Icy conditions, towering waves and roaring winds – the Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race is one of the toughest endurance tests imaginable. Winning the challenge is the ultimate triumph in the world of sailing. Following a brilliant second place in 2017, our BOSS sports ambassador Alex Thomson is determined to claim victory in 2021. We take a closer look at the race to find out what makes the Vendée Globe such a demanding and exciting odyssey.
• The Vendée Globe yacht race is the only non-stop, solo race around the world without assistance. It is known as the Everest of the Seas.
• The race was founded in 1989 and since 1992 has been held every four years.
• In 2012-13 race, 20 skippers lined up at the start of the Vendée Globe – only 11 managed to cross the finish line.
• Vendée Globe boats are all 18.28 metres (60 feet) long.
• In 2016-17 race, French sailor Armel Le Cléac'h broke the previous record by 3 days, 22 hours and 41 minutes, setting a new benchmark of 74 days, 3 hours and 35 minutes.
• Bay of Biscay - the first hurdle. Skippers can face south-westerly storms between Les Sables d’Olonne and Cape Finisterre, while a northerly flow could mean a fast trip from the western tip of Spain to Madeira and then to the Canaries.
• From the Doldrums to Saint Helena - an area defined by capricious weather, unpredictable winds and storms, making it a huge trial. Studying weather charts is essential to success.
• The Indian Ocean - travelling south means adapting to change, and quickly. Lower light, the cold and rain are features of this leg of the epic journey.
• The Pacific Ocean - the seas at this stage are more predictable, but something else isn't: the appearance of icebergs, many undetectable by radar. Sailors must be on constant watch, which can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue.
• South Atlantic - the penultimate stage is an uphill climb. Sailing against the wind is not uncommon, and violent gales must also be faced with flagging energy.
• North Atlantic - on the home stretch, temperatures fall, but here is where the first signs of human contact appear – trawlers, fishing boats, and finally the lights of the shore.
• Alex Thomson has achieved two podium finishes in this unique race. In 2013, he came in third place, while 2017 he was runner up.
• Coming second is a feat in itself, but Alex’s success was even more astounding. His boat endured significant damage from a collision with a large unknown object in the sea just 13 days into the race.
• In 2017, Alex Thomson broke the record for the furthest distance sailed in in 24 hours by a solo sailor – a huge 536 nautical miles.
• Alex Thomson has confirmed that he will take on the next Vendée Globe race, again in partnership with HUGO BOSS as sponsor.
• The new HUGO BOSS yacht will join the start line on 8 November 2020.
"So many things can go wrong, but for me it's the one race I'd like to win over any other."