Euronews gets its sea legs for the Vendée Globe round-the-world solo yacht race

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By Rodrigo Barbosa
Armel Tripon aboard L'Occitane en Provence
Armel Tripon aboard L'Occitane en Provence   -  Copyright  © Pierre BOURAS / L'Occitane en Provence

A solo round-the-world yacht race, without any stops or assistance: the stage is set for the Vendée Globe, an event that many sailors call "the Everest of the Seas".

The race starts on Sunday, bound by important restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing the skippers to complete eight days of strict quarantine before the start of the adventure.

Euronews had the opportunity to sail onboard one of the boats specially designed for this unique event and talk to the man at the helm, Armel Tripon, about this huge challenge.

The Vendée Globe is a bit of a crazy dream... You have to be a little mad to go around the world in this way, completely alone.
Armel Tripon
Skipper of L'Occitane en Provence

Escaping the pandemic

It’s a dream of particular significance on this ninth edition, as it will start without an audience and without the traditional festivities because of the COVID health restrictions.

And it’s also an escape from reality for thirty-three competitors who begin their lonely journey from Sables d'Olonne, on the French Atlantic coast.

I only want one thing, and that is to go sail and, in a certain way, leave behind me this world filled with anxiety.
Armel Tripon
Skipper of L'Occitane en Provence
© Pierre BOURAS / L'Occitane en Provence
Armel Tripon aboard L'Occitane en Provence© Pierre BOURAS / L'Occitane en Provence

An 'outsider' among favourites

This may be the first Vendée Globe for Armel but, with long experience on the seas, including his victory on the "Route du Rhum" in 2018 in the Multi50 category, the French skipper is as much an outsider as a favourite.

"It is true that 'outsider'...fits me well, because we are like an ambush, we have a project that started late, with a boat that took a while to optimise. But at present we are ready for the battle," Armel maintained. 

A long fight against the elements

It will take more than two months for the sailors to complete their tour around the world.

But in just a few hours sailing with Armel, we've experienced how it feels to be at the mercy of the wind and sea, a small-scale demonstration of what lies ahead for them on this immense challenge. A momentary incursion into one of the most prestigious sailing events in the world.

Journalist • Rodrigo Barbosa