Jérémie Beyou, who was one of the outstanding pre-start favourites to win the Vendée Globe crossed the finish line in 13th place today after having had to return to Les Sables d’Olonne and restart over nine days after the fleet started on Sunday 8th November.

The skipper of Charal finished at 08:15:58 hrs UTC this Saturday 6th February in an elapsed time of 89 days, 18 hours, 58 seconds. He finished 9 days, 15 hours, 12 seconds after winner Yannick Bestaven.

Beyou made a valiant effort to recover as many places as he could. But his fourth attempt at the solo non-stop round the world race proved an extraordinarily different challenge to what he had hoped for. Nevertheless for the highly competitive sailor whose major focus in life over the last four years has been to win the Vendée Globe his comeback through the fleet is a major accomplishment which has earned him huge respect among his peers and race fans alike.

Rather than taking on his rivals, fighting for victory head-to-head against the other competitors, this race was about an internal battle for Beyou, a race of self discovery learning new and different aspects of racing, not least patience and self motivation as he raced most of the first month of his Vendée Globe entirely on his own, chasing to catch up the tailenders. Indeed it was only just before the Cape of Good Hope that he was able to finally pass the first backmarker.

Beyou’s campaign had all the hallmarks of a race winning programme. The three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro admitted he learned a lot about how to sustain high speeds and push very hard in the south as a member of the Volvo Ocean Race winning Dongfeng race team. He has has a well funded well structured team- backed at least until 2022 by Charal -  a latest-generation boat designed and built before the others (it was launched first of this generation in August 2018) which has benefited from two years of fine-tuning and two seasons of racing. Successes included a podium finish in the Transat Jacques Vabre racing with Chris Pratt and July victory in the Arctic Vendée Les Sables d'Olonne.

At 44 years of age Beyou was third in the 2016-17 race on his last participation in the Vendée Globe and was setting himself up to win.  But technical problems after just three days racing decided otherwise.

On the evening of 11th November off Cape Finisterre, after topping the rankings on several occasions Beyou suddenly announced that he was making a U-turn. He sailed back fast to the port of Les Sables d'Olonne to repair, among other things, a snapped starboard running backstay a damaged rudder and some sundry essential composite repairs.

The rules allow him to come back only to the start port. There his team are waiting to evaluate and put in placed an immaculately executed pit stop back at the race pontoon. Working around the clock he had until 18th November 14h20 to start the race again.

"What is hard is the decision to turn back. You know that you are immediately being forced to give up all that you have concentrated on during four years of preparation.” said a seemingly broken and defeated Beyou on his arrival at the Port Olona dock. "Now, seeing everyone here again, it brings back a big dose of emotion and it's not easy to deal with it, really I’d rather be anywhere but here.”

The extended team of experts worked miracles. Among other damage a partial bulkhead in the cockpit also needed to be repaired. But on 17 November at 5.10 pm local time it is mission accomplished, Charal crossed the starting line for the second time.

And meantime the fleet on its ninth day at sea was led across the Equator by long time title rival HUGO BOSS skippered by Alex Thomson.

Beyou’s race was a new and different. He set up and appreciates small daily targets. He needed to find reasons to push hard and take pleasure and satisfaction from what he does in his own bubble rather than micro-measuring himself all the time against rivals and the rankings.

"I'm discovering a side of my sport that I didn't know about" he revealed.

For almost a month, he will sail totally alone, in pursuit of the tail of the fleet. The weather in the South Atlantic is not good for him but in early December he is into the Roaring Forties and  he overtook his first competitor (Stark) on the 11th, before crossing the Cape of Good Hope.

And into the big south he is pleased to finally be in the race fleet, albeit further back than he would be used to, but the skipper of Charal is pleased to be surrounded once again by competitors. The sinking of Kevin Escoffier affects everyone in the fleet and everyone is values the importance of sailing in company in the Southern Ocean wastes where the competitors around each other are one again proven to be the best guardians of each other,

In the Indian Ocean Beyou confides: "I really try not to load the boat too much and to be a bit more in gliding mode than pushing hard. My real objective is to round Cape Horn with a boat in good condition".

So he doesn't force himself or his boat, does not go for super high speeds. But he does, one by one, take seven places.

At the entrance to the Pacific Beyou has caught up with the next group and then passed Cape Horn in 17th position in the company of Arnaud Boissières and Alan Roura, whom he would overtakes off Argentina.

On the way he also admits to discover the simple joys of communicating with his rivals around him, comparing ideas and chatting lightly and more freely with fellow competitors, something which is otherwise alien to someone most used to silently battling at the front of the fleet.

He gradually comes back to the level of Romain Attanasio, who suffers in the doldrums for a very long time. The two men will sail together for the whole of the climb back up the North Atlantic. They pass together inside the Azores archipelago where they are hit by a big depression. And they finish one after the other hours apart.

Starting 32nd that is to say last when he left the dock again (Nicolas Troussel had already given up) more than nine days behind his fellow competitors Beyou achieved a feat that was never considered one of his targets, finishing in the middle of the fleet. He also took up another challenge the mental one reaching the end of his race and achieving a high level of personal satisfaction when he was never under any obligation, personal or commercial, to re-start.

 "One day I would like to win this race. If not this time it will be another time,"he said before the start.

And so Beyou will doubtless be back in four years, a changed and more rounded sailor who has certainly embraced new perspectives this time.

© © Vincent Curutchet / Alea

Beyou's press conference

This to me was a completely new, fabulous experience. I was asked what my worst memories were and really in the end, you only remember the good times. I'm super proud, super happy with what I've been through.”

“But psychologically, it was still not easy. You prepare for what is like a lifetime and this time with Charal, with this team, with this boat I thought it should be my time, my chance. And from there you cannot just scrub that from your mind. You have to manage that in your head too, but it didn't take over and that didn't prevent me from pushing the boat forward. Positive thoughts finally took over. And in the end you are in the story and you just enjoy the moment. It's a long experience, you go through all the states of a usual Vendée Globe. And I'm in  much better state today than 80 days ago when I left.”

“ Coming back into the fleet was important, I still felt really isolated after the start. It’s nicer to have competitors, otherwise you’re out there chasing a record and not competing in the Vendée Globe. It was important to catch up, it gives extra motivation when you catch up with the same weather system. Catching up with a competitor happens, yes, but they too sail well. Let’s be clear if they are in the Vendée Globe and qualified for the Vendée Globe, it is because they know how to sail well. When I got to them their speed increased a bit, you could tell they were trying to resist!

In sport you can't win all the time, especially in sailing. It was Yannick who won brilliantly, but there will be more chances for me.

I had to do nine Solitaire du Figaros before winning it, I don't know how many Vendée Globes it will take. But that is my story, but there are other race wins that have come more easily. There is no rule. When you see the final podium today, without wanting to offend anyone, not many people would have bet on it. From my experience I have a hard giving up before I get there, so if it's going to take nine editions, maybe I'll be around for a while. I hope to be here for the next edition. When it was time to leave, I could have been  pissed off because that experience was not easy to manage. I went out with humility and discovered the pride of fighting small battles every day. It made me fall in love with this race even more. And with a little frustration of this ranking even more it just makes me want to come back next time.

In previous Vendée Globes, I hardly communicated with my opponents. When you are battling at the front there is a psychological battle. If you interact with your rivals you can show your weaknesses so you prefer to close your hatches. There, when you are behind, there is less pressure. I wanted to share, to see their way of seeing things, to understand what they were doing. My idol is Michael Jordan and he plays to win, otherwise he doesn't. There, I discovered that you could play, not to win but to complete your project, with your ideas, with your convictions, to satisfy yourself.  All these skippers are there for that. They have a varying level of preparation but they give everything. To me before it seemed improbable to do a race without having any chance of winning. Still, it's a great challenge, they are great sailors, all very deserving.

It’s no small thing to start and rally to the finish. I think about them a lot, some have to face difficult conditions and the more you advance in the season, the easier it is. I also think of all those who are at home like Nico (Troussel), Seb (Simon), Kevin (Escoffier), Alex (Thomson). I was lucky enough to start again and they didn't. Of course, the winners have to be congratulated, but I want to say a special word to those who abandoned and are at home.  

When you are ahead, your race and that of your competitors are linked. Each option is considered, depending on your weather and your tools, but you watch a lot what others are doing. Without pressure you don't sail like that. It allowed me to take more time on my boat, to try out different configurations, to take more time to eat, to sleep.  I have never had so many showers during the race as in this Vendée Globe! I even brushed my teeth often, You kind of forget all that in your head. You are much more focused on yourself and what you are going through. And you also do it less for how it looks from the outside, for how your performance looks because you don't really have much to prove. I didn't lose my competitive spirit but it was a breath of fresh air.

Charal is an extraordinary boat. We knew that before we left, but it's hard to go around the world like this to validate everything. We have seen that all the options work and are reliable. The structure, the foils and the instrumentation have not changed. With these large foils, the boat has to have a proper supporting engineered structure, we have to balance the weights, manage the loads, the autopilot ... There is a whole development programme that makes it work and with l'Occitane en Provence we were both fastest boats When you find the right angle, the right settings, it's magic! It was an opportunity to try things. For that, it was important to go around the world. They are crazy boats!"

No regrets

"My need to return and re-start was about a combination of circumstances, we hit something, we damaged the rudder. It was collateral damage that forced us to come back (not a lack or fault in our of preparation) We tried to get the boat in the water as soon as possible, in terms of preparation time, we couldn't do more. We have sailed a lot, but you can never do enough. They are also boats that require maintenance and the actual build times construction times cant be compressed much more. We have a research and development programme and that took time, we have a structured team for that. We will continue to develop the boat. We do everything to make it fast and reliable.  We must succeed in combining reliability and innovation. But anything can happen, it's sport, it's the Vendée Globe.

We will review and debrief. What I can say is that I really want to be at the start of the Vendée Globe 2024, but nothing is certain I will be there. That is my desire, not any kind of announcement. I want to be there and that itself is a good start. We review everything, on the evolution of this boat, on what the boats of the future might be. We are going to discuss the possible extension of the partnership, which for the moment goes until 2022. I try especially to concentrate on next year, on the Transat Jacques Vabre (with a real desire for revenge) and on the Route du Rhum."


"In the deep south, I managed to find full control of Charal all the right settings. It's not simple. We cannot hide it, they are fast boats but complex to balance, to move quickly and for a long time. You have to be in the right conditions, succeed to be in front of the systems to have a correct sea. When you get this there are moments of fulfilment. When you look at fast averages, it's fabulous. I didn't have a lot of 24-hour spells to challenge for records but shorter stages yes that was really great. And then there were discussions with others as well and small victories, climbing the mast for example. I hate that ! The day I did it, I was really happy with myself. Each days has its own challenges and small daily victories."


"I don't know how they handled it up front. We were worried for a few hours. And when you know he's safe, you run through things a bit for yourself, you go check the structure and everything on your boat. But he was OK and did well. We must consolidate and be there and support each other. Rescues we are the people who operate them. This solidarity is vital  it is part of the race. Re directing several boats and giving redress is obviously the right approach. I hope this is just a bad memory for Kevin.  He is a solid bloke and I am convinced that we will see him again in the Vendée Globe".

Steak, next? 

"I've already had my steak, I won't overdo it ... But I wouldn't be against the idea of another one. Now I will share some time with my team my family, my dog (golden retriever), and chill out at home. The season will start again quickly, everything is ready to go back to the yard and we will go about it in due course. This recovery phase should not be neglected, because a race like this drains you. But once I have recovered I have only one desire: to find the next starting line. "

The stats of Jérémie Beyou

Average speed of 11.31 knots over the theoretical course of 24 365.74 miles.
Distance actually travelled on the water: 29 728.45 miles at the average speed of 13.80 knots.

The big landmarks

Equator (outward)
32nd position on 29/11/2020 at 09h42 UTC after 20d 20h 22min to 10d 20h 23min from leader HUGO BOSS

Cape of Good Hope
27th on 12/12/2020 01h07 UTC in 33d 11h 47min to 11d 01h 56min of leader Apivia

Cape Leeuwin
20th on 23/12/2020 18h58 UTC in 45d 05h 38min to 10d 07h 33min of leader Apivia

Cape Horn
17th on 11/01/2021 15h34 UTC in 64d 02h 14min to 9d 01h 52min of the leader Master CoQ IV

Equator (back)
14th on 25/01/2021 04h05 UTC in 77d 14h 45min to 8d 08h 53min from the leader Bureau Vallée 2

Max. distance over 24 hours.
On 25 December 13:00 UTC: 476.66 nm, at an average speed of 19.9 knots.

From 08 November at 15:00 UTC to 09 November 04:00 UTC for 13:00hrs
From 10 November 04:00 UTC to 10 November 11:00 UTC for 07:00hrs

His boat
Charal, VPLP plan (foils) built at CDK Technologies, launched on 18 August 2018