Fine start for Gitana Eighty
At 14:00 hours (French time) today, Saturday 3 November, the monohull Gitana Eighty owned by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and skippered by Loïck Peyron and Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant set off in the 8th Transat Jacques Vabre. Ahead of them lay a long sprint of about 3,500 miles in the direction of Bahia in Brazil, where they should arrive at All Saints' Bay on around 16 November.

The start was sounded at 14:00 hours amid a 10-knot north-easterly wind. The boats departed on the starboard tack, Gitana Eighty sailing with mainsail and genoa up. Ecover, the monohull skippered by the Englishman Mike Golding was positioned most windward at the line and so got off to the best start close-hauled and to leeward, followed closely by Gitana Eighty and Groupe Bel, also to leeward. At the 16:00 hours classification, Kito de Pavant's red monohull had taken over the head of the fleet, while Loïck Peyron and Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant were occupying second spot ahead of Generali, Safran, Ecover and Foncia.

On leaving the pontoon at Le Havre, Gitana Eight skipper Loïck Peyron had remarked : “Here we go, it's time for action. In fact, this is actually the trickiest time to negotiate. We're already 100% immersed in what's going to happen but we've now got to deal with the present moment, i.e. the start! The last few hours before a big race are always a bit complicated. Happily, there's plenty of non-stop and very touching attention from the outside world but we're already cut off from all that. It's a really bizarre feeling! But even after all these years and so many transats, the buzz is still there. Last night, I kept making these little jumps in my sleep, whereas I normally sleep like a log. I'm already in race mode! The weather to come is fairly complex. We're setting off in the calm and between now and midnight, we're likely to have to make some important decisions to make. All things considered, the conditions are extremely diverse and we're going to be kept on our toes. This situation will also allow us to compare ourselves with the others, under the most variable conditions possible. For the moment though, it's the type of race where the positions can change every couple of hours! During this first phase, we're going to have to deal with cargo ships, foghorns, strong currents, and high speeds too, and we are setting out spinnaker up for this first night!

The comments of Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of Gitana 11, which sets off tomorrow at 13:02:
You could tell the experienced pairing of Loïck and Jean-Baptiste was delighted to get going. Those two have known each other for ages and were really chuffed to be embarking on this adventure together. As for the boat, it appears to be going well and maintaining a good pace… Where tomorrow's start is concerned, we're expecting a 15-knot north wind, a bit more sustained and stern than today. So it should be a pacy start…”

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