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 Yannick Bestaven's chances

Yannick Bestaven was declared the 2020/21 Vendée Globe winner, having finishing 3rd on the water but earned the win thanks to a time compensation of 10 hours and 15 minutes which he was awarded for his role in the search and rescue of fellow competitor Kevin Escoffier.

For Bestaven this was his second tilt at the Vendée Globe, having dismasted in the 2008/09 edition. Since 2008, Bestaven has taken two victories in the Transat Jacques Vabre in Class 40, and 4th place in the Route du Rhum in 2014. Having secured sponsorship from Maître CoQ, Yannick managed to purchase the first foiler designed by architects Verdier-VPLP for the Vendée Globe 2016, formerly Morgan Lagravière’s Safran.

Yannick Bestaven has always been known for his autonomy. In 2001, he won the Mini Transat on a boat that he’d built himself, with the help of Arnaud Boissières who finished 3rd.

Having gained an engineering degree from École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, he also the founder of the hydro generator company Watt & Sea, a must-have power generation source for the IMOCA fleet as well as many other racers and cruisers.

For the 2020 edition of the Vendée Globe, he was his own project manager, responsible for the project from start to finish.

This all-round knowledge of a well-sorted (if not absolute latest generation) boat contributed to a Vendée Globe race which gradually moved from impressive to standout. Bestaven led the fleet back into the Atlantic having moved up into 1st place just south of Australia and was still fighting hard within the leading pack of four boats until the very end.

The 2022 Route du Rhum will see Bestaven competing in a solo transoceanic race for the first time in a brand new IMOCA 60, which was commissioned with his sponsor Maître CoQ shortly after his victory in the 2020-21 Vendee Globe.

Yannick Bestaven’s Maitre CoQ V was launched on 2022. Photo: Breschi /Maitre Coq

IMOCA 60 Maître CoQ V

Sail number: FRA 17
Designer: Guillaume Verdier
Builder: CDK Technologies
Year: 2022
LWL: 18.28 m
Beam: Not published
Draught: 4.5 m
Weight: Not published
Foils: Yes, latest generation

The 2022 Route du Rhum is the first big race Yannick Bestaven will take part in onboard his brand new IMOCA 60. There are likely to be some teething problems with the boat – as is always the case with such high-tech offshore racers.

However, Verdier and CDK are a well established designer and builder combination, so there should not be any significant surprises. And a sailor like Bestaven, who is so used to being self-sufficent is unlikely to have any significant issue working though the inevitable gremlins. The key thing for Bestaven, along with all skippers bringing a new boat up to speed, will be to avoid pushing so hard they incur any significant damage at this critical point of the campaign.

Certainly with a Vendée Globe win under his belt, years of solo offshore experience, and now a brand new IMOCA 60 in his hands, Bestaven must surely feature in anyone’s pick of podium potentials for both the Route du Rhum and Vendée Globe in 2024-25.

Follow the 2022 Route du Rhum