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Vendée Globe - The Jackal and the British Lion

Armel Le Cléac'h and Alex Thomson are the ‘big beasts' of the Vendée Globe - The Jackal and the British Lion.

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The appearance on their race boats Monday caused long, human traffic jams

Logic alone dictates that they are two of the outstanding favourites to win this eighth edition of the solo non stop round the world race.

Le Cléac'h has been runner up twice, to Michel Desjoyeaux in 2008-2009 on Brit Air, and in 2012-2013 to François Gabart after a round the world match race. Thomson was third last time.

Le Cléac'h, 39, is skipper for Banque Populaire VIII, one of the Vendée Globe programmes with the biggest budget and the most accomplished cutting edge technical programmes, including the optimisation of their hydrofoils and sailplan.

The French media consider him heir apparent to the Vendée Globe crown.

British entry Alex Thomson, on his fourth attempt has one clear goal.

He wants to become the first non-French sailor to win the most prestigious solo race, after already making it to the podium in the 2012-2013 race.

His Hugo Boss is the most menacing, threatening IMOCA, the latest and most extreme looking design to be launched.

One year ago today his boat was upside down in the Atlantic off Portugal and he was being rescued in a helicopter.

But today his boat is substantially rebuilt and reinforced.

Thomson showed great speed potential when he led the summer's New York-Vendée warm up before problems with his electrics compromised his attack.

Thomson has added a further 10,000 miles in the Atlantic since the summer.

His second iteration of his foiling daggerboards failed almost immediately and he is back on his Version 1.

But he is content his boat is sound and significantly faster even than during his Transatlantic race.

Thomson remains something of an unknown threat to the top French hierarchy.

Le Cléac'h considers him a rival capable of winning: “Alex is the one whose boat we know least about,” Le Cléac'h said Monday.

The nine foreign skippers registered:

- Didac Costa (Spain), 35, 1st attempt
- Nandor Fa (Hungary), 64, 3rd attempt (5th in 1992-1993, retired in 1996-1997)
- Rich Wilson (USA), 66, 2nd attempt (9th in 2008-2009)
- Alex Thomson (Britain), 42, 4th attempt (retired in 2004-2005 and 2008-2009, 3rd in 2012-2013)
- Alan Roura (Switzerland), 23, 1st attempt
- Pieter Heerema (Netherlands), 64, 1st attempt
- Kojiro Shiraishi (Japan), 49, 1st attempt
- Conrad Colman (New Zealand/USA), 32, 1st attempt
- Enda O’Coineen (Ireland), 60, 1st attempt

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G New
31 October 2016 18:55 GMT


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