The Vendee Globe is a round-the-world single-handed (solo) yacht race, sailed non-stop and without assistance. It began in 1989 and takes place every four years. This race is considered by many a test of extreme individual endurance, and as the ultimate in ocean racing. The race starts and finishes in Les Sables d’Olonne, in the department of Vendee, in France. The course is essentially a circumnavigation along the clipper route: from Les Sables d’Olonne, down the Atlantic Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope; then clockwise around Antarctica, keeping Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn to port; then back up the Atlantic to Les Sables d’Olonne. The race generally runs from November to February, and is timed to place the competitors in the Southern Ocean during the austral summer. The race is open to monohull yachts conforming to the Open 60 (IMOCA 60) class criteria. The Open classes are unrestricted in certain aspects, but a box rule governs parameters such as overall length, draught, appendages and stability, as well as numerous other safety features.
The 2016–2017 race started on Sunday, 6 November 2016 and we had the pleasure of experiencing this epic race first hand. Jay met Conrad Colman, a New Zealander transplanted to France, while walking the docks in La Base, Lorient looking for work, Conrad was on his boat getting it ready for the race. They struck out a conversation and Jay began helping back in April 2016. Jay and the boat captain Cyril Enjalran worked full time up until the start of the race. Three weeks before the start they moved the boat down to the Vendee Village which was an experience in itself. Over a million visitors come to the village to see the boats and their skippers. A week prior to race departure I began helping out Conrad’s wife, Clara Colman, with social media and have continued throughout the race to edit his videos and post to his Facebook and Instagram accounts. On the day of departure Jay was on Conrad’s boat and I was in a rib alongside. There were about 500,000 spectators throughout the channel. When we arrived in France we did not think we would experience the Vendee Globe in “front row seats”, it was a memorable and unforgettable experience.