The final days on land
In four days those skippers participating in the Vendée Globe 2008-2009 will one by one adopt the channel out of Les Sables d'Olonne. This will form part of a ceremony much anticipated by the public, who are still out in force along the pontoons, as well as the solo sailors who take to the sea. Back in the Vendée town since Monday, Loïck Peyron has rapidly got into the swing of things again with a series of organisation briefings, sailing and media engagements. On Sunday at 1302 hours the first of a long line of Gitanas will take the start of the reference solo round the world event: the hour draws ever closer!

With 4 days to go, headlines conjuring up images of ‘the pressure mounting on the pontoons of Port Olona' abound. However, despite his status as race favourite conferring a busy schedule on him in these final days on land, the skipper of Gitana Eighty hasn't lost his customary calm. The days still separating him from the start of his 3rd Vendée Globe roll briskly by; a pace which perfectly conforms with Loïck Peyron's personality. Despite everything – and experience does the talking – the time is skilfully divided up so that the slots for relaxation and work sessions with his team can harmoniously blend. As such, from tomorrow onwards, the meetings with Sylvain Mondon (Météo France) will intensify so as to prepare for the weather conditions at the start as well as the first days at sea: “we're beginning to look at the weather in more detail now but between now and Monday there may still be a lot of developments. For the time being, the trend is for an upwind start in SW'ly winds of between 20 and 25 knots. Then the wind should freshen in the evening to reach an average of 30-35 knots. This unsettled air flow will be accompanied by big seas; perhaps 2 to 3 metres as we cross the line. It'll be a selective introduction!” forecasts the Gitana Team's weather adviser (it is worth pointing out that the Vendée Globe is a race where weather assistance is forbidden. However the solo sailors may take on the expertise of specialists prior to the start).

Yesterday the skipper of Gitana Eighty and his team benefited from the still mild weather conditions to escape for a few hours offshore of Les Sables d'Olonne; an ultimate sail trial which will have provided Loïck with an opportunity to run through the basics one last time: “I consider that it's important to maintain the contact with the boat, especially a few days from the start. Furthermore I wanted to share a final sail with the members of Gitana Team who have taken care of Gitana Eighty and prepared her so well over the past months.”

Unbeaten for ten months on the Imoca circuit, the Loïck Peyron – Gitana Eighty duo is in better shape than ever. The shore crew, directed by William Fabulet, has left nothing to chance in providing its skipper with a more reliable and high performance steed. For his part, the sailor cannot conceal his desire for the allotted hour to come: “We're already in our race – or at the very least we're gradually entering into it – and yet we're still right in the thick of our life on land… it's ambiguous and not very comfortable! The desire to cast off is much in evidence!” concluded Loïck.

ICM around the world with Gitana Eighty

The Gitana Team and Loïck Peyron have opted to join forces with what is already a considerable amount of support from the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (Brain and Spinal Cord Institute). As such, with the institute's colours adorning the foot of the mast, the ICM will set off on the Vendée Globe 2008-2009 adventure with the monohull equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild.

ICM, presentation

Alzheimer, Parkinson, Multiple Sclerosis, depression, CVA, paraplegia… neurological and psychiatric illnesses affect 1 in 8 people. The Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière - ICM is an international research centre which will bring together 600 researchers from 2010, at the heart of the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, where 100,000 patients in the neurology department are examined each year. The world's top researchers come to work in the 22,000 m2 of laboratories. This proximity of the sick/doctors/researchers represents inestimable hope and richness, enabling more effective treatment to be developed more quickly, to the great benefit of the sick. We are very lucky to witness the creation of this Institute in Paris.

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