Updated: Feb 13, 2022
Joshua Slocum may have done it first, but he won't be the last. Every four years since 1989, sailors cast off from the Atlantic seaside town of Les Sables-d'Olonne in western France for the start of the Vendée Globe, a single-handed race around the world. Unlike the VELUX 5 Oceans Race (formerly the BOC Challenge) which is sailed in stages, the Vendée Globe is non-stop and competitors may receive no outside assistance.
The race follows the clipper route: from Les Sables d’Olonne, sailing south in the Atalantic to the Cape of Good Hope; clockwise around Antarctica, keeping Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn to port; then back to Les Sables d’Olonne. The Vendée typically runs from November to February during the austral summer.
Godforsaken Sea is the account of the 1996-1997 Vendée Globe. Fourteen men and two women set out on the race. Summer in the Southern Ocean can mean six-story waves traveling at forty knots, unrelenting cold, and icebergs. Throw in sleep deprivation, equipment failure, capsizing, and even having to perform your own surgery, and you have yourself a great read. Derek Lundy presents a compelling account of the race. This book is brilliantly written, engaging, and difficult to put down. The novice sailor will close the book with an understanding of boats and weather and the psychology of sailing alone. The seasoned sailor may well have a raised pulse and a bead of perspiration on his or her brow. The next Vendée Globe starts November 8, 2020 and will run until sometime in February 2021. The next race starts November 10th, 2024.
There is a mobile app to follow the race. Check it out here: http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/