Tough first night for solo sailors

It’s been a tough first night for the Vendée Globe’s thirty competitors. The fleet has faced headwinds of 20-30 knots and 4-6 metre seas, and two boats have already returned to port ? Dominque Wavre on Temenos returned soon after the start with electrical problems, but was able to fix them and rejoin the race shortly after 11pm, whilst Bernard Stamm has also been forced to turn back after a collision with a fishing boat damaged his bowsprit.

This morning’s position update shows Marc Guillemot (Safran) still the leader. Most of the fleet are heading directly west as fast as possible, except three ? leader Guillemot, and British contenders Mike Golding (Ecover) and Sam Davies (Roxy), who have each put in two tacks to stay on a more direct south-westerly course. Of the main north-westerly group, Loick Peyron (Gitana Eighty) is currently in second place, with Roland Jourdain and Kito de Pavant very close by. Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) is the most westerly. On the rankings Dee Caffari (Aviva) is still showing as first Brit in eleventh after a good start, while Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) one place behind.

Bernard Stamm describes the collision which has forced him to return to port: “There were a whole group of us racing upwind. There was a fishing boat in the area that I saw some way off and didn’t seem to be a problem. I went down to do some nav work and a few minutes later? boom! I reckon he must have changed direction. By the time it took me to go inside, I’d hit him. I couldn’t raise him on the radio. I don’t know whether he saw me. It was more or less a direct hit, a little bit to one side. A huge collision. We’ll be trying to repair it. I decided immediately to head back, as I can’t hoist any headsails. For a downwind race, that isn’t much good! It appears that only the bowsprit is broken. I’ll be setting off again. There’s no reason not to. The others won’t be waiting for me, but it’s around the world race, so isn’t over yet.”

The highlighted ‘trails’ show the British competitors on the map above. You can follow the race on a tracker on the Gitana site or the official one here 

Below: The damage to Bernard Stamm’s bowsprit (Image Thierry Martinez)