That was Les Sables d’Olonne, France today when the Vendee Globe started. People had started arriving at dawn and, by the time the boats started to leave there were hundreds of thousands of people. The beach side balconies were packed to bursting, spectators had clambered onto every conceivable vantage point to get a glimpse of their heroes.
It was a rough weather start and the sailors are going to have a rough time in the early stages. That didn’t stop Mike being so eager to get going on his third Vendee Globe that he crossed the line 15 seconds early and had to go back and re-cross. For a perfectionist like Mike, it was a disappointing beginning, but within five minutes he was back on starboard tack and chasing down the rest of the fleet.
Dominique Wavre, incredibly, had to return to Port Olona with electrical problems. He said: "Already this morning, when I was leaving the pontoon, the electric system was a bit doubtful. Once out at sea, I realized that it wasn’t charging. The batteries were losing their power all the time. They’re down now to half of their capacity. None of the chargers are working, neither the solar panels, nor the wind turbine nor the alternator. It was a fairly easy decision to decide to turn back, as by the end of the night I wouldn’t have had any battery left, no energy at all." Only one person to blame for those problems, dontcha think?
As reported above, Bernard Stamm is on his way back too. We don’t yet know how it happened, but Stamm had a collision with a fishing boat when he was about 60 miles out. The damage is too much to repair at sea and Stamm is expected back around 0200 French time. This pic by Vincent Curutchet. Lots more here.