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Young British Sailor James Harayda Aiming To Break Records At Prestigious Vendée Globe

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Gentoo Sailing Team has launched its campaign to compete in the 2024 Vendée Globe, led by Skipper James Harayda, who is aiming to be the youngest sailor to compete in the 2024 edition of the race.

The Vendée Globe is considered as the pinnacle of ocean racing, and one of the toughest sporting challenges available. The race is a solo, non-stop, and unassisted circumnavigation of the planet.

The next edition of the race, commencing in November 2024, will be limited to only 40 entrants. To be considered for entry in the Vendée Globe, Skippers must qualify themselves by competing in several pre-determined races, taking place between 2022 and the start of the Vendée Globe in 2024.

Gentoo Sailing Team was founded two years ago by British sailor James Harayda, who has competed in high-level offshore racing around the world, has twice been crowned as British Champion in the Doublehanded Class and represented the country in the Doublehanded Offshore European Championships.

Ahead of the push for Vendée Globe, Gentoo Sailing Team has unveiled their new IMOCA 60 racing yacht, a 60-foot, hydro foiling boat that previously broke the record as the first IMOCA to cover 500 nautical miles in 24 hours, set by fellow Brit Alex Thompson.

Gentoo Sailing is committed to the environment, with sustainability at its core. At the 2024 Vendée Globe race, the team will be carbon neutral, and when it aims to compete in the 2028 edition, it’s striving to be able to do so carbon negative.

During the race, Harayda will be utilising data to support his challenge and give a performance advantage while racing. He will utilise data across three key areas; The Boat (speed, position, load, power usage, etc.), 

The Environment (wind speed, direction, air and water temperature, salinity and pollution levels), The Man (heart rate, sleep patterns, calorie intake and exertion etc.).

In 2020 the 24-year-old teamed up with Dee Caffari MBE, who in 2006 became the first woman to sail solo non-stop around the world, westwards, against prevailing winds and currents.

The offshore sailing icon also completed the Vendée Globe in 2009, becoming the first woman to sail solo around the world in both directions.

Caffari and Harayda initially teamed up and raced successfully together in the Mixed Doublehanded Offshore class with an aim to win a gold medal for Great Britain in the 2024 Paris Olympics. On the cancellation of the class by the IOC, the pair refocused and developed this Vendée Globe campaign.

James Harayda said: “The Vendée Globe has always been the pinnacle of ocean racing, just finishing this race is an incredible feat, winning it is simply heroic.

There is also so much more to this event than the race itself. The journey to the start line is considered one of the hardest parts of the race – the funding required, racing calendar, preparation needed, technical know-how, and just the sheer scale of the project is unbelievable and cannot be underestimated.

“For me, this race is about achieving something that very few people ever have. Less people have done this than been into space or climbed to the top of Everest. It is also about using this platform to show the world that being sustainable, in all uses of the word, does not come at a cost to performance.

“Our aim as a team is to build our skills, knowledge, and partnerships through 2024 with an aim to win the Vendée Globe in 2028, making me the youngest and first-ever Brit to do so.

I have a fantastic team around me which will be growing as we progress and I am confident that given the right resources, we can win this race in 2028.”

In addition to the Vendée Globe campaign, Gentoo Sailing Team has this year launched its Youth Development Program, with Caffari as the Trustee, and backed by the Ian Atkins Keelboat Award (IAKA).

The program has selected 10 male and 10 female sailors, aged 16-23, and from all different backgrounds to race on its youth boat in the UK JOG and RORC offshore racing season.

The program’s aim is to offer a clear, achievable, and timebound pathway for the young sailors involved. All the sailors have different ambitions within the sport and Gentoo Sailing Team is working with each of the young sailors in order to open as many relevant doors as possible to help them realise these ambitions.

The sailors will benefit from mentoring, on and off-the-water coaching, technical workshops, and offshore racing. The sailors will also gain skills in teamwork, communication, and leadership and play a role in the team’s wider sustainability projects.

Dee Caffari MBE, a veteran of the race, concluded: “The Vendée Globe takes talent and ability as well as resilience and tenacity. Having sailed with James for the last 18 months I have seen these qualities in him.

He is a young, ambitious sailor who is keen to learn and improve. He is open to new ideas and willing to hear feedback, and these characteristics have made him a pleasure to sail with and I am keen to help him realise his dream of a Vendée Globe entry.”