Just reading Clarisse Crémer's Instagram post shows how disappointed the sailor is: "I gave birth to a little girl in November 2022. Although I wasn't obliged to, I already had my sponsor, Banque Populaire, in the February 2021 about my plans to have children. They still chose me for this new Vendée Globe and informed me about our cooperation in autumn 2021", writes the French professional sailor. "Last Friday I found out that Banque Populaire had finally decided to replace me. Because of their decision and despite my constant will, I will not be taking part in the Vendée Globe 2024."
The Vendée Globe is probably the most demanding sailing regatta in the world: a person sails non-stop around the world alone on board a racing yacht that is no more than 18.28 meters long. The next race will start in November 2024 and is scheduled to end in March 2025. At the last regatta, the Hamburg sailor Boris Herrmann took fifth place after a collision shortly before the finish line. He is also currently preparing for the upcoming edition of the Vendée Globe. However, he will not have to compete against Clarisse Crémer.
Crémer's ex-sponsor Banque Populaire justified the replacement of the skipper in a statement: According to this, the organizers have changed the regulations of the "Vendée Globe". Now not everyone who finished the last regatta is qualified for the new edition. Instead, points must be collected in preparatory regattas between winter 2021 and summer 2024 in order to get one of the 40 starting places. Banque Populaire has rented a boat for these regattas until the new racing yacht is ready in December 2023. "Because Clarisse was not able to take part in these races for fortunate maternity reasons, she finds herself today in a situation where she cannot hope to reach the required number of points to qualify for the Vendée Globe 2024," writes the Bank in their press release. Because of this risk, the organizers of the "Vendée Globe" had already been asked in the summer for a special permit for crémer, but unfortunately this was not received. "In order to guarantee the future of the project at the next Vendée Globe despite everything, and given the human (creating a team) and financial (buying a boat) investment, the Banque Populaire team unfortunately has to reconcile itself to developing its project and Banque Populaire XII to someone new, whose name will be announced in the next few days," the sponsor said.
The management of the "Vendée Globe" has also reacted. In a press release, she explains that she published the new rules early enough. Because of equal opportunities, no exception can be granted. The possibility of granting Crémer a wild card was discussed with the skipper and her previous sponsor. "However, this cannot be awarded before the end of the qualifying regattas because the Vendée Globe does not know beforehand which skippers might be entitled to it." The organizers emphasize in their press release that no one is yet certain that they will take part in the forthcoming circumnavigation.
Crémer is shocked, as she explains on Instagram. Other projects would continue. "I still had two full seasons and four transatlantic trips ahead of me to get back to the same level and I was in the process of completing my rehabilitation as quickly as possible," she writes and does not shy away from criticizing her ex-sponsor: "They are willing to take the risk of a giant trimaran and all the natural, technical and human vagaries associated with ocean racing, but obviously not the risk of motherhood."
The regatta organization also gets its fat from Crémer: "The organization of the Vendée Globe is content with the fact that they're 'sorry for me', but 'can't do anything'. It's them who set the rules writes. Four years ago I would have automatically qualified for finishing the previous edition." Who in the 21st century would be fooled into believing that such rules are fair? she asks. "It's easy to lament the small number of women on the starting lines afterwards."
At the same time, the skipper is combative - not only in relation to sailing: "I am determined to sail again, under the colors of a trustworthy partner whose human convictions I share. My passion for sailing is unbroken and I will I can quickly overcome the disillusionment I'm experiencing today."
But she also thinks outside the box: "I think above all of all the women, athletes and others who are going through similar difficulties without having the opportunity to speak up. What does equality mean for women? Each other in every respect to behave like men and, above all, not to be pregnant?" She concludes her statement with the sentence: "If I speak up today, it is not out of revenge, to attract attention or to be pitied, but to stimulate thought and in the hope that our society will make progress."
In any case, she gave an impetus for this beyond the sailing scene.
Sources: Clarisse Crémer on Instagram, Banque Populaire press release (French), Vendée Globe press release on Twitter.