Last January 13 Alexia Barrier announced the launch of The Famous Project which has the aim of challenging for the the Jules Verne Trophy in 2024 with a 100% female crew. Barrier was a finisher on the last Vendée Globe, but lacking real experience in oceanic multihulls, the 40-year-old Mediterranean sailor admits she will be “following her instincts”. Tip & Shaft learns more.
In fact almost all of the 2020 Vendée Globe competitors have already announced their plans to participate in the next edition but the next Vendée Globe is not for Alexia Barrier. 24th on the last solo round the world race aboard TSE 4Myplanet, at first she certainly thought of doing it again before coming up against the extremely tight second-hand IMOCA market (see our article), which required her to able to find and mobilize funds very quickly.
So she has launched The Famous Project, which she does not consider as her fallback solution: “My first idea was to go around the world again and I really needed a good reason to not go for it. But since I was a youngster the Jules Verne Trophy has also been on my bucket list, so I have decided to follow my instincts.”
The concept of a round the world record attempt with an exclusively female crew is, of course, not new. The first attempt on the catamaran Royal Sun Alliance led by Tracy Edwards in 1998 ended with a dismasting in the Pacific. She did help form a whole generation of female sailors (Sam Davies, Emma Richards, Miranda Merron, etc.). And that was followed up with a team led by Ellen MacArthur leading a mixed crew on Kingfisher II, early in 2003, the challenge also ending in dismasting. Since then Dona Bertarelli on Spindrift 2 (now Sails of Change) has been the only woman to have tackled the Jules Verne.
Putting together the skills
Idec Sport on the radar
The MOD70 will be used to select and train the crew on classics such as the Middle Sea Race and on a few records, including Marseille-Carthage. At the end of 2022, it will return to Gibraltar before heading to the start of the Rorc Transatlantic Race at the beginning of January 2023. The objective is then to reach the Pacific to try to beat the record held by the crew of Lionel Lemonchois on Gitana 13 between San Francisco and Yokohama (11 days).
The crew, scheduled to operate at 7, will be mixed for the first couple of years with sailors like Sidney Gavignet, Johnny Malbon, Brian Thompson or Paul Larsen, bringing their experience of high speed multihulls. “The ambition of the project is to be exclusively female on the Jules Verne Trophy, but, in the meantime, we are a mixed programme and we also received a lot of CVs from boys.“
Looking for 8 million over 4 years
In the quest for sponsors PR and Marketing expert Anne Millet adds, “Alexia benefits from an incredible network which seems to be set in motion more vigorously than for a Vendée Globe. For a sponsor the interest of the Jules Verne is that you are free to go when you want and you are not racing in the shadow of 40 other boats.”