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Vendée History
 
      It is generally acknowledged that the first solo circumnavigation under sail was completed just over 100 years ago when Joshua Slocum set sail on board 'Spray', his 37 foot sloop from Boston Harbour.

 
Three years, and some 46 000 miles later, Slocum dropped anchor in Newport, Rhode Island, having circled the world alone. Slocum stopped ashore when the mood suited, either to explore or to re-supply.
In 1966 Sir Francis Chichester took 'Gypsy Moth III' alone around the world from the U.K. stopping just once in Sydney, Australia. His voyage inspired a nation, indeed he was mobbed upon his return, and set the stage for the Golden Globe.

This 1966 race would see Robin Knox-Johnston return home a hero, having beaten all the odds, and all comers including the great Bernard Montessier, who gaining on the final leg home across the Atlantic, decided to stay South, and keep cruising. Knox-Johnston went down in history as the man to realise the last great major 'first' in circumnavigations. It took him 313 days to log over 30 000 nautical miles.

Numerous races to better the time followed, and indeed, solo-circumnavigations in less than half the time became the new standard. But in 1989, the Vendée Globe was born. Ocean racer Phillipe Jeantot, envisioned a race that would challenge both man and machine to the limits and beyond, and in that he has been successful. The first race saw 13 competitors line up at Les Sables d'Olonne in western France for the start. Only seven of the 13 starters finished the race. Three more made it back to Les Sables but were disqualified for breaching the rules, one competitor capsized, and two others retired. The winner, Titouan Lamazou, finished in 109 days.

For the second Vendée Globe in November 1992, 14 men lined up on the starting line. But again, only seven completed the race. This time Alan Gautier was the first back at Les Sables, in 110 days. Tragedy marred the celebrations however, as Nigel Burgess was lost at sea, within a month of the start gun.

That horror was repeated in 1996, when Gerry Roufs, a Canadian, was also lost at sea. Two others were rescued in unimaginable conditions. Less than half the competitors finished in a race where heroes were born and martyrs were made. The 1996-97 running of the race only added to the drama and mystique of this death defying challenge. A new race record was set by winner Christophe Auguin, of 105 days. And Catherine Chabaud became the first woman to finish a Vendée Globe. Now, in the new millenium, the race is set to run again...and it's more popular than ever. New safety restrictions designed to improve the boats, and improve the quality of the skippers haven't dampened enthusiasm one bit.. Over 20 entrants are expected on the starting line at Les Sables in November. All of them drawn to the same sea sailed by Slocum, Chichester and Knox-Johnston. All of them wondering if they can measure up to the challenge of the Vendée Globe.

Previous Vendee Globe results
Vendee 1989-1990
Number of Entrants: 13

Finishers:

1. Titouan Lamazou on Ecureuil D'Aquitaine II 109 days
2. Loick Peyron on Lada Poch III 110 days
3. Jean Luc van den Heede on 3615 Met 112 days
4. Philippe Jeantot on Credit Agricole IV 113 days
5. Pierre Follenfant on TBS Charente Maritime 114 days
6. Alain Gautier on Generali Concorde 132 days
7. Jean-Francois Coste on Cachrel 163 days

Vendee 1992-1993
Number of Entrants 14

Finishers:
[Image]
1. Alain Gautier on Bagages Superior 110 days
2. on Groupe Sofap 116 days
3. Philippe Poupon on Fleury Michon 117 days
4. Yves Parlier on Cacolac D'Aquitaine 125 days
5. Nandor Fa on K&H Bank-Matav 128 days
6. Jose-Luis de Ugarte on Euskadi Europa 93 135 days
7. Jean Yves Hasselin on PRB Solo Nantes 153 days

Vendee 1996-1997
Number of Entrants 16

Finishers:

1. Christophe Auguin on Geodis 105 days
2. Marc Thiercelin on Credit Immobiliser de Francd 113 days
3. Herve Laurent on Group LG Traitmat 114 days
4. Eric Dumont on Cafe Legal le Gout 116 days
5. Pete Goss on Aqua Quorom Challenge 126 days
6. Catherine Chabaud on Whirlpool-Europe 2 140 days
* lost at sea, Gerry Roufs

www.kingfischerchallenges.com

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