Vincent Riou: The Complete Package
If you sat down with a blank piece of paper and tried to design the perfect Vendée Globe skipper, you would almost certainly end up with a character looking very much like Vincent Riou.
Riou is the complete solo ocean racing package. Part scientist, part engineer, part mariner and at times part action hero; it doesn’t matter what aspect you are talking about, when it comes to Vendée Globe experience, the 44-year old Frenchman has pretty much been there, seen it, done it and has a wardrobe full of t-shirts to prove it.
Before winning the race at his first attempt in 2004-05, Riou was was responsible for preparing the winning boat for Michel Desjoyeaux in the previous edition. His own victory came after 87 days, when he finished just seven hours ahead of his nearest challenger, fellow Frenchman Jean Le Cam, after the two French skippers had fought an epic pitched battle since before rounding Cape Horn.
Riou showed his hand as an action hero in the 2008-09 race when he bravely rescued Jean Le Cam from certain death when his rival’s yacht turned upside down in the wilds of the Southern Ocean.
He has not been immune from disaster himself: after damaging his yacht’s outrigger during Le Cam’s rescue, the pair were dismasted shortly after passing Cape Horn and had to be towed to safety by the Chilean Navy. Then, after starting the last Vendée Globe as one of the firm favourites, just 15 days into the race and while in third place, Riou smashed into a metal harbour buoy that had torn off its mooring and drifted into the mid-Atlantic. The freak collision caused major damage to the hull and outrigger forcing a devastated Riou to pull out.
Although sailing has turned him into something approaching a household name in France, if Riou competed in a mainstream sport he would undoubtedly be an international superstar by now with his own clothing range and more than likely a hit reality TV show to boot.
Now back for his fourth Vendée Globe he is the only person in with a chance of becoming the second skipper in the history of the race to win it twice.
“It’s an incredible race, because it’s hard to win,” Riou explains when asked what keeps him coming back. “The route is amazing and so are the boats. Plus, the field is tremendous; there are... READ FULL ARTICLE