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European nautical events not to be missed

European nautical events not to be missed

Hoist the sails and cast off: set a course for Europe's must-see yacht races!

Lovers of the sea and wide open spaces, adventurers and sailing enthusiasts, this article is for you!

Embarkwith Orca Retail on a tour of Europe's most prestigious sailing events.

From legendary regattas to colorful festivals, get ready to experience exceptional moments at the heart of the marine world.


Vendée Globe: The Holy Grail for solo sailors

The Vendée Globe, often dubbed "the Everest of the seas", is much more than just a sailing race. It's an extraordinary human and sporting adventure, a test of endurance and self-transcendence that pushes skippers to brave the planet's most extreme elements.

Created in 1989 by Philippe Jeantot, the race has seen 9 editions since its creation,departing every 4 years from Les Sables-d'Olonne, in the Vendée.

The route, a distance of approximately 45,000 km, takes sailors on a round-the-world voyage, non-stop and without assistance, passing through the three most formidable capes: Cape of Good Hope, Cape Horn and Cape Leeuwin.

Over the years, the Vendée Globe has produced a number of sailing legends. Among the most illustrious winners, include :

  • Titouan Lamort (1990) : First winner of the event, he circumnavigated the globe in 109 days, 8 hours and 49 minutes.
  • Armel Le Cléac'h (2016) : Event record holder with a time of 74 days, 3 hours and 3 minutes.
  • Yannick Bestaven (2020) : Winner of the last edition, he crossed the finish line after 89 days, 16 hours and 47 minutes.

 With each edition, millions of people follow the race with passion, admiring the courage and self-sacrifice of the skippers. It's a true human and sporting adventure that inspires and inspires, a symbol of the spirit of adventure and the human capacity to push back one's limits.

Next edition : November 10, 2024

Website :


Route du Rhum: A legendary transatlantic race

Linking Saint-Malo in Ille-et-Vilaine to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, the Route du Rhum is a legendary transatlantic race that is part of the great history of sailing.

Created in 1978 by Michel Etevenon, every four years it attracts a diverse fleet of yachts and skippers from all over the world. An extraordinary adventure that promises a unique experience and an intense sporting challenge.

The route of the Route du Rhum, some 3,700 nautical miles long, takes skippers on a demanding transatlantic crossing. From trade winds to tropical depressions, calm zones and heavy seas, the sailors have to cope with varied and sometimes extreme weather conditions. A technical and strategic challenge that tests their know-how and ability to adapt.

The duration of the Route du Rhum varies considerably depending on the category of boats competing. The maxi-multihulls, the fastest in the fleet, generally complete the course in just over 6 days. Monohulls, on the other hand, take several weeks to cross the finish line, with race times that can exceed 30 days.

Since its creation in 1978, the Route du Rhum has seen many legendary skippers shine. Among the greatest winners include

  • Alain Colas (1978) : First monohull winner of the event, he disappeared at sea a few days after arriving in Pointe-à-Pitre.
  • Philippe Poupon (1986) : First multihull winner, he ushered in a new era of multihull dominance in the Route du Rhum.
  • Laurent Bourgnon (1994) : Monohull winner with a record time that was not beaten until 24 years later.
  • Gitana 11 (2002) : First maxi-multihull to win the event, with Franck Cammas at the helm.
  • Loïck Peyron (2014) : Winner in the Ultimate category with a new event record, beaten four years later by Charles Caudrelier.

In 2022, French skipper Charles Caudrelier smashed the Route du Rhum record in the Ultime category aboard his maxi-trimaran Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. He crossed the finish line in Pointe-à-Pitre in 6 days, 19 hours, 47 minutes and 25 seconds, shattering the previous record set in 2018 by Francis Joyon by more than 2 days.

Next edition : 2026

Site internet :


The Tall Ships Races: A grandiose spectacle of giant sailing ships

The Tall Ships Races, is an opportunity to see and admire majestic sailing ships from all over the world.

The race was born in the aftermath of the Second World War, at a time when Europe was seeking to rebuild and reunite. In 1953, London lawyer London lawyer Bernard Morgan proposed the organization of a friendly race between young cadets and sailors from all over the world, to promote international friendship and traditional sailing training. The first edition of The Tall Ships Races, which took place in 1956 between Torbay and Lisbon, was an immediate success.

Since then, the event, organized in various European cities, offer a grandiose and unforgettable spectacle. Parades at sea, boat tours, entertainment on land : a rich and festive program awaits young and old.

The Tall Ships Races 2024 will take place from Thursday June 27 to Monday August 5. On the program: three exciting races and two quieter legs for a total of 5 countries (Lithuania, Finland, Estonia Estonia, Åland Islands and Poland) to discover the treasures of the Baltic Sea.
Next edition: June 27, 2024
Site internet :


Kiel Week: The world's largest regatta

Far from being a simple sporting competition, the Kiel Week is a true maritime festival rooted in German history and culture. Created in 1882 on the initiative of naval officers and local notables, over the years, it has become a must-attend event for sailing enthusiasts from all over the world.

Every year at the end of June, the city of Kiel is transformed into a vast nautical theater. More than 1,500 boats and 15,000 sailors from over 70 countries gather for a week of intense racing in all sailing classes, from the smallest boats to high-performance maxi-multihulls. A grandiose spectacle and fierce competition that punctuates the days of the spectators, to admire the sailors' prowess.

Beyond the sporting events, Kiel Week offers a rich and varied program for all audiences. Sailboat parades, open-air concerts, floating villages, exhibitions and children's entertainment: there's something for every taste and every age!

Next edition: June 19 to 28, 2024

Website :


Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez: A concentrate of glamour and sailing

If today the Voiles de Saint-Tropez shine with a thousand lights, their origins are rather modest. Back in 1981, two skippers, Jean Laurain and Dick Jayson, set themselves a friendly challenge: to sail from the port of Saint-Tropez to Pampelonne beach via the Nioulargue shoal. The winner was to buy lunch for the other crew.

Before long, this friendly challenge turned into a real race, attracting more and more participants and spectators. In 1999, the event took on its current name, "Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez", and became an unmissable reference in the world of sailing.

Every year, at the end of September, the Gulf of Saint-Tropez is decked out in multicolored sails. Elegant classics, luxury yachts and ultra-modern racing boats face off in fierce competition, offering spectators a grandiose and unforgettable spectacle. Intense competition set to the rhythm of the wind, strategy and skilful skippers.

More than just a sporting event, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is also an unmissable social gathering. Glamorous evenings, glamorous evenings, sumptuous parties and fashion shows, attracting the biggest names in the international jet-set. A unique atmosphere where luxury, elegance elegance and a passion for sailing.

Next edition: September 28 to October 6, 2024

Website :


The Giraglia Rolex Cup: A Mediterranean challenge for seasoned sailors

Created in 1953 by the Yacht Club Italiano, the Giraglia Rolex Cup has established itself as one of the world's most prestigious offshore races. Its list of winners includes such illustrious names as Michel Desjoyeaux, Philippe Briand and Franck Cammas, all of whom have written their names into the legend of this extraordinary competition.

Taking off from Saint-Tropez, the Giraglia Rolex Cup is a 600-nautical-mile ocean race, punctuated by sumptuous landscapes and sporting challenges. Tracing its course through the western Mediterranean, around the islands of Italy and France, offering sailors a grandiose spectacle between sea and sky.

Next edition: June 13-20, 2024

Website :


Les Fêtes Maritimes de Brest: A trip back in time to the heart of Brest's heritage 

Created in 1979, the Fêtes Maritimes de Brest (formerly the Festival des Vieux Gréements de Brest) is part of a long maritime tradition that goes back several centuries. The city, a former military and commercial port, has always maintained a close link with the sea. Every four years, the festival is an opportunity to celebrate this rich heritage and share the passion for navigation with the general public.

For one week, the port of Brest is transformed into a veritable open-air museum. Hundreds of traditional boats from all over Europe gather for spectacular parades, offering spectators an unforgettable nautical ballet. Exhibitions, concerts, street entertainment and pyrotechnic shows also punctuate the festival, creating a festive and convivial atmosphere for all ages.

Next edition: July 12-17, 2024, the first in 8 years!

Website: https: // 


The New York Vendée: A solo transatlantic crossing

Created in 2013, the New York Vendée, formerly known as the Transat New York - Vendée Les Sables d'Olonne, is a solo transatlantic race linking New York (USA) to Les Sables-d'Olonne (Vendée).

The course, some 3,700 nautical miles long, is dotted with dotted with formidable capes such as Cape Finisterre and the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

Skippers have to contend with often difficult weather conditions, with violent winds, colossal waves and extreme temperatures.

Next edition: unknown, 2024 edition launched on May 29.

Website: https: //


L'Arctique Vendée: An icy adventure in the vastness of the Far North

The Arctic Vendée is a solo race created in 2018 linking Les Sables-d'Olonne (France) to Ivalo (Finland), via the North-East Passage. With a length of 6,500 nautical miles, it is the longest and most difficult transatlantic race in the world.

The skippers taking part in the Arctic Vendée face extreme weather conditions, with freezing temperatures, strong winds and threatening icebergs. The course, punctuated by narrow passages and dangerous navigation zones, demands great technical mastery and an unfailing ability to adapt.

Due to unusually severe ice conditions in the Northeast Passage, the 2022 edition of the Arctic Vendée was modified. The course bypassed Iceland to the south, shortening the total distance to 3 300 nautical miles.

The next edition of the Vendée Arctic is scheduled for 2026. The exact route has not yet been defined, but it is likely to include the North-East Passage, offering skippers an even greater challenge.

Next edition: 2026

Website :


Tips for taking part in or observing nautical events

  • Plan your trip in advance: Major sailing events attract a lot of people, so it's important to book your accommodation and transport in good time.
  • Find out more about the event: Visit the event website to find out about the program, conditions of participation and observation points.
  • Attend on-shore entertainment: Most nautical events offer on-shore entertainment, concerts, exhibitions and booth villages.
  • Respect safety: Don't forget to respect the safety instructions and follow the organizers' instructions.



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