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The 2016-2017 Vendée Globe, a hugely popular event and media success

by Vendee Globe 25 Mar 2017 09:16 GMT 25 March 2017
Armel Le Cleac'h on Banque Populaire VIII wins the Vendée Globe 2016-17 © Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

The results of the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe show huge increases everywhere: many more people attending the event, unprecedented media coverage and feedback, a record level of international coverage without talking about the very positive race outcome in terms of the rankings. With 29 skippers lining up, 18 were ranked, which is a record number in the history of the Vendée Globe.

With 29 skippers setting sail and 10 nations represented, the 8th Vendée Globe offered a wide range of projects, showing once again the increasing interest of the general public for a race, which brings together sporting performance, technological challenge and human endeavour. This Vendée Globe DNA has over thirty years contributed to the legend of the event.

In terms of visitor numbers, the last Vendée Globe beat all the records, with 2,250,000 visitors attending (1.5 million at the start and 750,000 for the finish). An increase of 25% if we compare this number to the 1,800,000 visitors present in 2012-2013. A huge popular success was confirmed, showing that the public are attracted to a race involving top class skippers and adventurers, who have contributed so many amazing stories to the legend of the Vendée Globe.

In terms of the media, the figures for the 2016-2017 race show how the international reputation of the Vendée Globe has grown with each edition, while seeing a strengthening of support in its bastion of France. These good results are largely down to the digital strategy put in place and the development of social media.

I – A first: 18 boats finish with many new records set

On the water, the 8th Vendée Globe was also a huge success. There were no dramas or major accidents. 4 boats were dismasted and one lost (Kito de Pavant's in the middle of the Indian Ocean).

In terms of the technology, the new foiling monohulls confirmed their efficiency. Four out of seven made it home and three took the first three places on the podium. This result confirms the level of preparation of the IMOCAs ahead of the race and the technological developments aimed at reliability and safety, in spite of the fact that there is bound to be damage in this sort of ocean racing.

1) The outcome of the race: 29 skippers set sail, 18 finished, 11 retired – a look at the damage

Eleven boats were forced to retire after suffering the following damage:

  • 5 retired after a collision: Bertrand de Broc (MACSF), Vincent Riou (PRB), Morgan Lagravière (Safran), Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord pour le projet Imagine), Kito de Pavant (Bastide-Otio).

  • 4 retired after dismasting: Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Coeur), Kojiro Shiraishi (Spirit of Yukoh), Stéphane Le Diraison (Compagnie du Lit - Boulogne Billancourt) and Enda O'Coineen (Kilcullen Voyager Team Ireland).

  • 2 retired with other damage: foil damage for Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) and damage to the keel ram for Paul Meilhat (SMA).

2) All of the records smashed

The eighth edition was once again a record-breaker, as we can see with the following facts and figures.

The most international line-up: 10 nationalities represented at the start (France, GB, USA, Spain, Hungary, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Japan)

The fastest Vendée Globe ever: 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds. Armel Le Cléac'h sailed around the world at an average speed of 13.8 knots and took four days less than the race record set in 2013 by Francois Gabart.

The fastest sprint: with a record distance of 536.81 miles in 24 hours (average of 22.4 knots), Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) took the 24-hour solo monohull distance record.

The Equator record for Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), in 9 days 7 hours 2 minutes, or 1 day and 4 hours better than Jean Le Cam's record set in 2004.

The Cape of Good Hope record for Alex Thomson, in 17 days 22 hours 58 minutes, or five days better than Armel Le Cléac'h's record from 2012.

The Cape Leeuwin record for Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII), in 28 days, 20 hours, 12 minutes, or almost six days better than François Gabart's reference time from 2012.

The Cape Horn record for Armel Le Cléac'h, in 47 days and 32 minutes, or five days better than François Gabart's reference time from 2013

The Equator record for Armel Le Cléac'h in 61 days 12 hours and 21 minutes, or four days better than François Gabart's reference time from 2013

Finally, a new race record for the winner Armel Le Cléac'h, in 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds, or four days better than François Gabart's time in 2013.

II – Exceptional media coverage

Whether we are looking at television, press, internet or social media, the media coverage of the Vendée Globe has increased dramatically and the total audience is much higher than for the previous edition. These results are largely thanks to a communication strategy based on video use, live broadcasts, the use of digital tools and social media. Here are the key figures:

1) A Vendée Globe with unprecedented coverage

An increase of 20% in comparison to 2012 if we look at French indicators. The coverage was valued to represent 7404 media units or a rise of more than 20% in comparison with the 2012 race. This would indicate that each French person was reached by the Vendée Globe 74 times on the various media throughout the race.

MEDIA: 45,000 reports, articles and messages linked to the Vendée Globe were recorded, shared out by the media in the following way: TV 36%, print media 22%, Web 19%, social media 15%, radio 8%. - 2180 accredited journalists on the Vendée Globe media server - 1676 journalists present in les Sables d'Olonne for the start and finish. - 645,000 pages viewed on the press photo server, as opposed to 491,000 in 2013 - 31,600 photos were downloaded by the media, 30% more than in 2013.

2) An explosion of TV coverage

> TELEVISION: 1236 hours of coverage (compared to 738 hours in 2012) With more than 1200 hours of TV coverage on 97 channels in 190 countries and on five continents, the TV coverage for the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe has increased dramatically in comparison to 2012-2013. Among the major figures, we can note a big increase in the number of channels – an increase of 50% (65 in 2012) and almost 500 extra hours of coverage in comparison to the last race (738 hours in 2012).

631 hours of broadcasting outside of France

The media enthusiasm for the Vendée Globe can be explained by the increase in the number of foreign countries represented by the skippers (10 in this race).

This coverage can be divided up as follows: 365.5 hours in Europe excluding France (as opposed to 147, or +148%), 83.5 hours in Africa and the Middle East as opposed to 47, or +77%), 11 hours in North America (as opposed to 8, or + 37%), 23 hours in South America (as opposed to 63, or -64%), 82.5 hours in Asia (as opposed to 127 or -35%), 18.5 hours in Australasia (as opposed to 8, or +131%), 47 hours on global channels (as opposed to 48, or -2%)

The live coverage of the start reflected this international dimension of the Vendée Globe with 33 TV channels (as opposed to 18 in 2012), which broadcast a total of almost 120 hours (as opposed to 32 hours).

FTA channels covered the event on their news not only to follow the progress of the skippers (and more particularly the channels in the country of origin of the skippers), but also to pick up some spectacular images such as the two leaders passing the Kerguelens. Among the most prestigious channels, we can mention CCTV (China), TV Asahi (Japan), CNN International (USA), BBC News (UK), RTVE (Spain) and SRG (Switzerland).

In France, there were 605 hours of television broadcast about the Vendée Globe.

Vendée LIVE- The dual French coverage on Infosport+ and BFM Sport alone generated 84 hours of television.

3) Huge increase in coverage on social media

> SOCIAL MEDIA: 264,000 fans (+350 %)
The fan base for the Vendée Globe grew considerably in this edition with 264,000 fans on Facebook (+350% since 4 years ago), almost 54,000 followers on Twitter (+280%) and more than 23,800 subscribers on Instagram (account created for this edition). For the first time, the number of videos viewed on Facebook (41 million) overtook the number of videos viewed on the websites via the Dailymotion (24.7 million) and Youtube (4.6 million) platforms.

> LIVE: 13 million views
The three daily live shows on the race website and Dailymotion exceeded 6.5 million views in all (live and replay). In addition to this number, we should add in views on Facebook: 6.4 million views. Or a total of almost 13 million views (excl. TV coverage).

> VIDEO: 71 million videos
Video is the favoured means of communication for the Vendée Globe and skippers. As proof of that, 71 million videos (+140 % in comparison to 2012) were viewed during the race, including 42 million on Facebook, 25 million on Dailymotion and almost 5 million on Youtube…

4) High vistor numbers on Internet with games like Virtual Regatta

> WEBSITE and APP: 345 million pages viewed
The numbers for the official website remain impressive with almost ten million single visitors, 87 million visits and 260 million pages viewed during the race. With the mobile app (downloaded 242,000 times), the total for the website and App (smartphones + tablets) comes to 345 million pages viewed.

> VIRTUAL GAME: 456,712 players
The Virtual Vendée Globe was raced by 456,712 players, including 231,000 who completed the race. 1600 primary school and secondary school classes took part, involving almost 40,000 children. 96 French departments took part in the virtual race with Loire Atlantique, Paris and Vendée being the most represented. It was the club ‘Les Sports Nautiques Sablais' with 193 registered that was the club with the highest number of entrants.

III – Huge growth in visitor numbers to the Villages

With 1.5 million visitors over the three weeks leading up to the start, then 750,000 visitors (as opposed to 501,800 in 2013) for the finishes between 13th January and 10th March, visitor numbers for the 8th Vendée Globe smashed all the records. In all, 2,250,000 visitors were recorded in Les Sables d'Olonne for the start and finish of the eighth Vendée Globe (as opposed to 2,000,000 in 2012-2013).

IV – The success of the Junior Vendée Globe

1) Educational pack

The Junior Vendée Globe saw 1500 packs distributed in schools half of which went to those in Vendée. Polls have shown that more than 90 % of teachers were pleased with the quality of the pack. It was widely used and often copied for other classes.

2) The Junior Vendée Globe website

This pack was in addition to the Junior Vendée Globe website. The Junior Vendée Globe website saw almost 258,900 single visitors and more than 2 million pages were viewed.

3) Almost 13,000 youngsters welcomed to the village

School classes were given a special welcome to suit their needs for two hours. They were welcomed and accompanied by members of the Vendée Arts and Heritage School.

6570 school children were thus welcomed to les Sables d'Olonne or 148 schools and 244 classes.

6429 school children and around ten associations (a hundred or so people) were welcomed in addition to these arrangements at the start Village for the Vendée Globe.

V – A charitable Vendée Globe

The eighth Vendée Globe once again offered an opportunity to promote charitable, educational and humanitarian causes. These campaigns made the public more aware of these causes and encouraged their support.

Tanguy de Lamotte once again associated his sailing with his support for the Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque association, which operates on children from poorer countries. Thanks to his involvement, in spite of dismasting early in the race, several children's lives were saved (20 children were operated on and saved following on from his 2012 Vendée Globe).

Eric Bellion conveyed a message supporting difference with his project "Comme Un Seul Homme". Eric wanted to share with as many people as possible his belief that difference is something positive, a source of innovation, where everyone gets richer and we should help people feel at home in firms and our society.

As for Yann Eliès, he supported the Leucémie Espoir Federation, a charity helping the sick and their families in the quest for treatments for leukaemia. This partnership stressed the work done by the Federation and allowed some of the sick to get away from their problems by experiencing the adventures of Yann and the other competitors in the Vendée Globe.

Thomas Ruyant flew the colours of the Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine. This project aimed to throw the spotlight on people, who achieved heroic actions to help others without being in the limelight.

Finally, Rich Wilson backed an educational programme focusing on science, mathematics, history and geography. This programme was sent out and followed by thousands of youngsters around the world.

VI – Prize-giving ceremony on 13th May in Les Sables d'Olonne

The prize-giving ceremony will be organised differently due to safety reasons and to ensure the comfort of the spectators while considering the cost of the operation. It will take place in two stages:

  • A prize-giving ceremony for invited guests at Les Atlantes at 7.45 p.m.
  • A procession of the skippers on the seafront in Les Sables d'Olonne with a fireworks display from 9.30 to 10.45 p.m.

This ceremony will mark the conclusion of the Vendée Globe and allow the public to see the skippers together for one final time.

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