Who is odds-on for the race known as the Everest of the Seas?
The Vendée Globe is a non-stop, singlehanded race around the world, starting this Sunday 9 November at Les Sables d’Olonne in western France, and finishing there an estimated 80 gruelling days later. Not for nothing is it known as the Everest of the Seas, and even that’s understating the challenge because only 48 people in total have completed the race in its five previous editions (four of those have done it twice) whereas over 1,000 climb Everest every year.
This year’s race is record breaking in four ways: the number of entries, 30; the non-French entry, 43 per cent; the experience, with 14 previous participants and two previous winners; the technology and money, 20 new boats. Statistically, we can also expect a record breaking winning time and therefore a record breaking average speed.
If you’re looking to back a winner, or you’re wondering how your pick in the office sweepstake is going to fair, good luck. Previous experience in the Vendée Globe won’t help as four of the five previous winners were first-time entrants.
Statistically, your winner will be a French man, aged between 30 and 37, with children, a first time entrant in the race, sailing a Finot-Conq designed boat, and he’s likely to have won the Figaro singlehanded challenge. Unfortunately, that rules out the two hot favourites, Michel Desjoyeaux and Vincent Riou, because both are racing Farr designs and are not, of course, first time entrants. Desjoyeaux is 43, which also rules him out statistically.
Among the other favourites, Delta Dore skipper Jeremie Beyou fits the bill, except he sails a Farr design too. Kito de Pavant’s Groupe Bel is a Peteghem/Prevost/Verdier design and at 47, he’s statistically too old but still fancied. Britain’s Brian Thompson is a first-timer with two kids. At 46, he has plenty of ocean racing experience but is still a first-time entrant. His boat, Kingdom of Bahrain/Pindar is undoubtedly the most powerful and extreme of this year’s runners but if his experience can reign it in, he’s one to watch.
Two more highly experienced entries with ‘father’ status are Brit Mike Golding, racing in his third Vendée Globe onboard the Owen Clarke-designed Ecover III, with a third place finish in 2000-01 to his name, and France’s Marc Thiercelin, second in 1996-97 and fourth in 2000-01, who’s onboard the Finot-Conq drawn DCNS. Both are 48 but Thiercelin gets the nod because of his Figaro experience.
According to the stats, your winner is Yann Eliès, a first-time entry in the Finot-Conq-designed Generali, 34 years old with two children but only a second in the Figaro.
Pay your money and take your choice!