A familiar face around the Caribbean is famous French sailor Michel Desjoyeaux, winner of the 2008-2009 Vendee Globe. This marks the second time Desjoyeaux has won this challenging around-the-world race, breaking the record by finishing the solo race in Sables d’Olonne, France on February 1, 2009 after 84 days, 3 hours, and 9 minutes—and 28,300 miles—at sea. He beat the old record by more than three days. And he is the first sailor to ever win the race twice!
As for his Caribbean credits, Desjoyeaux won the first Ag2r transatlantic race from France to Saint Barth in 1992, the Route du Rhum (France-Guadeloupe) in 2002, and the Jacques Vabre in 2007. And those are just a few of the wins in his incredible career. For the 2008 Vendée Globe, he sailed aboard the powerful 60’ Foncia, designed by Bruce Farr Yacht Design.
Other renowned sailors in the Vendee Globe who have sailed in Caribbean waters include Roland Jourdain, who won the Route du Rhum in 2006, the Jacques Vabre in 1995 and 2001, and the Ag2r in 1994, among his many other wins. Armel Le Cleach also has some Caribbean sailing experience, in the Route du Rhum coming in fourth in 2006, the Ag2r in 2004, and participating in the 2007 Jacques Vabre race. And Jean Le Cam was the winner of the Ag2r in 1994 (and also participated in 1996 and 2008).
The Vendee Globe is one of the world’s most taxing nautical adventures: almost three months at sea, sailing alone, non-stop, and without assistance, while facing dangerous weather conditions, often quite far from any shores. Of the 30 boats that started last November 9, at least 18 did not finish. As for Desjoyeaux, hopefully his itinerary will bring him back to the Caribbean in the near future: maybe for the Transat Ag2r in 2010.
Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Saint Barthelemy where she is editor-in- chief of Harbour Magazine, and has been a regular contributor to All at Sea since 2000.