Sea plays the bogeyman

After 5 days of racing, only 16 skippers can pretend finishing their circumnavigation. Marc Guillemot (Safran), Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel), Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée) and Samantha Davies (Saveol) have been forced to quit prematurely.

Even if we know there will be other abandons, skippers with obvious charisma leave the race course too fast, too early. Sometimes offshore racing plays dirty tricks.

Pictures of Kito de Pavant in Cascais or Marc Guillemot in les Sables d’Olonne speak for themselves: same sad expression, same incomprehension facing this tragic fate, same desire to get out of this bad dream. Kito de Pavant looked absolutely distressed contemplating his red boat destroyed when she hit a fisherman’s ship without AIS. For Marc Guillemot and the Safran engineers, it’s still hard to believe the titan keel that made them so proud has disappeared. The cow is not laughing anymore and Marc’s jet wings have been cut.

A lot of emotion

And yet things had started well. Suspens, sports, emotions: all the ingredients were there to make this Vendée Globe start a beautiful feast. Skippers had lived this start in very different manners: François Gabard was completely livid when he left the pontoon, Jérémie Beyou was struggling to contain his emotions, Jean-Pierre Dick was in his “bubble” trying to save energy for the adventure. It is hard to resist the thousands of spectators gathered in town since down to encourage their favourite skippers and thank them to carry their dreams for 3 months.

There had been one incident with Bertrand de Broc: his boat had been hit by a spectator vessel making a hole in the hull. The skipper head back to port to leave again 12 hours later, thanks to the great work of his technical team.

These young rebels

In the lead, François Gabard, a daring rookie, left his emotions behind and put the pressure on everyone maintaining a crazy rhythm. It was a good choice since he was the first one to benefit from a low pressure who gave him an 80 miles lead for a while.

The next few hours should be crucial as they’ll allow the boats to position themselves for the doldrums. The competitors are now 5 days in the race, thinking about their strategy and trying to leave everything else behind. Now shorts, T-shirts and sunglasses are out and the solo skippers are getting into their new rhythm for the 3 months to come: sleep, trim, maneuver all in good proportions! Everybody will soak up the sun before entering “the shadow’s land” – the nickname first Vendée Globe Winner Titouan Lamazou gave to the Southern Oceans – in around 3 weeks.

The 20 solo sailors for the Vendée Globe 2012-2013

Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ)

Arnaud Boissières (Akena vérandas)

Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée)

Samantha Davies (Savéol)

Bertrand de Broc (Votre nom autour du monde avec EDM Projets)

Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives-cœur)

Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel)

Alessandro di Benedetto (Team Plastique)

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3)

François Gabart (Macif)

Mike Golding (Gamesa)

Marc Guillemot (Safran)

Zbigniew Gutkowski (Energa)

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel)

Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire)

Vincent Riou (PRB)

Javier Sanso (Acconia 100% EcoPowered)

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat)

Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss)

Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud)

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