6th November 2016 – 29 intrepid sailors set off!
The photo above is of the sole English entry into this years race, HUGO BOSS skippered by Alex Thompson.
Alan and I were lucky enough to be within reasonable reach of Les Sables d’Olonne from Port la Forêt and so we decided to take a break from Musetta’s winter lay up preparations to go and see these brave sailors set off!…..
The Vendee village had been in situ for three weeks and when we arrived the day before the start it was incredible to witness all the excitement as it the built up to the big day when these sailors set off for up to three months alone at sea, surviving on very little sleep, freeze dried rations not to mention the hostile southern ocean!!
The pontoon where the boats and their teams made final preparations
We then had to find somewhere to view all the boats as they made their way out to the start line. There were in the region of 300,000 and more people lining the harbour walls, and all surrounding areas who like us had made the trip to Les Sables d’Olonne to see the sailors off, it was VERY busy!!
The first boat we saw was HUGO BOSS with Alex Thompson coming into view as he set off for the start. The channel from the marina pontoon out to the bay is a long one and thronged with people on roofs, balconies, window sills, ladders, lamp posts and any other vantage points to cheer them on! The atmosphere was absolutely electic, and so thrilling to see it all.
When we finally found somewhere to view it all from we were entertained by some very welcoming French folk , who even let me climb their steps to take photos of the yachts as they left the marina to go to the start line.
Eight of the boats had been based in Port la Forêt as they made their preparations for the race and performed their sea trials, one of which was PRB pictured below and who is rumoured to be one of the favourites! So we had a special interest in these ones.
PRB, skippered by Vincent Riou
Here are a selection of photos taken as they motored past us…
FINISTÈRE mer vent – Jean LE CAM
And some more…
Truly awe inspiring and at the latest count Armel LE CLÉAC’H with BANQUE POPULAIRE VIII are in the lead after day three, early days yet and we ofcourse are rooting for Alex Thompson on his HUGO BOSS!!
We wish them all a great trip round the world and hope they all return safely to Les Sables d’Olonne in the New Year!