Sailing 19 January 2017 Back to list
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After 74 days of solitary circumnavigation, without stopovers or assistance, on Thursday 19 January, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII) won the Vendée Globe, the most extreme yacht race in the world! This represents an immense triumph for the Julbo skipper, equipped with Race 2.0 eyewear.


This is a victory he has had his eyes on for a long time. Second in 2009 and second in 2013, this time Armel Le Cléac’h has made his dream come true. Third time lucky: now on his 3rd Vendée Globe, the 39-year-old Breton sailor has at last succeeded in inscribing his name in the pantheon of the ‘Everest of the seas’. A just reward for this talented, meticulous, precise skipper who is as fast as he is inspired in his strategy. But it is also the result of a true group effort with his Banque Populaire team, which designed and built his all-carbon monohull, a yacht that has proven powerful, hardwearing and a real flyer!

At 16:37 Armel Le Cléac’h arrived at Les Sables dOlonne yesterday after a duel that saw them involved in a breathtaking race and finish. The ambassador of the Julbo nautical team has thus concluded his circumnavigation in a record time: 74 days, 03 hours and 35 minutes, pulverising the record established by François Gabart in the last edition by no less than 4 days! All in all, this has been a wholly astonishing performance, made possible in part by technological innovations and especially by the development of new hydrofoils (curved wing-like foils creating lift at high speed and enabling the boat to rise out of the water), but above all thanks to the man!


Like the other 28 skippers who set off on the extreme race that began at Les Sables d’Olonne last 6 November, Armel quickly jumped into the deep end and its swirling eddies. The start was bracing, to put it mildly: with a speed in excess of 32 knots (60 kph) in the Bay of Biscay, the Julbo skipper rapidly moved up the rankings.

After a week of racing, near the approaches to the doldrums (the intertropical convergence zone), the first strategic options began to be implemented within a fleet that hitherto had remained fairly compact. This was the moment Alex Thomson chose to take the offensive and take control of the pack. And it marked the start of a naval battle in the form of a duel between Armel and the Welshman.

After hurtling at top speed across the Atlantic, the two leaders reached the Cape of Good Hope at the end of November. The first of the three great capes marked the entrance to the southern oceans, the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties… At these hostile latitudes, conditions become wetter and wetter, the cold is biting, the swell grows and waves break on deck. Albatrosses were seen gliding above Banque Populaire VIII, offering Armel the sight of an aerial ballet, and a few days later, in the midst of the Indian Ocean off the Kerguelen Islands, while surfing at the forefront of a depression at the northern limit of the ice, Armel came across a different sort of odd-looking bird: a French naval helicopter that took some astounding photographs! The shots travelled around the world. 

A few hundred miles further one, on 3 December, the Julbo skipper kept a promise he had made: to be leading the Vendée Globe on the day of his son Edgar’s birthday. Two days later, the sailor-dad crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, south of Australia, the marker signalling his arrival in the Pacific Ocean. Outside the boat, conditions were… bracing! Armel was feeling the blues for the first time. But the deep south offered all its magic to comfort him: its blue sky by day and the splendid stars by night, with the moon reflected in the waves. 

During this time, the gap with Hugo Boss was widening, becoming almost an abyss: more than 800 miles (nearly 1,500 km) at the time of rounding the legendary Cape Horn two days before Christmas! This, of course, was a great gift for Armel, who was determined to stay as boss in his bearded adventurer outfit.

The sail back up the Atlantic was initially comfortable on board, but was subsequently marked by snares and pitfalls that had to be dealt with. Physical and mental tiredness began to make itself felt. And the gap with Alex Thomson was melting like snow in the sun, as temperatures began to rise. Around the tropics, Armel was given no help by the weather, which instead was favourable for his adversary. After creeping slowly across the doldrums, Armel made clear his hunger to win and began to swallow up the nautical miles. Steam was rising over the Atlantic by now!

Three days before arrival at the finish line, the two skippers were neck and neck and pushing out record figures: more than 500 miles (in excess of 900 km) in 24 hours… The last “straight line” proved to be tortuous, the last tack a stress. But right to the end, with an eye looking over his shoulder, the “jackal” was in command. In the last few hours of the race, his strategy proved a winner, and on 19 January he finally attained his holy grail. Well done!

(c) Vincent Curutchet - BCPE


“Julbo and I go back a long way. Working over a long period of time makes it possible to create something durable, to swap notes, to add a human dimension. Julbo has always backed me, in victories like today, but also in the most difficult times. Loyalty counts and repays the effort put in! Julbo eyewear is technical and light, at the service of performance. The products have evolved well since I have been part of the team. The brand takes note of the technical feedback it gets. In situations of light winds, for example, Julbo eyewear can help us read the water surface more easily and make out the gusts that cause ripples. And the range is very complete too; every sailor can find the right eyewear to suit.”


For accomplished sailors, Julbo offers a range of high-performance nautical eyewear. Its rounded and panoramic frame allows for a wide view over the horizon. Its aerated lenses assure excellent ventilation. The 3D Fit Nose and Grip Tech earpieces ensure the eyewear stays in place even when everything around is bucking. And with the fitted floating cord, it is easy to fish it out if it should go flying.

“l really like this frame because I forget I’m wearing it!” Armel Le Cléac’h

Race 2.0 nautic

Comments (1)

Stryckman,le 19 January 2017
respect !

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