Michel Desjoyeaux, 35 PRB (France)
With Whitbread, multihull, and solo-sailing experience, Desjoyeaux is one of the most versatile racers in the fleet, and he has a well-prepared, innovative, recently launched steeddefinitely a player.
Yves Parlier, 40 Aquitaine Innovations (France)
One of 10 Vendée Globe veterans in the fleet, Parlier is considered one of the top interpreters of meteorology and a competent mariner. His 96-vintage boat may be slightly off the pace.
Catherine Chabaud, 38 Whirlpool (France)
A former Whitbread journalist and the first woman to finish a nonstop race around the world (1996-97 Vendee), she has the experience and the boat to remain among the top contenders.
Dominic Waivre, 45 Union Bancaire Privee (Switzerland)
A four-time Whitbread veteran, this sailor has a new boat that hes spent the past 10 months learning. Hell be tough if it becomes a close race in the final days.
Ellen MacArthur, 24 Kingfisher (Great Britain)
This cherubic dynamo continues to impress competitors and pundits alike aboard a well-engineered vessel thats admittedly less extreme than its brethrena definite contender.
Josh Hall, 41 EPB esprit PME/Gartmore (Great Britain)
With volumes of experience from three solo round-the-world races (though hes only finished one), Hall has more time aboard his boat than any other competitor.
Mike Golding, 40 Groupe 4 (Great Britain)
Tenacious and well-prepared, Golding has sailed around the world alone 1.5 times. A powerful, 98-vintage steed and substantial experience should keep him among the frontrunners.
Thomas Coville, 32 Sodebo savourons la vie (France)
A former Americas Cupper with multihull experience (including a 71-day dash around the globe), Coville has a 98-vintage Finot-Conq design with a radical, rotating wing mast, look for good performance here.
Roland Jourdain, 36 Sill Entreprises (France)
A two-time Whitbread veteran who has honed his offshore skills aboard grand-prix multihulls, Jourdain has strong skills and one of the most powerful boats in the fleet.
Marc Thiercelen, 40 Active Wear (France)
Second-place in the last edition of this race and second in the attrition-ridden Around Alone (98-99), Thiercelen is hungry for redemption. Hell be strong due to consistency.
Simon Bianchetti, 32 Aquarelle.com (Italy)
Bianchetti faces a liability with limited time aboard Open 60s, but his 1988 boat, with four previous circumnavigations, is certainly proven.
Rafael Dinelli, 31 Sogal extenso (France)
The survivor of a dramatic rescue in the last Vendée, Dinelli is back with a boat that will be fast downwind, but may suffer on performance in the Atlantic stretches.
Thierry Dubois, 33 Solidaires (France)
Another capsize survivor of the 96-97 Vendée, Dubois has distinguished himself in the mini-Transat arena; his blue-and-white-striped vessel has the jets to make him a dark horse.
Eric Dumont, 39 Euroka (France)
Fourth place in the last Vendée Globe, Dumont now has the boat that won the 92-93 race, a powerful reaching machine. His 30 transatlantic crossings stand him in good stead.
Bernard Gallay, 40 Voila.fr (France-Switzerland)
A veteran of two previous Vendée Globes, Gallay has extensive racing experience and the boat that won this race four years ago, which should still be competitive.
Feydor Kouniokhov, 47 Modern University for Humanities (Russia)
This will be the fourth circumnavigation for this professional adventurer who has the oldest boat in the fleet and the liability of a shoe-string budget.
Didier Muduteguy, 47 DDP 60eme Sud (France)
Dismasted early in the last Vendée, Mudutenguy has unfinished business here, but his vessel is heavy, narrow, and out of date. Look for a mid-fleet finish here.
Joe Seteen, 43 Nord Pas de Calais/Chocolat du Monde (France)
More distinguished as a short-course racer, Seteen has a proven boatthe narrow yawl sailed by Jean Luc Van Den Heede, which has been around the planet 3.5 times.
Bernard Stamm, 37 Superbigou/Amor Lux (Switzerland)
Stamm has won his share of races, but principally on smaller craft. His new, novel vessel that sports more sail area than all the rest might compensate for his lack of southern ocean experience.
Richard Tolkein, 36 This Time (Great Britain)
A would-be entrant since 1992, Tolkein says hes ready this time with the former Fujicolor III, which he has repowered with a larger main mast.
Javier Sanso, 31 Old Spice (Spain)
Sanso has a strong around-the-buoys background and time in the southern ocean, but his older craft will make him more an adventurer than a racer in this event.
Three competitors will participate in 50-foot boats:
Pasquale de Gregorio, 58 Wind (Italy)
Relatively new to solo sailing, de Gregorio is a professional delivery skipper who now has a brand new Open 50 and a desire as large as his boat.
Patrick de Radigues, 44 Lightning (Belgium)
This unofficial entrant in the last Vendée used that experience to prepare for the current race aboard his recently launched Open 50, which should be very competitive.
Patrice Carpentier, 49 VM Materiaux (France)
A journalist and an offshore racer, Carpentier competed in the inaugural Vendée Globe in 1989. Now he is intent on spending his 50th birthday at 50 degrees south latitude.
For more information log on to the events website at www.vendeeglobe.com.