Seasonal introduction
Setting out from Les Sables d'Olonne yesterday, Sunday 9th November at 1302 hours, the thirty solo sailors in the Vendée Globe 2008-2009 have been experiencing some harsh sea conditions initially, with raging seas and strong winds setting the tone. The current climate appears to be fairly classical for the season, but it is still tricky for the sailors as they get into the race rhythm. At this afternoon's ranking, Loïck Peyron and the monohull in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group are in 2nd position in a compact fleet led by Marc Guillemot.

After the agitation of the start and the final emotional moments off the Vendée coast, the sailors have only had a very short time to get their sea-legs and find their marks. Scooped up by some seasonal weather conditions, the fleet of Imoca monohulls is now in the thick of the action, as Loïck Peyron confirmed during the first telephone session with the Race HQ in Paris: “It's really slamming! We have between 30 and 35 knots so it's not the most pleasant of situations…” Currently sailing upwind (against the wind) in the Bay of Biscay the monohull, equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, is having to hunker down as it awaits the passage of the cold front scheduled late this afternoon: “since we left the wind has gradually filled and the sea state is not very amusing… and it's not over yet. The next few hours will be the worst. We mustn't force it as it's only the beginning” commented the skipper of Gitana Eighty before going on to say: “but the good news is that soon after the front passes through it will be considerably better” Indeed as soon as the front is crossed, the wind will shift round to the north-west, thus enabling the solo sailors to open their sails a little and make headway on a comfortable tack towards Cape Finisterre, at the north-west tip of Spain.

Three returns to port

Well before casting off, Loïck Peyron shared some of his wealth of sailing experience with us: “starting the race at the start of November can always lead to a complicated crossing of the Bay of Biscay and rounding of Cape Finisterre. A lot can happen in the first days at sea.” Today the turn of events in the race so far has proven him right as just a few hours into the race, three competitors have been forced to turn back and make for Les Sables d'Olonne to repair damage. The first, Dominique Wavre, victim of electrical issues two hours after the start, has since headed back out to sea in pursuit of the fleet of Imoca monohulls. Bernard Stamm was stopped in his tracks yesterday evening following a collision with a fishing vessel, which has caused him to break his bowsprit (the forward point of the boat' which enables you to set the large foresails), and be forced to return to Port Olona last night. His team is working flat out so that the Swiss sailor can get back into the race as soon as possible. Finally, Michel Desjoyeaux, one of the favourites in this 6th edition, has also had to turn back following a leak in his ballast tanks which has led to electrical problems aboard his vessel. He is still at sea but his team is expecting him in Les Sables d'Olonne so they can find a solution and enable him to set off as quickly as possible.
The Vendée Globe is a solo round the world race, without stopovers and without assistance but it should be pointed out that the race rule permits all the competitors to return to Les Sables d'Olonne if need be, for up to ten days after the start, which in this case is 19th November exactly, in order to make repairs and head back into the race. After this date, the solo sailors can head back out to sea but they will be deemed out of the race.

Ranking on 10th November – 1600 hours (French time)
1. Safran (Marc Guillemot)
2. Gitana Eighty (Loïck Peyron) 10.1 miles from 1st 
3. Véolia Environnement (Roland Jourdain) 12.1 miles back
4. Groupe Bel (Kito de Pavant) 14.2 miles back
5. BT (Sébastien Josse) 15.2 miles back

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