Already 11 pre-registered for the next Vendée Globe

With eighteen months to go to the start of the eighth solo round the world race, which starts on 6th November 2016, eleven skippers are already pre-registered: Jérémie Beyou, Tanguy De Lamotte, Vincent Riou, Armel Le Cléac'h, Jean-Pierre Dick, Paul Meilhat, Kito De Pavant, Alessandro Di Benedetto, Morgan Lagravière, Alex Thomson and Bertrand De Broc. New boats are being launched, existing 60-footers being bought, budgets being completed or nearing completion: the list of skippers pre-registered is set to grow over the coming months and we can reasonably expect between 20 and 25 boats on the start line in les Sables d’Olonne.

Eleven sailors are already certain of lining up at the start of the next Vendée Globe. Among them, two newcomers (Paul Meilhat and Morgan Lagravière), but also some, who are back for the fourth time (Vincent Riou, Jean-Pierre Dick, Alex Thomson and Bertrand de Broc). The first to make his pre-registration official was Jérémie Beyou, who will be racing aboard Maître Coq (a VPLP-Verdier design from 2010), the former Banque Populaire aboard which Armel Le Cléac’h finished second in theeh 2012-2013 Vendée Globe. Forced to retire in the last two editions, Beyou is aiming to make it to the podium or better…

After finishing tenth in 2012-2013 aboard a 60-foot boat from 1998, Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur-K Line) is moving up a step, as he has acquired a Farr design from 2006, which has already taken part in the race twice, once with Vincent Riou (in 2008/2009) then with Arnaud Boissières (in 2012/2013). Vincent Riou will be the only former winner of the Vendée Globe to be there at the start in 2016, aboard PRB (a 2010 VPLP-Verdier design) on which he was forced to retire last time. His goal will be to join Michel Desjoyeaux as a two times winner. Second in the last two Vendée Globe races, Armel Le Cléac’h will be launching his brand new monohull in late May – a VPLP/Verdier design (Banque Populaire VIII) on which he will be one of the serious contenders.

Jean-Pierre Dick is going to have to wait until Septmber for his StMichel-Virbac to be launched. He too is aiming for the top of the podium. After retiring early on in 2008 and in 2012, Kito de Pavant will hope it is third time lucky in the Vendée Globe, while remaining an outsider. He has acquired the 2010 VPLP-Verdier designed boat, Alex Thomson’s former Hugo Boss (previously Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 3) which is to be named Bastide-Otio. Paul Meilhat will be racing on the boat that won the last race. François Gabart’s former Macif (designed by VPLP-Verdier in 2011). An efficient machine, which should allow him to be up there with the frontrunners.

Eleventh in the last Vendée Globe with a boat from 1998, Alessandro di Benedetto is likely to be racing aboard Dee Caffari’s former Aviva, an Owen-Clarke design from 2007, thanks to the support of a benefactor, who is a keen Vendée Globe follower. The Franco-Italian skipper is now looking for more funding to buy the boat and to ensure he will be there in 2016.

Aboard the new Safran, the first of the six VPLP-Verdier designs to be launched for the next Vendée Globe, Morgan Lagravière will be a dangerous rookie. Third in 2012/2013, Alex Thomson will be launching his new Hugo Boss this summer. His main goal on his fourth attempt will be to become the first British competitor to win the Vendée Globe. Finally, the most recent skipper to have completed the formalities to pre-register, Bertrand de Broc will be setting off again aboard the 60-foot boat on which he finished ninth in the 2012/2013 race after 92 days at sea. The former Votre Nom Autour du Monde and ex-Brit Air (designed by Finot-Conq in 2007) has now been renamed MACSF. His ambition to shave a week off his last time.

Other names expected soon

This list is of course far from complete and a certain number of applications are being examined, which means we should see 25 or even more boats competing in the 2016 Everest of the Seas. Starting with some, who are getting their hands on new boats. Sébastien Josse is due to launch his Groupe Edmond de Rothschild at the end of June, while the Italian skipper, Andrea Mura will be launching his Vento di Sardegna in July or August.

After completing the Barcelona World Race aboard Spirit of Hungary – the only new 60-foot boat that has not been designed by VPLP/Verdier – the Hungarian, Nandor Fa is expected to complete his pre-registration shortly. Other skippers, who already have a budget should follow suit, such as Yann Eliès, Arnaud Boissières, Eric Bellion and Louis Burton. Others have acquired boats and are attempting to complete their budget to pre-register, such as Fabrice Amédéo, Rich Wilson and Nicolas Boidevézi. Finally, there are still some skippers looking for sponsors but may well pre-register: Christopher Pratt, Gildas Morvan, Thomas Ruyant, Sébastien Destremau and teh Polish sailor, Zbigniew Gutkowski. The Vendée Globe has never before attracted so much interest from the skippers, with 18 months to go to the start. Those still looking for sponsors have until 1st July to complete their application.

​MOB BOOK LAUNCHED AND NEW PERSONAL AIS REVEALED

One year after an MOB in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in which crew member Andrew Taylor was successfully rescued after 100 minutes in the water, Sir Robin has revealed the development of a new automatically activated AIS beacon. 

Andrew Taylor, 47, was hit by a huge wave and swept overboard on 30 March 2014 from the Derry~Londonderry~Doire 2013-14 race entry. His incredible rescue is told in a book launched today called ‘179W – One Seven Nine West’ named after the exact co-ordinates where he fell overboard; it details his fight for survival and pays tribute to the training, team and equipment that saved his life.

“Reading Andrew’s account one year on was very emotional, says Sir Robin. “His team – led by skipper Sean McCarter – did an exceptional job in recovering him. We have learnt a lot of valuable lessons from the rescue and as a result are now developing new technology for a range of AIS beacons.”

"It was a result of Andrew’s experience, the fact that he could have been knocked unconscious when he hit the rudder, the fact that his lifejacket did not automatically inflate (we found the reason for this later) and that his beacon was initially switched onto test instead of activate, causing a life threatening delay, we decided to try to create an automatically activated beacon,” continues Sir Robin.

“After close collaboration and intense development between the Clipper Race team, technology partner Spinnaker International and McMurdo Group, I am glad to say that we now have a prototype, using the McMurdo AIS Beacon and will be making sea trials in mid-April. We were lucky to get Andrew back and at the Clipper Race we don’t believe in relying on luck where safety is concerned."

When Andrew activated his McMurdo AIS MOB device after about an hour in the water, his crew was able to pinpoint his exact location and come to his aid faster than following their search pattern; vital minutes for Andrew’s survival after being in the water for so long. 

Skipper Sean McCarter, crew members Michelle Porter, Susie Redhouse and Jason Middleton, along with Andrew’s parents, daughter and more joined together with Sir Robin. McMurdo and Henri Lloyd to launch the book at the Tower Hotel in St Katharine Docks. 

Andrew says: “I have always considered myself lucky to be fit and healthy and able to travel the world experiencing adventure and pushing some of the boundaries of life. I am under no illusion however. I am a very lucky boy to have escaped this particular life adventure alive. 

“Many of the fleeting moments on that fateful day in March 2014 could easily have ended differently. As could have the subsequent story’s ending. If I still had nine lives at the moment, I definitely used more than one of them in escaping this.

“I genuinely believe as a result of some of the outcomes of this event, lives will now be saved in the future. For both this and escaping with my own life, I am totally humbled and shall be eternally grateful to many very special people.” 

Copies of the book, a personal account of Andrew’s round the world experience, can be ordered online at www.179w.co.uk.

All proceeds from the book will be split equally between The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and The Newmarket Day Centre, which supported Andrew’s family while he was on the race. 

Sean McCarter Receives Prestigious Award for Outstanding Seamanship

Andrew Taylor, 46, from London, went overboard during a storm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, while the fleet was racing from Qingdao, China to San Francisco, USA. The poor weather conditions made visibility difficult and then strong currents quickly swept Andrew out of sight of the yacht. Despite spending 90 minutes in the water, Andrew made a full recovery and finished his circumnavigation on board theDerry~Londonderry~Doire yacht.

Clipper Race Founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston paid tribute to Sean: “I would like to congratulate Sean on the honour the CCA have bestowed upon him with the Rod Stephens Trophy. Sean deserves the recognition for keeping a cool head under huge pressure.”

Clipper 2013-14 Race Skipper Sean McCarter has been awarded the Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship by the Cruising Club of America.

The trophy was presented by CCA Commodore Tad Lhamon at their annual awards ceremony in the New York Yacht Club in recognition of how the Derry~Londonderry~Doire skipper conducted the rescue of a crew member who fell overboard in the North Pacific Ocean almost a year ago.

Every year this prestigious award is presented “for an act of seamanship that significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht or one or more individuals at sea.” Speaking about receiving the award, Sean says: “It is a privilege to receive the Rod Stephen’s Trophy from the Cruising Club of America. I admire them as an organisation because they recognise the spirit of adventure that the Clipper Race is all about, but importantly, they have never lost sight of the necessity of safety at sea and that’s why the Outstanding Seamanship award is so special.

“It’s hard to believe it’s almost one year since Andrew went overboard. I would like to pay tribute to everyone on board for their professionalism in how they dealt with the situation and I want them to know that I’m accepting this award on behalf of my entire crew.”

CCA_Awards_Sean.jpg

 

Sean grew up in the Derry-Londonderry area and started sailing on Lough Swilly, County Donegal, as a child. Building on his Clipper Race experience, he is now targeting the Vendée Globe 2016 and hopes to be the first Irish sailor to complete the race, solo and non-stop around the world.

Previous recipients of the Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship include Mike Golding for the rescue of Alex Thomson when his boat sunk during the 2006/7 Velux Ocean Race, and the crew of the training boat Corwith Cramer who rescued 51 Haitian refugees when they came across them in a disabled sailing boat in the Caribbean.

On March 30, in London, Andrew Taylor will mark the first anniversary of his man overboard incident by launching the book he has written about that day, and his whole Clipper Race experience. Proceeds from the book will go to the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Newmarket Day Centre in Andrew's home town.