Vendee Globe solo global yacht race plans November embarcation

Vedee Globe champion Armel Le Cleac'h poses during the launch of his new boat

One of yachting's most avidly followed events, the punishing Vendee Globe solo round the world race, plans to proceed with its November 8 embarcation date, organisers said on Tuesday.

Staged every four years, the sailors themselves are alone on their yachts but around 500,000 people showed up on the Western France coast in 2016 to see off the sailors at the vast Sables d'Olonne beach, where thousands of small craft buzzed around the competitors at the virtual start line out in the Atlantic.

"We plan to embark on November 8 and are doing everything to make sure that happens, there's no reason why it won't happen," race organisers said Tuesday.

Last week the organisers said they would push ahead with plans to stage special public events at Sables d'Olonne.

"I cannot imagine a Vendee Globe without a 'Village de Depart' and in front of the fans," organiser Yves Auvinet told France 3 television.

Some 35 potential competitors are hoping to set sail this year.

Current champion Armel Le Cleach will defend his title while the man he narrowly beat, Welshman Alex Thomson, whose brash no-holds-barred style has made him an icon in the yachting world, is also set to take part.

Le Cleach finished the 2016-17 edition solo on his Banque Populaire catamaran in a record time of 74 days, three hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds, but they have nevertheless built him a new craft for the 2020 edition.