Three Key Things To Know About The Rookies

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Eight skippers have taken their first solo steps in the IMOCA class this season. Some might have sailed and raced IMOCAs before but now they are solo, others are stepping on to the solo stage for the first time. All have ambitions to race the Vendée Globe.

Antoine Cornic (Ebac Literie)

His life: He is the son of the French 470 sailor Michel. But Antoine has a taste for the open sea. His life choices have seen him to alternate between his lives as a sailor, on the one hand, and as a restaurateur on the other. Last February, he sold his final restaurant to go back to sea at the age of 42.

His Arctic Vendée: “Nobody knows where we are going, even those who did the first one. Are we going to go round Iceland. I hope so. What are we going to discover? I do not know. It's a bit like the going back to pioneering adventure days and that fits my boat. I have no hope to win. I want to finish and tell my stories. This race is great for me”.

More info: A mattress bears his name. A nod to his challenge from partner, Ebac Literie (Beds) who are the French leader in the manufacture of mattresses. They gave the name Antoine to a 100% recycled and recyclable mattress, which won the innovation prize at the last Furniture Fair. For 2 years, Ebac has been working with recycled plastic, especially from the sea.

Louis Duc (Fives – Lantana Environnement)

His boat: He restored a boat that was the victim of a fire, namely Clément Giraud's former boat, which caught fire on the pontoon before the Transat Jacques Vabre 2019. "It is quite a story to find people for us to accompany in this challenge". The boat itself already has a place in the legend of the Vendée Globe. It was Vincent Riou’s PRB which rescued Jean Le Cam during the Vendée Globe 2008-2009. During the mission to collect Le Cam from his upturned boat near Cape Horn an outrigger shroud was damaged and Riou’s mast was lost after Cape Horn. The International Jury gave him redress to 3rd.

His thanks: They go to Fabrice Amedeo, other skippers in the IMOCA class and Michel Desjoyeaux. After a superb 14th place in the 2021 Transat Jacques Vabre with Marie Tabarly, Duc let his team sail the boat back home. But they dismasted. Michel Desjoyeaux offered him a 2012 mast cut exactly as needed. With this optimized mast and some new daggerboards, the skipper of Fives – Lantana Environnement has now got new partners. A happy ending.

His Arctic Vendée: "The Arctic suits me very well, I'm a guy from the north and don’t like the heat especially. I've been there before, in this area. I did a race called the Paimpol - Reykjavik, we went up to Iceland. I know what to expect in terms of temperatures and depressions. I also went for a walk with Xavier Macaire in southern Greenland, I also went to the Lofoten islands. I like it up there lot, it changes your outlook and your habits.”

Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyeur – duo For A Job)

The Atlantic with a sextant: He was an adventurer before he became a racer. Benjamin Ferré jumped in at the deep end doing a transatlantic with a sextant, the old fashioned way. “We had reckoned that it would last three and a half weeks… it took us three months”. Luckily he has a full set of electronics on board his IMOCA, the ex-Macif on which François Gabart won the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe.

Advice from Anne Le Cam: Mentored by Jean le Cam to have a go at the big Vendée Globe adventure, Benjamin Ferré takes advantage of the advice of Le Cam (or not) to progress. During the Guyader Bermuded 1000 Race, the first race of the spring, he lost “4 kilos in 5 days. Anne took charge of my nutrition program”. Always listen to Anne Le Cam.

Do your own thing: "Each time I have tried to sail a little above my level, I had problems", says theskipper, who was however warned. By Jean le Cam, who has formed a collaborative team around him in order to pool a certain number of subjects: “As soon as you have ideas above your station you quickly get slapped down. Clack, clack, clack.


Nicolas Lunven (Banque Populaire)

Objective n°1: The luxe stand in for the pregnant Clarisse Crémer on the helm of the IMOCA Banque Populaire (ex-DCNS, ex-Comme un seulHomme, ex-Groupe APICIL) which is chartered from Crémer’s partner Tanguy Le Turquais who aspires to do the next Vendée Globe too. So Nicolas Lunven has set his own agenda " namely to sail cleanly, to spare the boat and to respect the rhythm of what awaits me. I will need to get the balance right between competition and safety”. The route looks good: he finished 4th in the Guyader Bermuda 1000 Race this spring, when he was just discovering the boat but Lunven already finished fifth in the Transat Jacques Vabre with Sam Davies and second with Kevin Escoffier in 2019.

Objective n°2: He has launched his own Vendée Globe 2024 project has the double winner of the Solitaire du Figaro. And so this is a great opportunity to strengthen his ambitions: “These pre-season races bring me a breath of fresh air. They allow me the opportunity to strengthen my challenge for Vendée Globe selection, a difficult match. I am lucky to be able to score points for my project and strengthen my experience”.

The Arctic: “It’s a leap into the unknown. The tour of Iceland will be difficult. The island is extremely high which can generate very complicated winds, and the water is cold.”

Sébastien Marsset (Cap Agir Ensemble – #SponsorsBienvenus)

Round the world: He has done three round the worlds, two on the Volvo Ocean Race, as part of Franck Cammas' team, winners in 2011-2012. He has also been round on the Jules-Vernes trophy attempt second fastest with the maxi trimaran Spindrift. Now he is going it alone because ‘it is time’.

His job as team manager for Romain Attanasio during the last Vendée Globe is : "If Romain trusted me, it is because I am legitimate". His Arctic: “I am preparing for the North Atlantic in the spring. The northernmost latitude is 67°N, which means pretty tough conditions, quite cold. We will have to go around Iceland, which means 1200 miles around that northern passage.”

His boat: Built for Jérémie Beyou in 2006, the ex-Delta Dore only reached the finish of the Vendée Globe in 2016-17 when Louis Burton finished seventh. Érik Nigon lent it to Clément Giraud for the last edition (22nd). The boat is the oldest in the fleet. On the Bermudes 1000 Sébastien Marsset finished 13th out of 24 participants.

Guirec Soudee (

Brrrr: “We are going to the north and I am very happy about it. We are going to cross the arctic circle to go around Iceland, where I have never been. We may encounter ice which is fine by me because, even if it might be pretty, the boats are not made for that”. And the IMOCAs are of course more fragile than the steel hull of the Scorpion 9 boat on which he circumnavigated the poles. Back then he wintered for months in the pack ice. So the cold should not scare him.

Revving up: “I have gone from a Citroen 2CV to a Ferrari and so it so great to be able to cover miles faster. Now everything is big it is very tense all the time. You have to know how to find the limit, but I’m getting there. I am very honored to be in this environment. I am the new little chick in the henhouse. I'm looking to progress."

Cluck cluck cluck: Monique, the little red hen who went with Soudee on his marathon long world tour, is not authorized to accompany him on the Vendée Arctique solo race. But she is fine at home leading a retired lady’s life.

Denis Van Weynbergh (Belgian, Biarritz Laboratories)

The North ? “I crossed the Arctic Circle on foot in 1987. Here we want to do something a bit more extreme and that is so much the better. All part of learning skills to know how to adapt to the unknown. There's more adventure."

The objective: The Belgian skipper wants to finish within 150% of the time of the leader, a limit set by the organization of the race before the finish line closes. “If we come back from the bad weather breaking anything we will have fulfilled an objective”.

Volunteers: In Les Sables d'Olonne, where he has set up home, Denis van Weynbergh relies on volunteers who are fully into his project. “These volunteers make the project different and really great. These people work after 6 p.m. and late at night on our boat. They have created an association independent of me to work on and get stuff done”.

Szabolcs Weöres (Hungarian, Szabi Racing)

Jack of all trades: Like his mentor Nandor Fa, Szabi dabbled in various sports (see below). Nandor Fa was a wrestling, canoeing and sailing.

Iron man: When he took a break fromsailing, the Hungarian took up running, completing seven marathons (some of them in less than 3 hours) and throwing himself into triathlon. He competed in many Iron Man triathlons in less than 9 hours, and qualifying for Kona, the world championship. Sailing: Szabi comes from a family of sailors.

His sister represented Hungary in 470 at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She is married to Ian Ainslie, a South African Olympic and America’s Cup sailor. This is how Szalbocs Weöres, a rigger by trade ended up looking after the rigs and rigging with the South African Cup team Shosholoza.