Swiss sailor Alan Roura will make his third attempt to sail around the world in the 2024 Vendée Globe— a single-handed, non-stop round-the-world yacht race considered ‘the Everest of the Seas.’ The race will begin on Nov. 10, 2024.
The event is held every four years, and Roura’s first attempt was at 21 years old. Roura competed with a tiny budget and the oldest IMOCA 60 in the fleet. Out of 29 competitors, he finished in twelfth. The last race was a war of erosion, with eight of the 33 entries retiring and one lost at sea, which went on to include more later on in the race.
For the 2024 Vendée Globe, Roura will welcome British skipper Alex Thomson’s former Hugo Boss boat, a revolutionary design built in Britain and designed in collaboration with Thompson’s team and French naval architects VPLP.
First launched in 2019, the 60-foot-long black carbon-fiber yacht features premier hydrofoils and solar paneling on the deck. It sails without using fossil fuels to power onboard systems like computer navigation and communications. Roura estimated that in today’s world, it would cost roughly $8.8 million to build and prep a vessel of this status.
Traditionally, the cockpit is completely enclosed for the skipper’s safety, which Roura recognized will be an adjustment for him to get used to.
“The idea of living and sailing inside is very different, but everything is well thought out,” said Roura in an article from Yachting Magazine.
The boat was designed around Alex Thomson’s figure and frame, and Roura has a slightly agile build but is skillful and very fit. Roura executes mental and physical adjustments to make for such a state-of-the-art boat.
“You can be the best sailor in the world, but you have to hold the race mentally; anything can happen, so I must believe that I will cross the finishing line,” Roura went on to say in the article. “Some days you can feel really good and the next day you may break something, and the race falls apart. When you begin a race, you realize that any minute can be your last one.”
Loneliness plays a significant factor when independently traveling around the world in a boat, but Roura remains positive.
“It’s normal to miss family and friends, but two or three days before the finish you suddenly get really stressed about being amongst people again,” said Roura in the article.
Roura reflected on his last race, which occurred during the COVID pandemic, as he departed with no one waving him goodbye.
“I didn’t want to hear the world news while I was sailing, just news about family and friends, and so as I was sailing up the channel to Sable d’Olonne (the base for the race) and saw it lined with police, I [realized] it was the same as it had been three months ago only worse, and fleetingly thought ‘I want to go back to sea,” said Roura.
Believe it or not, loneliness is not the only stress factor that comes into play. Skippers are also responsible for finding sponsors to get their campaign in motion.
Roura’s boat is rented for the campaign, but his investors bought the boat the same day that his title sponsor, Swiss watchmaker Hublot, signed the contract. Hublot is famous for football sponsorship but has previously sponsored Swiss America’s Cup boat Alinghi and the Ocean Race. The brand’s classic Big Bang watch design is based on the shape of a ship’s porthole, and it will launch a limited-edition piece for the next Vendée Globe.