This gruelling race - that will last more than 80 days - presents a challenge for each of the 30 seasoned sailors in the competition. The sea is rough today, with a swell of 2-3 meters. It will be a difficult first night for the field.
Of the 30 competitors, 17 are French and 7 are British. Two are women, who received loud cheers from the large crowds that gathered dockside this morning. We will be following Canada's Derek Hatfield, who is sailing the Algimouss Spirit of Canada entry.
The boats in the race are all Open 60s, which are said to be the fastest boats in sailing. They are built of carbon fibre and are designed to be as light as possible while also being strong enough to withstand heavy forces on the mast and the hull in rough seas.
The Open 60s also are designed from the beginning for a single-handed sailing. They are packed with electronic and communications equipment. Under special safety rules, they are designed to right themselves if they are knocked down or capsized.
During such a long solo trip at sea, muscular and mental fatigue, lack of sleep and stress will affect the performance of the skippers. Because the Atlantic is rough today, the sailors probably will not get much sleep this first night.
We wish all the competitors a safe journey.
1. The Vendée Globe site has all the latest race information, profiles of all the competitors, videos and other features. www.vendéeglobe.org.
2. The Spirit of Canada web site offers Flash videos of Derek Hatfield sailing the boat and updated information. www.spiritofcanada.net.
3. For some more background, see the Zanepost item from October 28th: "Getting ready for a round-the-world race."
4. Photo credit: Vendée Globe/Benoit Stichelbaut/Chemineés Poujoulat.-----------
>To send to a friend, click on the envelope icon.