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Final preparations for Vendée Globe

France and Britain’s best sailors set off on Nov 9 on a single-handed race around the world.

FRANCE and Britain’s best sailors set off on November 9 on a single-handed race around the world. The Vendée Globe Challenge will set off from Les Sables d’Olonne where the competitors are currently preparing.

Of the record 30 competitors 17 are from France and seven from Britain. The boats are moored in the town and the pontoons are open to the general public.

Organisers are putting on a special lights display each night and local fishermen will lead the competitors out to the start line British yachtswoman, Dee Caffari (Aviva) will be leaving the pontoon first at 9.15 and making her way out of the harbour on a 25-minute journey.

The other 29 competitors will each follow every four minutes with Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) last to leave the pontoon at 11.11.

Once out of the harbour, the boats will hoist their mainsail and sail along the coast in a restricted area towards Port Bourgenay. The start, three miles offshore, will be signalled by French newsreader, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor at 13.02, after start procedures lasting eight minutes.

The thirty solo yachtsmen and yachtswomen will cross the 1200-metre line between the Tenace, a Naval deep-sea tug, on the starboard side and a yellow pyramid buoy on the port side. They will immediately sail out to sea towards Cape Finisterre, marking the exit from the Bay of Biscay.

Organisers recommend the harbour entrance in Les Sables d’Olonne, as good place to watch the yachts leaving.

A giant screen, which can be seen from the embankment will be set up at the Marine Base to follow the start.

The hill alongside Tanchet Lake and the Puits d’Enfer car park is another way to get a good view, especially as the 60-foot boats will be under sail.

As the start will take place three miles from the coast you should take some binoculars with you to get a clear view of the start.

You can also watch the race on the official Vendée Globe.

Leading the French pack are two former winners of the competition Vincent Riou and Michel Desjoyeaux, Roland Jourdain who has made the podium and Jean-Pierre Dick who recently won the Barcelona World Race.

On the British side are Alex Thomson (who was forced out of the last Vendée by boat damage and has been repairing his boat Hugo Boss in Les Sable after a collision with a fishing vessel), Dee Caffari who holds the record for sailing around the world solo against prevailing winds, Mike Golding who finished third in the last Vendée despite his keel falling off 50 miles from the finish line.

Sailor Steve White has just made it to the start line having raised enough money without a major sponsor by remortgaging his house. With no money to pay shore team, friends and family are preparing his boat The Spirit of Weymouth for the race. All donations welcome.

Photo: Jean Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendee Globe

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