Sea travelling could be one of the most underrated means of transport, yet the attraction is in a whole world of its own. It has its own dangers as many voyagers have been lost at sea. An adventure as it also presents life on planet earth in a whole different perspective, the blue seas, blue skies with nothing in its horizon as you sail, the whales. You might get lucky to see dolphins too. The stench of sea water can also make you want to puke, very disturbing and you might just end up spilling out your intestines.
Regardless how you view the adventure men have been taking to sea since AD200 and some few men see it as sport. Water sport are all over ranging for swimming, water polo, boat racing, surfing, the list goes on but nothing comes close to the Vendée Globe. Sounds new to you, well I’ll give you a quick briefing of what the sport is all about. Ever watch the movie, In the heart of the sea. Almost like the movie but this time around the athletes are not hunting for whales and the voyage is just one athlete on the vessel, he is the crew, the black gang, the chief, the captain, he’s everything on the vessel. The Vendée Globe is a go-round-the-world solo race vessel race usually done using a yatch. Sails are done individually with no assistance and stops. The athlete goes all the way round the world. The race is usually between November and February during the Austral summer in the Southern Ocean.
Unlike its predecessor Velux 5 Oceans Race which is done in stages where athletes can have stopovers and is done in ‘legs’. The Vendée Globe is described by 2016/2017 edition first runner up Alex Thomson as “the most physical and mental torture you can almost have”. It is a sport of extreme test and endurance racing through the world’s most savage seas.
The first Vendée Globe race was in 1989-1990 which was won by Frenchman Titouan Lamazou. The second in 1992-1993, however since then it has been run every four years. The race starts and finishes in Les Sables-d’Olonne, both Les Sables d’Olonne and the Vendée Conseil Général are official race sponsors. Michel Desjoyeaux is the only sailor to win the Vendée Globe twice in 2001 and 2009.
Waypoints are set in the sailing instructions for a particular race, in order to ensure safety relative to ice conditions, weather. Competitors may stop at anchor, but are not to draw alongside a quay or another vessel; they are expected to receive no outside assistance, including customized weather or routing information besides the one given them before the start of the race. The only exception is that a competitor who has an early problem may return to the start for repairs and then restart the race, as long the restart is within 10 days of the official start. The race has its own extreme challenges mostly severe winds and sea wave conditions. Also, since competitors are unassisted, it takes them far from any normal emergency response. In the 1996-1997 race, Canadian racer Gerry Roufs got lost and sea. He was in second place in the race when his position-indicating beacon ceased to transmit. His boat, Groupe LG 2, was found on the coast of Chile in July 1997. His last known position was 55°S 124°W, 369 nm south of Point Nemo, the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility.
To mitigate the risks, athletes are required to undergo a medical and survival course. They must also be able to demonstrate prior racing experience. The attrition rate in the Vendee Globe is sky high as fewer than 100 people have raced solo nonstop around the world successfully compared with more than 500 who have been to space.
The latest edition of the Vendée Globe which started from 6th November 2016 ended after 124.5 days. Going around the Cape of Good Hope(South Africa), Cape Leeuwin (Australia) and Cape Horn (Chile), won by Frenchman Armel Le Cléac’h in his Banque Populaire VIII yatch. He currently holds the record of 74days 03hrs 35mins 46secs.
So next time when you think of the sea, remember that some men see your greatest fears as sports and entertainment.
The article ‘Vendée Globe- In the heart of the Ocean’ first appeared on Brila.net a brila blogpost.