It’s the Everest of singlehanded sailing, the pinnacle of the sport: a solo, non-stop sprint around the world. Watch the start live here

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Vendée Globe start

[LIVE] Vendée Globe 2016/2017 Live par VendeeGlobeTV

This Sunday at 1202 UTC, the curtain will raise on this heroic drama as 29 skippers from 10 nations will set off on the eighth edition of the quadrennial Vendée Globe race. Ahead of them lies a 24,020-mile racecourse that will take them from Les Sables d’Olonne on the French Atlantic coast, down the Atlantic and into the Southern Ocean where they will round three Great Capes, Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, before tearing back up the Atlantic where a hero’s welcome awaits on Les Sables.

Vendee Globe

Francois Gabart set the record in the 2012-13 edition at just over 78 days

The record stands at 78d 2h 16m, set in the 2012-13 edition by France’s François Gabart onboard his IMOCA 60 MACIF. Experts are expecting the record to be broken again in this edition because of the development of ‘Dali’ hydrofoils. This game-changing design development pokes out of the side of the hull providing vertical and horizontal lift. Reaching in a decent breeze, these foils can lift the entire bow section out of the water and provide a significant speed boost over older generations. However this is emerging tech and there are question marks over reliability, which is the key to success in this race.

Vendee Globe

Brit Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss demonstrates the extraordinary effect of foils on the performance of the latest generation of IMOCA 60s

The pre-start favourite is Armel Le Cléac’h known as the Jackal for his wily tenacity, and his foiling IMOCA Banque Populaire VIII. Going for Britain is Hugo Boss, another foiler. Her skipper Alex Thomson is attempting to improve on his third place in 2013, which was his first finish in three attempts.

Vendee Globe

At 1202 on Sunday 6 November 2016, the fleet will be cheered out of the race village in Les Sables d’Olonne and start the eighth Vendee Globe

Sunday’s weather promises 15-25kn from the north and northwest, great conditions to set this fleet flying across the Bay of Biscay. Don’t forget to tune in early to watch the spectacular farewell all the fleet receives from this sailing-mad French town.

Follow the race here