The Fédération Française de Voile (FFV) has told organisers of the Golden Globe Race the event can’t start and end in France because the rules for the event do not meet their regulations.
The race is due to start on 1 July 2018 from Les Sables d’Olonne.
But in a letter to Yannick Moreau, the president of Les Sables-d’Olonne agglomeration, the FFV has raised concerns about the safety of the event.
The vice president of the FFV, Henry Bacchini, told the French news website, acu.fr, that the organisation of the race ‘does not fit at all, at all, in all the necessary safety, health, etc. processes’
He added that the Golden Globe Race is a ‘completely random and dangerous test’.
Chairman of the 2018 Golden Globe Race, Don McIntyre, has expressed his surprise at the FFV’s announcement as the two sides are due to meet on 14 December 2017 to discuss the rules of the race.
‘We have opened discussions with the FFV and have already changed some critical elements of the Rules, and are working hard to accommodate all their suggestions,’ said McIntyre.
‘We have a meeting with the FFV set for December 14 to discuss these issues so I am at a loss to understand why the FFV would go public before that meeting,’ he added.
The race will see up to 30 skippers will sail single-handed around the world without the aid of modern technology.
The event was intended to be a recreation of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, in which Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation.
Competitors will have to navigate and sail using the same equipment available to the original 1968-69 competitors, although they will be equipped with a satellite phone, which has GPS disabled, to provide daily updates and interviews with race control.
Each boat will also include a satellite tracking device, from which the skipper will not be able to access a GPS position.
For safety, they will also carry a sealed box containing a chart plotter and another satellite phone. If they are forced to break into the box, the competitors will be able to continue in the race, but within the ‘Chichester Class” as if they have made one stop.
Jean-Luc van den Heede, who has completed five solo circumnavigations, and is a competitor in the Golden Globe Race, said: ‘I have some experience with races that everyone predicted would be impossible, dangerous, suicidal etc. During the build-up to the first Mini Transat Race which started from England in 1977, the French skippers were very much targeted by the French Maritime Affairs who wanted to prevent us from competing. It was hardly better in the second edition …until the race became French, and a few years later, Mr Le Pensec, the Minister of the Sea, started the race.’
‘During the first Vendée Globe Race the ‘specialists’ also predicted the worst, but look what this event has become today. At the time, the FFV was not responsible for this type of competition, but now in 2017, the rules that the Federation want to apply are made for modern boats equipped with the latest technology,’ continued van den Heede.
‘We will have the latest technology in terms of safety, but our boats are old and have proven themselves over decades. I very much hope that the FFV will relax some rules, because our slow boats do not create a danger to shipping,’ added the French skipper.
Yannick Moreau told acu.fr he had no doubt the competition would go ahead.
‘Golden Globe Race will leave Les Sables d’Olonne on 1 July 2018. There may be regulatory headwinds today but an adventure like this does not stop at national settlement points,’ he said.