At 14:00 the starting gun was fired at by the Transat Jacques Vabre race committee, sending the 47 monohulls, led by Ecover, reeling into the English Channel.
Some of the boats were early on the line (see list of individual recalls below) but all them re-crossed and are now well into the race.
At 16:00, only two hours after setting sail, the ranking has changed. Groupe Bel
(DE PAVANT/COL) have taken the lead in front of Gitana Eighty
(PEYRON/LEVAILLANT) and Safran
(DESJOYEAUX/LE BORGNE) is third just in front of Ecover 2
(GOLDING/DUBOIS). The first seven IMOCA boats (including Generali
and Cheminées Poujoulat
) are within 2 miles of each other. Pakea Bizkaia 2009
(BASURKO/GANDARIAS) close the IMOCA fleet 7 miles away from the leader.
(SOLDINI/D'ALI) has ledIn the Class 40 fleet since the start, closely followed by Clarke Offshore Racing
(CLARKE/LINDSAY), Vecteur Plus - Groupe Moniteur
(JOUDREN/PICHELIN) and Atao Audio System
(VITTET/CHABAGNY). The two youngest skippers in the fleet on Concise (a)
showed a strong start, ranking in seventh position, Novedia - Set Environnement
(DE LAMOTTE/BUBB) in ninth less that 1 mile behind the leader.
The northeasterly wind of 10-15 knots, forecasted to strengthen in the evening, appears ideal for the newest boats as they have not yet been fully tested. It is well-known by the teams that the usual North Atlantic low pressure associated with rough conditions could have benefited boats with more miles under the hull.
Nevertheless, the skippers will spend the night on deck making their way through the busy Channel in low - or even no - visibility.
Tactics on the stretch from Le Havre to Cape Finistere, Spain, (the current weather conditions should enable them to reach Cape Finistere around Sunday night), are seen as crucial by the competitors. They aim to stick with the pack. Losing too much ground against their rivals at this stage would mean the unlikely possibility of catching up (unless weather intercedes) for the rest of the race. The picture on the boats for the next few days is likely to be skippers up on deck for manoeuvres. The sleeping shifts will be organized later on, enabling each to rest in short slots of 1 to 2 hours.
Before setting sail, the skippers scrutinized the weather information for the next few days, and it will certainly be on their minds all along the route from Salvador de Bahia. On their descent to Spain, the skippers will also prepare their route between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands, where a massive low-pressure system awaits them.
DE PAVANT, sailing with COL on Groupe Bel
, said before the start: "We feel that the boat has "horse power under the bonnet". She will move fast, we know that, even if these machines are very complex and delivered without a user guide. We are going to learn a lot, about ourselves and about our competitors, who we will meet again in a year for the Vendée Globe. We are racers and if the weather is with us, we won't hesitate."
Transat Jacques Vabre - www.jacques-vabre.com