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2004-5 Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou on joining Class 40: “We race looking for commitment, confrontation, combat.”

Updated: Apr 25

At 52 the winner of the 2004-2005 Vendée Globe Vincent Riou is setting out on a new program, racing in Class40. After a year of sailing alongside Aurélien Ducroz, Riou has his own boat, Pierreval – Fondation Goodplanet (n°203, Pogo S4, Verdier), which shows some innovations with one single rudder and a tab on the keel) And he is highly motivated to reach the top echelons of the fleet and to enjoy himself.  

What motivated you to join Class40? Quite simply I still wanted to sail. It’s what I love. It is my enduring, fundamental passion. And Class40 is a class that suits me well. I looked at what was also happening in Ocean Fifty but there was a little less visibility for the program. Class40 is a simpler boat, not complicated, without needing a big budget and needing only a small team. It suited my current situation very well. I have done so much IMOCA that I wanted to see what was happening elsewhere.

“Not necessarily being the fastest but the smartest”

Starting with a solo race on a complex, usually upwind North Atlantic is quite a challenge! I really like The Transat CIC. It’s a race that hasn’t always been successful for me but I have good memories of it. I don't like to take the easy route. I wanted to have fun but also to participate in the races on the calendar and to get closer to Quebec-Saint-Malo. And then returning to the United States by sail is something very powerful.

What good memories do you have? What I like is the challenge of doing this race. Here, weather situations can evolve quickly. There are plays, strategies. You don't necessarily have to be the fastest but the smartest to manage the sequence of systems. In the end, the finish is still great: we rarely get the opportunity to finish in North America under sail. It is an emblematic place, a place steeped in history. The island of Manhattan is one of the most iconic places on the planet.

You have an innovative boat with a single rudder, a fin on the keel… Are these innovations that can be a special asset on this race? The idea of innovation is to try to go as fast as possible on the race. I think it might not be too bad in the North Atlantic: it theoretically gives me a little advantage upwind.

It is a very high level through the Class40 fleet That’s what I am here for ! Doing a transatlantic without a depth of competition would be much less interesting. During the last edition there were few IMOCAs but we had a proper ding dong head to head with Armel le Cléac’h. That’s what we’re all looking for. This year, in Class40, there are all the best sailors. Afterwards it will inevitably be complicated the really great races are never easy. We come looking for commitment, confrontation, combat. And I am convinced that there will be plenty.



You know IMOCA like the back of your hand. How do you view the fleet and this new season? It's a superb fleet! The challenge is particularly interesting with two transatlantic races and the Vendee Globe this year, all after finishing very late the previous season. There are some very nice projects, very well managed. I think five to six teams are above the rest like in many other classes. There are also very diverse projects and an interesting female presence with Sam Davies and Justine Mettraux. I can’t wait to see Justine’s performance with her new foils! It's going to be a great race! 


You set off at 52, Jean Le Cam is 64 does that show that passion for ocean racing has no age limit?

 I'm still good! Jean, it’s starting to get more extreme (laughing). As long as you love it and the desire is there, there is no reason to deprive yourself. For me, it's a pleasure to be back and I'm not doing it out of obligation but out of pleasure. But I'm not saying that I'll be still here at 64!