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New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne): a challenging final trial run before the Vendée Globe

Photo: Thierry Martinez
Photo: Thierry Martinez

Setting sail from the ‘Big Apple’, bound for what was the cradle of the IMOCA Class, the port of Les Sables d’Olonne, one could hardly ask for more in terms of symbolism. On the one hand, New York, a cosmopolitan crossroads of influences, is a perfect illustration of the international aspirations of both IMOCA and Open Sports Management. On the other, France’s Vendée region, represents the heart of the IMOCA class, thanks to its legendary solo round the world race, in which some of the most extraordinary episodes on the high seas have occurred over the last twenty-five years. The final opportunity to qualify for the Vendée Globe in race configuration, the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) promises to be a significant event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship.

The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne), the penultimate race in the 2015-6 IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship, is set to gather together all the top teams and sailors in the IMOCA class, keen to do battle one last time before the round the world race. Forming a link between the New World and the Old, it reasserts IMOCA’s determination to carve out an increasingly international position for itself and the opportunity to appeal to a new audience.

A substantial programme of entertainment

With its Prologue setting off from Newport, Rhode Island, (historically famous for having been the finish port of the OSTAR) bound for New York; the race village in the heart of Manhattan at North Cove Marina; a charitable promotion on the Hudson River and a race starting from the foot of the Statue of Liberty, the programme for the New York - Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will provide an amazing spectacle during the week competitors will spend in the build-up to the start in New York.

Treating New Yorkers to an exceptional entertainment program, enabling them to enjoy a maritime spectacle in one of the major ports on America’s eastern seaboard, as well as leaving the skippers with some unforgettable memories, will be just some of the many wonders of the race. Who has not dreamed of racing a sailing yacht in the shadow of Manhattan’s skyscrapers or under Brooklyn Bridge?

Final solo trial run

Primarily though, the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will be the final major confrontation in singlehanded configuration before to the ultimate event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship 2015-2016. With a 4X coefficient, this singlehanded transatlantic race will be the last opportunity to gauge each skipper’s position in relation to the competition. Even in summery conditions along what is always a tricky course to negotiate, the skippers will have to know how to strike a balance between hunting down the depressions, which cross the Atlantic at higher latitudes versus the shortest and most direct route along the great circle.Either way the course is likely to skirt the Grand Banks of Newfoundland famous for its thick fog, before continuing to climb towards the northern latitudes where there is always the potential to encounter icebergs drifting south from the Arctic. For these reasons the race it will provide great preparation for the week competitors’ will spend in the Southern Ocean during the Vendée Globe.

Beyond the sports aspects of the race, the New York - Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will also be an opportunity to test the communication systems and the on-board video gear prior to the Vendée Globe. Added to that, when the solo skipper make landfall in Les Sables d’Olonne, they will be get an idea of the emotional welcome that the public will give them next November at the start of the round the world race, the summer sun being a welcome bonus.

The close collaboration between the organiser, the council of the Vendée region and the town of Les Sables d’Olonne demonstrates the strong bond formed between these parties during the creation of this leading event of the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship. Like the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York – Barcelona, which preceded the Barcelona World Race, the New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will be a fantastic prelude to the Vendée Globe.


Practical information:

-       Start Prologue (21-22 May): Newport – New York

-       Race village at the foot of the One World Trade Center

-       Charity Race on 27 May

-       Start on 29 May

-       3,050 miles along the great circle route

-       ETAs from 6 June

-       Finish Village in Port Olona (Vendée Globe Esplanade)

IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship

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