vendeeToday, ten skippers visited the official Vendée Globe Village, including seven from outside of France. They were not there as tourists, but as potential candidates for the 2020 race. The ten sailors were given a guided tour of everything on display in the company of Jacques Caraës, the Vendée Globe Race Director, before having lunch with the president of the SAEM, Yves Auvinet.

With just sixteen days to go to the start of the 2016 Vendée Globe, ten skippers hoping to take part in the 2020 race were present today, among them some big French names, Yoann Richomme, winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, Antony Marchand and Nicolas Boidevézi, as well as competitors from outside of France, Amaiur Alfaro, Christophe Bullens, Simon Clay, Jonas Gerkens, Giancarlo Pedote, Norbert Sedlacek, and Jonathan Green. It looks like 2020 will be another truly international affair.

There are several different categories within this little group. Nicolas Boidevézi probably has the most unusual background. Registered for the 2016 race, Nicolas had to give up at the last moment due to insufficient funding. The boat was ready to go, but he had to make a wise choice. After retiring on the final stretch to the start, his determination to be there in 2020 has only grown. “We can’t be sure of anything, but I should be there at the start of the next edition of the Vendée. Those partners, who were with me before, have renewed their confidence for what lies ahead,” Nicolas, the former owner of Spirit of Yukoh told us. “We shall be trying to buy a boat at the end of the race to compete in the IMOCA circuit until 2020. This time we’ll be setting up an intelligent project, based around human values and new technology. I really want to do well. Racing is one of those things, which allows you to be able to tell an exceptional story.”

While Nicolas Boidevézi, Anthony Marchand and Yoann Richomme intend to compete with high ambitions of getting a good result, that is not the case for everyone. Amaiur Alfaro is presenting a project that is much closer to Sébastien Destremau’s, focusing on adventure. The Basque wishes to complete the round the world voyage on an IMOCA from 1998, which is already in his possession. “Like Nicolas, I wanted to take part in the 2016 Vendée Globe, but I got my boat too late. I’d like to line up in 2020 with an improved rig and a project linked to renewable energy,” explained Amaiur Alfaro. “I’m setting off on an adventure. My goal will be to complete the Vendée Globe.”

During this quick visit today, the contenders hoping to be there in 2020 were able to see how the race is organised and all the means put in place to experience the race. They also saw what is so special about the Everest of the seas. They met up with the 2016 skippers later in the day. They got some useful feedback for their future campaigns.

Philippe Poupon on the Vendée Globe pontoon

There was a famous guest on Vincent Riou’s PRB today. Philippe Poupon, who took part in two Vendée Globe races, is still fascinated by the competition. “If someone asked me to set sail again with a boat that was ready, I’d willingly do it,” said the Captain of Fleur Australe. His two attempts at the Vendée Globe will be remembered, in particular because of the famous incident, when his monohull Fleury-Michon was upturned and filmed by Loick Peyron, who had gone to his aid in the first Vendée Globe in 1989. The sailor was luckier in the second edition, finishing third with a jury rig in 1993.