Please select your home edition
Edition
Allen 2017 Fit to Win 3 728

Vendee 2020 Vision: New initiative to nurture a British Vendée Globe winner

by Sailing Intelligence on 9 Jan 9 January 2017
Artemis Ocean Racing IMOCA 60 © Mark Lloyd / www.lloydimages.com

Launched in 2016, Vendée2020Vision is a new initiative to support British sailors along the path to success in yacht racing's most challenging event - the Vendée Globe, the quadrennial singlehanded non-stop round the world race.

Singlehanded offshore racing is an endurance sport that for participants is the toughest discipline in sailing. It has created many British legends from early pioneers such as Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Sir Chay Blyth to contemporary figures such as Dame Ellen MacArthur, Pete Goss, Mike Golding, Sam Davies, Dee Caffari, Brian Thompson and Alex Thompson. It is a sport that was created in Britain, inspired by the early round the world record breakers and the establishment of events such as the OSTAR and the Mini Transat in the 1960s and 70s. But since then France has completely dominated the sport.

Currently the Vendée Globe is the pinnacle event in the solo offshore racing calendar. British solo sailors have competed in all but the first race in 1989-90, with Dame Ellen MacArthur holding the record for the best British result when she finished a close second in 2000-1. British entries in the race peaked in 2008-9 when seven skippers from the UK entered, but in the current race, which set sail from Les Sables d'Olonne in November, there is just one – Alex Thomson sailing Hugo Boss.

Created by Southampton-based yacht racing management company Whitecap and supported by Artemis Investment Management LLP, Vendée2020Vision is seeking to rejuvenate British participation in the solo non-stop round the world race. This it intends to do not only by helping aspiring British singlehanded offshore sailors fill in the gaps in their skill sets, both at sea and in raising funding on land, but also approaching the problem from the opposite angle: Encouraging corporate Britain to get behind its worthy initiative.

Simon Clay, CEO of Whitecap commented: "Through Vendee2020Vision, British singlehanded offshore sailing has a huge amount to offer a commercial partner. We are working with some exceptional youth talent, nurturing their potential with the belief that we can achieve the first British winner of a solo non-stop around the world race for over 50 years in 2020. We believe also that in this age of digital and social media we have an offering that competes favourably in the advertising and sponsorship marketplace. We have the ability to create compelling and authentic content portraying strong human and brand values in abundance."

In its first year, Vendée2020Vision has provided training to aspirant competitors Andrew Baker, Conrad Manning, Henry Bomby, Jack Bouttell, Lizzy Foreman, Nikki Curwen, Robin Elsey, Sam Goodchild, Sam Matson and Will Harris, the majority graduates of the Artemis Offshore Academy.

On the water, these sailors have had the opportunity to train and compete on the Artemis Ocean Racing IMOCA 60 yacht, which British sailor Jonny Malbon raced in the 2008 Vendée Globe and which Whitecap has managed for the last 5 years. Whitecap has enlisted as Vendée2020Vision's lead coach, Dee Caffari, the only woman to have sailed round the world singlehanded in both directions as well as being a past Vendée Globe and Volvo Ocean Race competitor.

Vendée2020Vision sailors have had the opportunity to participate on training days with Dee to learn the ropes on the Artemis Ocean Racing IMOCA 60 – a significant step-up from the 32ft long Beneteau Figaro 2s and 21ft Minis they have been used to. IMOCA 60s are custom boats (ie each is different), and are technically much more complex with canting keels, daggerboards, kick up rudders, intricate electronics, etc. Compared to Figaros, they are also giant boats: Almost twice as long, their mast twice as high, and with a sail area some five times larger - much closer to the limit of what a solo racing sailor can physically operate. As a result different techniques are required to sail them.

In 2016, Vendée2020Vision sailors competed on the IMOCA 60 in 3,000 miles of Royal Ocean Racing Club offshore events. This culminated in them winning the club's Canting Keel Class trophy for the season.

The reason British competitor numbers in the Vendée Globe are dwindling is due to the sailors being unable to raise adequate backing and corporate Britain being unwilling to release its purse strings. Through its Vendée2020Vision initiative, Whitecap is working hard on both sides of this equation.

To improve their chances in the board room Vendée2020Vision sailors have had the opportunity to take part in 12 bespoke training modules that have included networking and pitch development coaching. The sailors have then had the opportunity to prepare themselves for boardroom scrutiny by testing their pitches. This they have done in a Dragon's Den-style 'real' environment, presenting to executives from Harrods and clients from accountants Grant Thornton, who have then provided their feedback.

Vendée2020Vision provides commercial support to sailors giving them the best chance of raising funds for their own campaigns, with Whitecap able to offer the added benefit of being able to take potential sponsors sailing on an IMOCA 60.

In conjunction with this, Whitecap is undertaking its own independent sponsorship search, spelling out the benefits of backing Vendée Globe campaigns to companies both in the UK and abroad. With the aim of casting their net wide, they have been working with leading media agencies and running advertising campaigns to promote British participation in the Vendée Globe in the Financial Times, the Financial Technologist and Harrods media.

Throughout 2016, the Vendée2020Vision sailors have been scored by a team including Whitecap's Commercial Manager Sean Woods and Sponsorship Manager Jess Dahlgren. Based on the outcome of the 2016 results, the sailors are being whittled down to six this year. Ultimately the top two will get the opportunity to compete aboard an IMOCA 60 in the Rolex Fastnet Race and subject to funding, the doublehanded transatlantic race, the Transat Jacques Vabre in autumn 2017.

Vendée2020Vision at London Boat Show

On Tuesday 10th January, Vendée2020Vision will be presented at London Boat Show, at the ExCel exhibition centre in London's Docklands. This will take place on the London Stage, hosted by Sky presenter Alec Wilkinson in two sessions: At 1315, Alec will be talking to Dame Ellen MacArthur plus Will Harris and Sam Matson from Vendee 2020 Vision, while at 1500, he will talking to other Vendee 2020 Vision sailors.

For more information on Vendée2020Vision contact Simon Clay at

Related Articles

Vendée Globe Closing Ceremony
All 29 skippers attend in Les Sables d'Olonne The closing ceremony for the 8th Vendée Globe took place on Saturday 13th May in Les Sables d'Olonne, in the presence of the 29 skippers that took part. A highly emotional event, this exceptional evening brought this maginificent edition to an end. Posted on 15 May
ArMen Race and the Mini en Mai
At Société Nautique de la Trinité sur mer in May May will see two major events organised by the SNT: the 350-mile offshore classic the ArMen Race and the Mini en Mai. Posted on 3 May
Thumbs up for foils
From the IMOCA General Assembly The IMOCA Annual General Meeting was held on Wednesday, 26th April in Paris at the Fédération Française de Voile. Posted on 28 Apr
Giant international gathering
For the Rolex Fastnet Race August's Rolex Fastnet Race remains on track for a record-sized fleet. Currently 390 boats are entered: 338 competing for the main IRC handicap prize; the remainder racing in the Class40, IMOCA 60, Volvo Ocean 65 and Multihull grand prix classes. Posted on 26 Apr
The World Sailing Show - April 2017
Going overboard – Conrad Colman's shocking secret Conrad Colman's blow by blow account of his experiences in the Vendée Globe touched thousands as he recorded the highs and the lows of his trip. But what he didn't tell the world during his 110 day race was that he had come perilously close to dying. Posted on 27 Mar
The 2016-2017 Vendée Globe
A hugely popular event and media success The results of the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe show huge increases everywhere: many more people attending the event, unprecedented media coverage and feedback nd a record level of international coverage. Posted on 25 Mar
Sébastien Destremau takes 18th place
To bring the Vendée Globe to a close Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst–faceOcean) crossed the Vendée Globe finish line off Les Sables d'Olonne in eighteenth place at 00hrs 40min et 18 sec UTC on Saturday 11th March 2017 after 124 days, 12 hours, 38 minutes and 18 seconds of racing. Posted on 11 Mar
Pieter Heerema finishes 17th in the Vendée Globe
116 days for Dutch sailor on No Way Back Dutch skipper Pieter Heerema brought his No Way Back across the finish line of the Vendée Globe at 2126hrs UTC this evening (Thursday 2nd March) to finish in seventeenth place. Posted on 3 Mar
Conrad Colman finishes 16th in the Vendée Globe
New Zealand sailor overcomes the odds to finish under jury rig New Zealander Conrad Colman wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the Vendée Globe when he crossed the finish line of the eighth edition of the non stop solo round the world race under a makeshift jury rig. Posted on 24 Feb
Romain Attanasio finishes 15th in the Vendée Globe
109 days 22 hours and 4 minutes in his 1998 boat French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the Vendee Globe non stop solo race around the world this morning (Friday 24th February) when he crossed the finish line at 1006hrs UTC. Posted on 24 Feb