Tough Start for Vendee Globe

Just a few days after it started off the coast of France, the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race is already living up to its reputation as the ultimate test of sailors and equipment.

Battered by huge seas and strong winds in the Bay of Biscay, nine of the 30 starters have either retired or been forced back to the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne for repairs.

The race started in a near-gale that was supposed to moderate, but instead the weather quickly deteriorated.

Two boats have been dismasted, but several of the others – including Canadian entrant Derek Hatfield’s Spirit of Canada, suffering from unspecified electrical problems – are expected to re-start the 24,000-mile race.

American Rich Wilson, sailing the Open 60 Great American III, was coping well with the conditions and had settled into 21st place. He said he had not slept for more than 24 hours and was grateful that the worst of the weather had passed.

As of Tuesday night (GMT), the race leader was Roland Jourdain, closely followed by Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron.

Don’t miss the great feature on the Vendee Globe, the world’s toughest sailboat race, in the November issue of SAIL.

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