Armel Le Cleac'h is about to bring his Banque Populaire VIII across the finish line off Les Sables d'Olonne to a hero's welcome in this sailing-mad town
Watch live as Armel Le Cleac’h takes Banque Populaire VIII across the finish line and into history. Having finished second in the last two editions, this time the Breton tops the table after fighting off a spirited comeback from Britain’s Alex ‘all or nothing at all’ Thomson on Hugo Boss.
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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.
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.
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.
Sunday’s weather promises 15-25kn from the north and northwest, great conditions to set this fleet flying across the Bay of Biscay.