Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stunning Start For Vende Globe Fleet

Nineteen of the 20 skippers competing in the seventh edition of the Vendée Globe solo around the world race hit the start line of the 24,048 miles, three months circumnavigation race at 1302hrs local time off Les Sables d’Olonne on Saturday.
Photo: Jean Marie Llot / DPPI / Vendee Globe 
After a minor collision with his support team’s rigid inflatable boat, Bertrand de Broc was forced to return to port before the start to make the necessary repairs to a small puncture in the hull of his IMOCA Open 60 Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM Projets.
Photo: Jean Marie Llot / DPPI / Vendee Globe 
Starting in 12-14 knots of westerly wind under grey skies with rain threatening there was no quarter given on the start line. With the prospect of a direct, straight line 300 miles course to Finisterre and no real tactical options every early metre gained might be critical.
Photo: Jean Marie Llot / DPPI / Vendee Globe 
Poland’s Zbigniew Gutkowski on Energa and four French favourites including PRB (Vincent Riou), Macif (François Gabart) Groupe Bel (Kito de Pavant) and Armel le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) all jumped the start gun early and had to turn back and recross the line.
Photo: Jean Marie Llot / DPPI / Vendee Globe 
Marc Guillemot on Safran opened up the course to forge ahead early in the close reaching conditions. Spain’s Javier ‘Bubi’ Sanso on Acciona 100% Eco Powered, and the youngest skipper in the race 27 year old Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée and Tanguy de Lamotte on Initatives Couer all had their moments of early glory.  They formed the vanguard of the fleet as they headed out for the open sea among the huge spectator fleet.
Photo: Jean Marie Llot / DPPI / Vendee Globe 
Cheminées Poujoulat, the new Juan Kouyoumdjian design of Bernard Stamm steadily climbed through to the front of the fleet to be alongside Safran around one hour after the start gun. British skippers Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and Mike Golding on Gamesa both made safe, solid openings.
Photo: Jean Marie Llot / DPPI / Vendee Globe 
Emotions were hight around the Port Olona pontoons even for the hardened skippers.Leaving his four months old baby son, also named Javier, was visibly difficult for Spanish skipper Javier ‘Bubi’ Sanso. Samantha Davies was pleased to finally find sanctuary from the intensity of the media and public interest when she boarded Saveol. British skipper Alex Thomson kept his sunglasses on throughout the dock out.
Photo: Olivier Blanchet / DPPI /Vendee Globe
There was massive euphoria of the legendary passage down the channel where hundreds of thousands lined the walls to bid adieu to the skippers. Among the heartfelt messages painted on bedsheets held up by the crowd were: ‘You Make Us Dream’ and ‘Whose turn this time?’
Photo: Olivier Blanchet / DPPI /Vendee Globe
Compared with previous races the Vendée Globe skippers this time are looking at a relatively straightforward first 24-36 hours. A fast course to Finisterre will test reaching speed but with the prospect of some brisk downwind sailing along the Portuguese coast with many manoeuvres, quite a lot of sail changes and intense trimming, skippers will have to carefully manage their own sleep and energy regime as they settle into race mode. By Wednesday there is the prospect of a low pressure system bringing some upwind conditions.

A fast passage to the equator appears to be possible, an essential component of any challenge to break the race course record of 84 days 03 hours 09 minutes set in 2009 by Michel Desjoyeaux.

Vendee Globe Media

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