The 3,500 mile Vendee Arctique race to Iceland and back is underway.
Following the testing of all the helms for Covid-19 just before the race start – anyone testing positive would have had to withdraw – the all-clear allowed the race to start on time in a building Atlantic weather scenario on Saturday.
The 20 sailors head south-west of Iceland then to the Azores before returning to Les Sables d’Olonne.
That fleet includes 6 of the 8 with a latest generation Imoca. The two absent are Nicolas Troussel, still at the very early learning stages of Corum L’Epargne, and Alex Thomson who said he considered it . . . “an unnecessary risk, so close to the Vendée Globe, to take the boats further north that Cape Horn is south.”
Most of the entries need to finish the race to get the sailing time and so there are not many who are in a position to really push hard, as their objective is to finish and validate their qualification for the Vendée Globe.
Sailing journalist Matt Sheahan tips for the podium are: Charal, Apivia and LinkedOut.
Charal was the first of the new generation and the first to suffer some breakdowns. Apivia is another new generation boat with some decent miles under its keel and a win in last year’s TJV, Dalin proved that he could get the best out of a new boat without breaking it.
Thomas Ruyant has proved himself in variety of offshore classes and demonstrated that he can win whatever the class.
The disrupter could be Initiatives Coeur, a well proven and now, comprehensively upgraded boat with new foils and a sophisticated autopilot system that was ahead of its time in the fleet.
Hugely experienced across a range of boats, conditions and race courses with thousands of miles under her, Davies can adapt quickly to changing conditions.