The call of the ocean
After over three week's wait in Port Olona and, for a lot of participants, numerous years of preparation, the event has become a reality. The thirty solo sailors in the 6th edition of the Vendée Globe set off this Sunday 9th November at 1302 hours. Ahead of their bows is a solo circumnavigation of the globe, without stopovers and without assistance, involving some three months at sea and over 21,000 miles of sailing. The adventure can begin for the monohull equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild!

With precision timing for both their departure from the pontoons this morning and the race start, the thirty participants in the Vendée Globe 2008 – 2009 set off in unison. As planned, at 1302 hours, boosted by a moderate but strengthening SW'ly, the fleet of Imoca monohulls took to the seas.

Aboard Gitana Eighty, Loïck Peyron opted to benefit from the right hand side of the race zone in the wake of Sébastien Josse's 60 footer, the leader in the first ranking. However, in addition to the technical precision, such as the tack chosen by the sailors as well as their sail plan during the start procedure, the unique setting offered at the start of the afternoon off the Vendée coast certainly deserves a mention as the magic of the Vendée Globe was in play once again! Despite the rain taking hold for a while with grey skies and a motley sea, it was a fantastic spectacle. Escorted by their shore crews, the 60 footers carved out a path through the numerous spectator craft. After an hour long procession to get offshore it was time to bid a final farewell before being left alone to sail their race.  

Given the weather forecasts, the first night's racing looks set to involve some work, with increased vigilance on deck being a must. Indeed, setting out on the trailing edge of a rainy front, which swept across the Vendée coast this morning, the solo sailors are now heading towards another front, still located a good way off to the west. The wind is set to fill rapidly, peaking tomorrow morning with an average of 30 to 35 knots and gusts in excess of 40 knots. In other words, there will be little time for Loïck Peyron and Gitana Eighty to ease gently into the rhythm of the race. On casting off this morning, the skipper of the monohull in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group alluded to the fact that his main goal initially would be to get into the right wagon from the outset. This is a done deal tonight with Gitana Eighty occupying 4th place at the 1600 hour ranking. 

It should be noted that Dominique Wavre alerted the organisation shortly after 1500 hours that he would have to return to port following electrical issues. The Swiss skipper hoped to resolve the matter as quickly as possible so he could head back into the race again.

Ranking on 9th November – 1600 hours (French time)

1. BT (Sébastien Josse)
2. Safran (Marc Guillemot)
3. Paprec Virbac (Jean-Pierre Dick) 0.2 miles from the leader
4. Gitana Eighty (Loïck Peyron) 0.4 miles back
5. Brit Air (Armel Le Cléac'h) 0.4 miles back

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