7 November 2004 will be the start date of the next Vendee Globe non-stop Around the World Race
The news was announced in front of an estimated 80,000 strong crowd gathered on the beach (at low tide) of Les Sables d'Olonne for a spectacular official prize-giving for the race on Saturday night (2nd June).
Not one of the three podium skippers would commit either way for the next Vendée - Roland Jourdain (Bilou) 'No comment', Michel Desjoyeaux 'I might, I might not' and Ellen 'we'll see, I can't say definitely no'. Bilou continues at present to race his monohull 'Sill' and will line up against Ellen and 'Kingfisher' at the EDS Atlantic Challenge in just a few weeks time. Both skippers are also crewing onboard 60 foot trimarans during the year, keeping their options open. Meanwhile Vendee winner Michel Desjoyeaux continues his search for sponsorship in time to build a new trimaran for the Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race in 2002, but plans to line up against the other monohulls in 'PRB' at the Grand Prix inshore event (intense races of just 3 to 4 hours) in Quiberon June 15-17th.
All of the skippers spent the afternoon with the race organisation for a debriefing and discussion on safety and other aspects of the race, the first time that they have all been together since before the start. Philippe Jeantot, the originator and organiser of this event promised to have the rules fixed by April 2002. With interest in the race at an all time high, and a limit on the number of entrants likely to be imposed, discussion of qualification criteria was already on the agenda.
Pre-race favourite Yves Parlier, the 'Robinson Crusoe' of this event after his amazing survival story following his dismasting, also has new plans with 'Hydropter', a space-age flying machine that skims the water on hydrofoils and was conceived with French aerospace companies to break as many speed records as possible.