Clarisse Crémer has been cleared of any misconduct following anonymous accusations that she cheated during the 2020 Vendée Globe by discussing routing options with her husband by WhatsApp

Clarisse Crémer has been cleared of any misconduct following anonymous accusations that she cheated during the 2020/21 Vendée Globe by discussing routing options with her husband, Tanguy Le Turquais.

The accusations were made via leaked photos of Whatsapp messages exchanged between Crémer and Le Turquais during the race, which were anonymously sent to some French media outlets, IMOCA skippers, and the FFVoile (the French sailing federation) on Sunday February 11.

Crémer, who finished 12th in the solo unassisted round the world race, had posted a vociferous denial of the accusations four days later, in which she insisted that: “I never cheated, I never had any desire to break a rule during this 87-day world tour.

“No conversation I had with him contributed to me changing course or making a strategic choice that would have had an impact on my race. I have always made all my performance choices alone and unassisted according to the rules.”

The conversations were held on a phone owned by her former sponsors, Banque Populaire, which Crémer says she also left accessible after arriving back in Les Sables, in accordance with the race rules.

Cremer finished the last Vendee Globe in 12th position and Photo: julia.huve /

Today the Vendée Globe organisers released a statement confirming that the allegations of misconduct against both Crémer and Le Turquais had been dismissed.

In the statement Alain Leboeuf, President of the Vendée Globe, said: “On 12th February this year, the President of the French Sailing Federation informed me of the anonymous e-mail he had just received implicating Clarisse Crémer, who had allegedly benefited from routing information from her husband Tanguy Le Turquais during the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe.

“Since then, the French Sailing Federation has asked me and the Race Committee to appoint a Jury to analyse the veracity of the information and its content.

“The International Jury is entirely convinced that there was no misconduct on the part of either Clarisse Crémer or Tanguy Le Turquais and you will understand that it is not for me to make any comment whatsoever on a decision taken by the federal sporting authority.

“I therefore take note of these conclusions, which were reached in complete independence.”

Cremer Jury findings

The jury’s findings (translated by Tom Grainger) were reported. 

They included the fundamental principles that there is no time limit on calling a hearing under Rule 69, so “the evidence of pictures of WhatsApp messages is just as valid today as it would have been during the 2020-2021 race if it had emerged then. The passage of time has not diminished its significance.”

The report continued: “The main evidence examined, discussed, and questioned were 14 screenshots of WhatsApp messages between Clarisse and Tanguy, from an unknown source, presumably some of many such messages as part of the permitted communication between Clarisse and Tanguy during the race, using the boat’s phone and Tanguy’s own phone.

“Five pictures included examples of route images generated by Tanguy. This concerned very different parts of the race (passage of the Theta low pressure, approach to Cape Horn, return passage of the equator and finish). The International Jury accepts that Tanguy was trying to understand Clarisse’s intentions, for his own reassurance for her safety (as husband) and in order to answer media and family questions. The routes did not include any detailed information about wind, wave states, time and course options that Clarisse could adapt for her own use for routing.

Cremer reunites with husband Tanguy Le Turquais after finishing the 2000 Vendee Globe. Photo: Olivier Blanchet/Alea

“Two pictures related to Clarisse having a problem with her AIS, and wishing to check whether she was visible on the MarineTraffic website.

“The final pictures relate to Clarisse’s projected finish, in relation to severe weather conditions. This was an issue raised by Race Management, which was providing competitors with advice and weather information and encouraging them to coordinate their plans with their teams.

“For this reason, a WhatsApp group was created with the race management, the boat, the shore team and the weather consultant. The timing of her finish was also a relevant issue for the media and for personal arrangements. Her boat was several hours behind the previous finisher and several hours in front of the next boat.

“Clarisse’s weather models used with the routing program was more sophisticated than Tanguy’s, and she was using it for many hours every day.”

Cleared of misconduct

The jury reached the conclusion that: “The screenshots do not demonstrate that “routing” took place as defined in the article.

“Clarisse did not ask for routing advice from Tanguy. She never followed any of the screenshots from Tanguy. They were not useful information for her. She was always in possession of better information and had the time to work on her plans. 

“The screenshots do not demonstrate that Clarisse received performance support as described in the article.

“The Race Management team applied the NoR article Exceptional Circumstances at the end of the race for Banque Populaire, due to safety concerns due to high winds and exceptional weather, to ensure safety of the competitor and her boat. This included permitting conversations and options for Banque Populaire’s finish.

Clarisse did ask Tanguy’s opinion about her finishing route intentions, but that was for safety, and included the possibility of deliberately slowing, to avoid low tides or a night-time arrival given the bad weather. These were issues to which Race Management had alerted all competitors and shore teams of boats likely to be affected. She therefore did not receive outside help.

The jury’s conclusions also noted: “Tanguy had sent several course options to Clarisse, on his own initiative. The International Jury feels that this was not a wise or necessary thing to do, but accepts that his intention was to get clarification of Clarisse’s plans rather than to advise her what to do.”

This will likely become an ever-increasingly careful line that skippers and teams must tread as mid-ocean communications on the IMOCA 60s become not only sophisticated, but as simple to use as sending a message at home. Last race the skippers were already using WhatsApp chat groups and Kevin Escoffier’s rescue was in part co-ordinated on Skype.

The jury’s verdict is that: “Rule 69, Misconduct – The International Jury is completely satisfied that there [sic] was no misconduct by either Clarisse Crémer or Tanguy Le Turquais.”

Crémer is currently campaigning for the 2024 Vendee Globe selection with her new L’Occitane en Provence campaign, managed by Alex Thomson’s team.

In a statement on her new team website, Crémer said: “Of course, I am relieved by this decision, and I thank the jury for examining our case with impartiality and professionalism. Now that these challenging moments are behind us, the team and I can get back to work to prepare for the Vendée Globe 2024.”

Team mentor, Alex Thomson added: “We have weathered this storm together as a team. We have always supported Clarisse, standing by her every day. Clarisse is a person of great integrity, and we were all convinced of that, with the jury’s decision serving as proof.”