Except Arnaud Boissière (AKENA Vérandas) and Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) already moored in the Sables d’Olonne, and Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel), freshly arrived, the 17 other skippers engaged in this Vendée Globe 7th edition will all have to go back at sea one more time this week before the big tour. Whether it is from Lorient, England, Port-la-Forêt or the Mediterranean coast, the journey is sometimes long and tricky.
First one to touch the Sable d’Olonne land last Saturday, Kito de Pavant has just completed his 1,700 miles trip without mishap, worthy of a great offshore race. Leaving from Port-Camargue, the red and white monohull went through the Balearic Islands, then the dreadful Strait of Gibraltar, before sailing up along the Iberian Peninsula and the terrific Bay of Biscay. First reaction of Kito: “It’s done, Groupe Bel is moored to the dock in the departure direction! For us, it has started by a tour of Spain with this delivery. An exercise that is specific to us because Groupe Bel is the only competitor to come from that far away. We sailed with great weather conditions before finishing with a nice South-West 25-knot wind in the Bay of Biscay. There is a little stress in a trip like that because sailing is always dangerous but it was also a chance for us because we were able to test the equipment on a long navigation period. Every new equipment was used during nine days in a row, which is an excellent running in and everything works perfectly on Groupe Bel, who has never been that accomplished. I love my boat. I wouldn't change her for anything in the world. It’s important for such a world tour!”
Thomson hit a fishing boat… 2 miles away from the Sables
There are many miles and dangers that mark out this long journey and which can sometimes cause big damages. One of the relevant examples during the last edition in 2008 is Alex Thomson onboard Hugo Boss, hitting a fishing boat only 2 miles away from the Sables. A race against time was then launched to repair the boat. The technical team and the Sables inhabitants’ mobilisation allowed the British skipper to start again but unfortunately, bad weather conditions and certainly a weakened hull got the better of the British.
Another misfortune was Bernard Stamm's. During a delivery, the French skipper discovered a leak which turned into a hole near the engine. The issue was quickly sealed off but it could have been a lot worse. Let's just hope that the IMOCA migration this week will go without any problem, with weather forecasts that do not look like they will spare the skippers.
TCa with RD