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Great Britain appears set to be well represented in 2020

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Samantha Davies
From left to right: Samantha Davies (skipper), Karen Alletru (Vendée Tourism Director), Pip Hare (skipper), Laura Le Goff (Vendée Globe MD), Jimmy Bertrand (Les Sables d'Olonne Tourism Vice Director)

With four skippers intending to compete in the next Vendée Globe, Great Britain appears set to be well represented in 2020. With high quality programmes and experience under their belts, there is a good chance that Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) and Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) could make it on to the podium. Thomson in particular has said many times that he is out to win, but both the top Brits hold hopes of victory. 

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A press conference was held today in London as part of a joint initiative between Vendée Tourism, Vendée Globe and Destination Les Sables d'Olonne, in order to present the race and also highlight the importance of the British skippers who are expected in the line up for this 2020 edition. Two skippers, Pip Hare and Samantha Davies, were present during the London press conference, at the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London. Although they were not present today, Alex Thomson and Miranda Merron also fully support this initiative. 

The presence of the Vendée Globe in London, just as at the Dusseldorf BOOT show last week, underlines how the organizers of the race, the SAEM Vendée,  wish to strengthen the international dimension of this solo round the world race. Today, amongst the 36 declared candidates, 13 are from outside France. Eight nations should be represented. 

A quick recap of the British candidates who intend to participate:

Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), on his 5th participation: 3rd in 2012, 2nd in 2016, which means there is one step left for Thomson to become the first British sailor to win the Vendée Globe. He has a new, innovative boat, and is extremely well prepared. He has given himself the means and the opportunity to win. 
Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur), on her 3rd participation: after an excellent 4th place in 2008-2009, Sam returns with a Verdier - VPLP plan from 2012 that is at its optimal level. She has proven herself as a very serious outsider to win. 
Pip Hare (Pip Hare Ocean Racing), on her 1st participation: Poole-based Hare can count on a huge number of ocean miles in offshore racing, even if this will be her first Vendée Globe.
Miranda Merron (Campagne de France), on her 1st participation: after having raced all over the globe and on all types of boats, the British sailor is set to take on the Vendée Globe, one of the few ocean races she has not yet tackled.  

The Vendée Globe: 

To date, the Vendée Globe is the only sailing race round the world which is solo, non-stop and without assistance. The event followed in the wake of the Golden Globe which had initiated the first circumnavigation of this type via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn) in 1968. Only one out of the nine pioneers who had set off in 1968 succeeded in returning to Falmouth, the major port of British Cornwall. On 6th April 1969, after 313 days at sea, British sailor Robin Knox-Johnston finally reached his goal. Twenty years later, after having won the BOC Challenge twice (solo round the world with stopovers), navigator Philippe Jeantot introduced the idea of a new race around the world, but..non-stop! The Vendée Globe race was born. On 26th November 1989, thirteen sailors set off on the first edition which lasted over three months. Only seven returned to Les Sables d'Olonne.

The eight editions of what is now called the Everest of the seas by the public have enabled 167 contenders to take part in this extraordinary race. Only 89 of them managed to cross the finish line. This figure alone shows the extreme difficulty of this global event in which solo racers are confronted with freezing cold, gigantic waves and heavy skies which sweep the Great South! The Vendée Globe is first and foremost a journey beyond the seas and deep down within oneself… It has rewarded great sailors: Titouan Lamazou in 1990, Alain Gautier in 1993, Christophe Auguin in 1997, Vincent Riou in 2005, François Gabart in 2013 and Armel LeCléac'h in 2017. The skipper from Finistère became the new record holder of the race in 74 days. Only one sailor has won it twice: Michel Desjoyeaux, in 2001 and 2009. The 9th Vendée Globe will leave Les Sables d'Olonne on Sunday 8th November 2020.

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