The news went viral in no time and has since triggered a wave of indignation. Clarisse Crémer, the successful French skipper who was the first of six women to finish the Vendée Globe 2020, has been sacked by her sponsor Banque Populaire.
Clarisse Crémer crossing the finish line at the Banque Populaire X © Adrien Francois / Alea #VG2020
In November 2022, the circumnavigator gave birth to a baby girl. She had already told her sponsor about her decision to have a child a year earlier and made it public. “I had already informed my sponsor Banque Populaire about my wish to have a child in February 2021. They still chose me for this next Vendée Globe and communicated our mutual commitment in autumn 2021,” she wrote on Instagram.
Clarisse beim Training mit ihrer kleinen Tochter © privat
At the end of last week, Clarisse Crémer learned that the sponsor has decided to replace her. She will not be at the start of the Vendée Globe 2024 despite her best efforts. “I’m left high and dry!” the successful skipper writes indignantly.
Falling behind the competitors
The Vendée Globe rules for the 2024 edition require all skippers to sail qualifying races and accumulate miles. According to these criteria, the young mother fell behind the other competitors because motherhood prevented her from taking part in the qualifying races for a year. For Banque Populaire, this represents a risk that the sponsor ultimately does not want to take, Crémer writes.
Clarisse Crémer fights not only against wind and waves © Adrien Francois / Alea #VG2020
“I’m shocked because other projects that started recently are going on without a second thought. I still had two full seasons and four transatlantic races ahead of me to get back to the same level and I wanted to complete my rehabilitation as soon as possible,” says the dedicated offshore sailor. But apparently the sponsor was more willing to take the risk of a huge trimaran with all the technical and human imponderables than the risk of motherhood.
Who with a child may go sailing?
Today, ocean racing only exists because sponsors choose it as a means of communication to tell beautiful sporting stories about people, she says. “I have no understanding at all for the story that this sponsor is telling today: ‘The Vendée Globe at any price’.” Allowing a young mother to compete would therefore mean taking too great a risk.
Boris Herrmann with his wife and daughter after crossing the finish line in 2020 © Martin Keruzoré / Team Malizia
Boris Herrmann became a father shortly before he set off for that very Vendée Globe. He only saw his little daughter on the display for months. His wife Birthe had taken on the classic role of mother, enabling her husband to sail around the world and become famous.
Annie Lush’s four-year-old daughter was at the start of The Ocean Race in Alicante to see her mother off. Sam Davies had also left her son at home with the family to sail the 2020 Vendée Globe.