Vendee Globers line up

The Grand National of sailing starts tomorrow as three Brits join the 20-strong line-up of sailing giants in the seventh edition of the Vendee Globe solo, non-stop round the world race.

Sam Davies, Mile Golding and Alex Thomson will be watched by thousands as they set off from Les Sables D’Lonne on the West coast of France straight into into the Bay of Biscay. A record-breaking million people have attended the sailors’ village.

Throughout the race, Vendée Globe action will be broadcast on 65 different TV channels, reaching 2 billion households in 190 countries.

The 13.30 start will be broadcast live on BBC TV and ITV online. The Vendée Globe has its own DailyMotion channel featuring videos available in three languages. 450,000 DailyMotion videos have been watched, with a total of 600,000 viewed videos when adding the Vendée Globe YouTube channel.

It will be Mike Golding’s fourth attempt at winning this great race: the last two times have been dogged by technical failures when leading the fleet. The 52-year-old former fireman, born in Great Yarmouth,said:

‘I enjoy doing the Vendee, when you come back into the canal after sailing around the world there’s no greater feeling than that. I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity I’d be absolutely barking mad to miss it. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it in any way, I only wanted to do it with a competitive entry. It’s not a notch in the headboard.

‘There are a lot of good guys, a lot of good boats and I’m not immune to the scale of the challenge, it’s significant. In a way because it’s the first time I’ve arrived in a boat I did the previous Vendee in (he had new boats in 2004 and 2008), that’s a new feeling. Normally I’m one of the new boats and that jumps you up the favourites list immediately. I feel we’re here in quite a low profile, but I quite like that, I think a lot of the French guys would rule us out on the basis that I dropped out of the scene for two years because I was on the Extreme 40s and I just did the two races last year, we didn’t have a great time on the TJV (Transat Jacque Vabre), we did better on the B2B solo race. But I think they’re clutching at straws because, the reality is I can still sail the boat like I sailed it four years ago. I feel I’ll be in the game.’