The VendÃ©e Round the World Yacht Race, which famously became the first defining moment of Dame Ellen MacArthur’s sailing career when she became the fastest woman to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe and also the youngest contestant, has this year already shown its harsh intensity to contestants.Â The race is considered by some to be the toughest the sailing world has to offer; the route takes competitors along the old clipper route, from Les Sables d’Olonne on the Atlantic coast of France, down past the Cape of Good Hope, clockwise around Antartica before finally returning to the starting point after waving goodbye to Cape Horn. The rules dictate that competitors may stop at anchor but cannot draw alongside other vessels or quaysides or gain from outside assistance, hence its ‘non-stop’ nature and gruelling physical and psychological effects on the contestants. The only exception to this rule, and one that has already been used by the two Swiss entries Wavre and Stamm, is that if you experience a problem within the first 10 days you may return to the start point to get repairs and re-start the race.Â Wavre experienced electrical problems soon after the races start and Stamm’s yacht unfortunately collided with a Maltese cargo ship and so was forced to turn back.
Taking the lead from early on are a small fleet of French men, the first of whom is currently Sebastien Josse in the BT vessel. What will happen over the following two to three months and 27,000 nautical miles could completely change the table rankings currently swelling with 30 contestants and looking back through the races history, anything could happen.
Some information courtesy of Swissinfo.ch, Wikipedia, ESPN.