Saturday, 10 November 2012

Vendee Globe Race 2012 - 2013

Today the Vendee Globe fleet began their race around the world.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvKhslDFOyk .On past form the leaders will be back within 80 to 100 days. A marathon voyage, taken at a sprinting pace.
The start coverage triggers memories of Stargazer's leisurely summer in Biscay, when I glimpse Les Sables d'Olonne's familiar breakwater.....
......and see the Open 60's plunge and rear over the same swell that we rode.
I picture the race banners. In July they were already hung from every lamp post, in the streets above the canal. I imagine those same streets thronged, now, with well wishers; cheering the racers as they leave.
Today the boats crossing the start line, on my PC screen, bring sparks of recognition. It's as if I'm picking out familiar faces in a crowd:
Bernard Stamm's bright yellow Cheminees Poujoulat is up towards front of the fleet, in third place. Stargazer sailed into Brest with him rapidly overhauling us. I watched for a gale bound week as he put the boat through her paces daily, flying up and down the Rade.
In seventh is Arnaud Boissieres aboard the sinister black Akena Verandes. I watched her being rigged and fitted out alongside the pontoons in Les Sables d'Olonne. Crowds of screwdriver weilding technicians, ant like on her decks.
Javier Sanso, lying tenth, aboard Acciona was in Brest too. The bright red hull, lined with solar panels along the gunwale and filled with alternative energy ideas, is instantly recognisable.
In June Dominique Wavre was in La Rochelle, when we passed through. The smart, angular blue and white hulled, Mirabaud was freshly launched, and in final commissioning. Today she's back in fifteenth. They got caught up in some start line over- exuberance, that saw almost a quarter of the fleet cross early, and had to go back to restart.
"The Everest of Sailing" is how the race start commentators describe the Vendee Globe. Its an achievement to complete the course, a triumph to win. Follow the race on http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/

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