French footballer kicks off a new solo round the world boat


France’s most famous sportsman sprinkled some celebrity stardust on a new solo yacht yesterday and promised to get his feet wet. Zinedine Zidane unveiled a new Open 60 being built for the Vendée Globe race for Breton sailor Yann Elies and ‘Zizou’, as he’s known in France, vowed to be back for the baptism of the boat in May and spend a night at sea on board.

The boat, sponsored by French insurance company Groupe Generali, is one of 16 new Open 60s destined for the next solo round the world race. Her designers, Groupe Finot, fell out of fashion during the last race cycle but they boast four previous winners, and are a rising force again. Next year, they will have three new boats on the start line, including one being built in Lymington for Britain’s Alex Thomson.

Yann Elies’s new 60 is taking shape at Multiplast in Vannes, Brittany – thanks to the efforts of 15 builders and 20,000 hours of work.

There will be a 6-page feature on the brutal new generation of solo round the world yachts and sailors, and how this cult world is rapidly changing, in the March issue of Yachting World.