The Vendée Globe is a single-handed (solo) non-stop yacht race around the world without assistance. The race was founded by Philippe Jeantot in 1989, and since 1992 has taken place every four years. It is named after the Département of Vendée, in France, where the race starts and ends. The Vendée Globe is considered an extreme quest of individual endurance and the ultimate test in ocean racing.


The 2016 - 17 race started from Les Sables d'Olonne on November 6, 2016; it was the eighth competition, with 29 skippers from ten countries. It lasted 124.5 days while going around the three great capes - the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), Cape Leeuwin (Australia) and Cape Horn (Chile) and saw a record 18 skippers make it to the finish line.

This edition of the race was the first to feature foiling monohull boats equipped with hydrofoils and was therefore closely watched to evaluate the durability of foils in such circumstances. Of note, the four foiling boats sailed by professional skippers that made it to the finish line took the top places, indicating that such appendages are likely to be adopted by other sailors. The winner of this edition was Armel Le Cléac'h, finishing on January 19, 2017 in a record breaking time of 74 days, three hours and 35 minutes. Other records were set during the course, including the greatest distance covered by a monohull over the course of 24h, the fastest southbound crossing of the Equator and Cape of Good Hope by Alex Thomson. Winner Armel le Cleac'h also broke the record for the fastest crossing of Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn and the Equator (northbound).

The race featured the youngest and oldest skippers ever to complete the race - on consecutive days (Alan Roura, 23 years old; Rich Wilson, aged 66). Also, Didac Costa was forced to return to harbour after less than one hour of sailing as a result of water damage to the boat's electric system. He returned to the race four days later and finished in 14th place. In addition, Conrad Colman finished under jury rig after dismasting 715 nm from the finish, while running short on food and electric power. The latter was compounded by the fact that his boat - Foresight Natural Energy - was propelled solely by renewable energy sources and the critical speed required for using hydrogenerators as well as sunlight to feed his solar panels were short of par. Colman was the first skipper to complete the Vendée Globe without using fossil fuels, two weeks after breaking his mast.



BOC Challenge British Oxygen Company sailing yachts Clipper round the world yacht race Global Challenge steel formular yacht race round the world Golden Globe


Velux ocean 5 sailing yacht race Vendee Globe Volvo ocean race Whitbread round the world yacht race







Sailing boats are zero carbon vessels that may one day make a comeback in terms of scheduled cargo transports, more than likely not in the form enjoyed in current yacht racing sport, taking seamanship out of the equation.


Importantly, races such as these keep the ocean in the public eye, but don't portray the current issues facing the planet in terms of climate change and marine pollution. Rather, they present a romantic image of the sea. This is not to detract from the enormous skills of the competitors, the designers of the boats or the good intentions of the organizers - of which we hugely applaud - and which endeavors should continue for the sport of sailing.


Most large luxury yachts afloat today rely on diesel engines. They can fairly be described as gas guzzlers, contributing to global warming. The owners of these gleaming plastic palaces have made their money in a society based on fossil fuel consumption before scientists drew attention to the need for more environmentally sound transport, heralding a need for a change in technology if we are to stay afloat with a clean bill of health.


Those with a love of the sea can remain on the water by moving to sails and employing a crew for the chore or move to automated rigging, or by using motorized vessels that are solar powered. You will see from the history of sailing events that there have been numerous brand lead and formula changes to attract philanthropists as responsible corporations willing to invest in clean energy. It is certain then, that electric yachting will eventually gain attention as promising technology in the battle against global warming.



The Elizabeth Swan worlds fastest solar powered boat  


THE ELIZABETH SWAN - [Left] The graceful lines of this beautiful solar powered boat complements the zero carbon cruising ideal that many designers and United Nations planners aspire to under SDG13. When built the Swan's hull will be the largest solar powered boat in the world at 43 meters (140ft). She could also prove to be the world's fastest blue water cruiser.


A NEW BREED - [Right] On the 4th of May 2012, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar set a world record for the fastest solar powered circumnavigation of 584 days also going into the Guinness Book of World Records for other electric boat achievements. PlanetSolar began its epic adventure from Monaco, also coming home to the harbour for a solar powered celebration. Though nearly seven years ago, we wonder if the success of this venture might one day lead to solar ocean races, where it is technically feasible to equal the times of most yacht sailing races.









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