Vendée Globe skipper Clarisse Cremer has rebutted anonymous accusations that she cheated during the 2020 race by discussing routing with her husband ashore.

Clarisse Cremer, who finished 12th in the 2020/21 Vendée Globe, has posted a firm rebuttal of anonymous accusations that she cheated during the solo around the world race by discussing routing with her husband ashore.

The accusations were lodged anonymously and did not initially name Cremer, but allegedly included photographs or screenshots of WhatsApp messages sent from a Vendée Globe skipper to their shore team.

While communication systems onboard the IMOCAs competing in the Vendée Globe have become increasingly sophisticated, the fundamental rule remains that no skipper can receive weather routing or navigation assistance from their shore teams.

Clarisse Cremer on Banque Populaire X finishes the 2020 Vendee Globe race, on February 2, 2021. Photo: Olivier Blanchet/Alea/IMOCA

French sailing website Voiles et Voiliers reported that the photographs were sent via an anonymous email to some media outlets, some other Vendée Globe skippers, and Jean-Luc Denéchau, president of the FFVoile (the French sailing federation) on Sunday February 11.

Although they have not been made public, Voiles et Voiliers reported that the pictures of the WhatsApp messages were visibly taken onboard the Banque Populaire-sponsored Ultim (which is currently competing in the round the world Arkea Ultim Challenge Brest). Banque Populaire was Cremer’s sponsor during the 2020/01 Vendée Globe, before they controversially dropped her as a skipper last year.

Cremer today ended speculation as to the identity of the accused skipper by posting on her social media pages. Her husband, Tanguy Le Turquais – also an IMOCA skipper – echoed her post.

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Clarisse responds to allegations

“I want to respond to the recent accusations that have been brought against me in the last few days,” Cremer wrote.

“I learned about the opening of an investigation by the Federation Française de Voile about the WhatsApp exchanges I had with my husband during the Vendée Globe 2020.

“These exchanges took place on my board phone, owned by my former team, which I left accessible to all as soon as I landed in accordance with the rules.

“I never cheated, I never had any desire to break a rule during this 87-day world tour.

Cremer reunites with husband Tanguy Le Turquais after finishing the 2020 Vendee Globe. Photo: Olivier Blanchet/Alea/IMOCA

“During our exchanges, which are mainly related to the intimacy of a couple, Tanguy never gives me any information that I did not already have.

“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.

She went on to say that she was “outraged by the response that anonymous denunciations can have without even questioning their regulatory basis, nor the context of those posts. I am scandalised at how these screenshots are exaggerated to draw hasty and false conclusions, which completely bypass official investigations, and are already hurting us.

“Three years after the end of Vendée Globe, we can only wonder about the motives and timing of this anonymous disclosure and we reserve the right to make a complaint if necessary.

“For my part, I am of course at the disposal of the FFV and Vendée Globe to analyse our exchanges in full transparency.”

Cremer and her husband both put out statements firmly denying the rumours of routing during the 2020 Vendée Globe. Photo: Bernard Le Bars/Alea/VG2020

IMOCA class responds

The IMOCA class also issued a statement yesterday. “We are aware of the publication of an article reporting suspicions of routing in the Vendée Globe 2020-2021.

“This situation is currently in the hands of the competent institutions responsible for regulating and monitoring competitions within the Fédération Française de Voile. We express our full confidence in their ability to carry out impartial and thorough investigations.

“The use of personalised weather assistance and routing from sources external to the boat is prohibited in the context of IMOCA racing. This rule is a fundamental pillar of our commitment to fairness and sporting integrity.

“With this in mind, we stress the importance of a procedure that is carried out with a good knowledge of our races and their rules, in a calm and exhaustive manner.”

This is the third major controversy to break in the IMOCA class in the past year, following Cremer’s very public falling out with her previous sponsors last year, and Kevin Escoffier being suspended by the FFV for 18-months following accusations of sexual assault by a member of his Holcim-PRB team during The Ocean Race in May last year.

The FFV also disqualified the final stage winner of the 2023 La Solitaire du Figaro, Benoit Tuduri, for breaking class rules after he was found to be carrying a second mobile phone and downloading additional weather data.

Cremer’s Vendée campaign

Cremer currently holds the record for being the fastest woman to sail solo around the world thanks to her race with Banque Populaire in the last Vendée Globe.

She was initially named as the skipper who would take over Charlie Dalin’s former Apivia for Banque Populaire in the 2024 race, until they controversially ended their sponsorship deal in February 2023, apparently due to the fact that her qualification for the race would be in doubt after she took time out to have her first child.

Banque Populaire later withdrew entirely from the race, and British former Vendée Globe skipper Alex Thomson’s team swiftly bought the former Apivia FRA 79 – widely considered the fastest IMOCA 60 in the previous generation fleet.

Cremer currently skippers L’Occitane en Provence, the former Apivia. Photo: ATR Racing

In March 2023 it was announced that Cremer would skipper the yacht, with Thomson as Team Principal, under new sponsorship by French skincare company L’Occitane en Provence.

Whilst this reignited Cremer’s campaign, qualification for the 2024 Vendée Globe is still not assured – according to the published selection table which lists entered skippers and their qualification miles, she is currently ranked 41st. The top 39 skippers will secure their place in the race, with a 40th ‘wild card’ entry invited by race organisers.

There are, however, still several major races in which IMOCA skippers can earn additional qualifying miles this ear, including the CIC Transat, which starts in April, and the return New York to Les Sables D’Olonne transatlantic in May.