As the 2022 Route du Rhum approaches, we take a look at some of the top names set to compete in the race. Toby Heppell looks at Romain Attanasio's chances

Nothing about Romain Attanasio’s early life indicated that he might end up a solo offshore yacht racer. He was born to a skiing family in the Hautes-Alpes region of France where he grew up far from the sea and surrounded by snowy mountains.

However, Romain Attanasio did take many holidays on the water as a youngster and found an early love for the sea during that time. Having become increasingly interested in offshore racing during his school years – as well as actively racing dinghies during this time – he picked up a Mini 6.50 and took on the Mini Transat on a shoestring budget in 1999.

His boat was rolled during that event and Attanasio was rescued by a ship but the experience did little to dent his passion for ocean racing.

Shortly after, he was accepted into the Pôle Finistère Course au Large based out of Port-la-Forêt. This is widely accepted as a training ground for the best offshore racing talent in France (and, therefore, the world).

He saw decent results in the Figaro Beneteau 2 in which La Solitaire du Figaro and Transat AG2R are both contested. It was also during this time that he met fellow ocean racer and Vendée Globe skipper, Sam Davies, with whom he had a son.

Romain Attanasio has two Vendée Globes under his belt, completing the solo non stop race around the world in the 2016-17 edition and the most recent 2020-21 race in a 2001 boat and a 2009 boat respectively.

Ex-Malizia II, Attanasio’s IMOCA 60 is a decent performer. Photo: Yann Riou / polaRYSE

IMOCA 60 Fortinet-Best Western

Sail number: FRA 10
Designer: VPLP/ Verdier
Builder: Chantier Multiplast, Vannes
Year: 2015
Length: 18.28
Beam: 5.70
Draught: 4.50
Foils: Yes

Attanasio, alongside sponsors Fortinet-Best Western, has purchased a first generation foiler for the 2024-25 Vendée Globe.

The boat was initially launched as Gitana 16 – Edmond de Rotschild for skipper Seb Josse ahead of the 2016-17 Vendée Globe, though Josse was forced to retire after suffering significant foil damage.

It was then picked up and raced by Boris Herrmann under the Malizia II name. Herrmann did a great deal of work optimising the boat and, though it is not spectacularly quick, in his hands is became a solid boat, capable of being sailed quickly for long periods of time in a range of conditions.

The boat will represent a solid step up to competitive order for Romain Attanasio even if it is likely to be significantly slower than the very latest foiling IMOCA 60s. A solid boat and a sailor who knows singlehanded sailing intimately should be well placed come the finish of the Route du Rhum.

Follow the 2022 Route du Rhum