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The countdown to the start of the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre – the world’s longest and toughest two-handed transatlantic sailing race – officially started on Friday with all bar one of the 60 boats entered having moored safely in the Bassin Paul Vatine by the 2pm deadline. The 10-day of festivities and nerve-shredding last-minute preparations can begin.

A race which tests boat and crew to the limits has already had a foretaste of what might be to come when it starts on Sunday, October 27 at 13:15. Only the Class40 Banque Du Léman is missing from the pontoons in Le Havre after damaging a bulkhead. Race management have allowed them to divert to La Trinité-sur-Mer, where the boat was built. They should arrive in two days. But all the skippers experienced what autumn can deliver here with its famously stormy starts. Read on.

Title inspiration thanks to Black Flag.