Vendee Globe 2008-2009
Les Sables d’Olonne is getting ready to welcome the thirty skippers and their boats in Port Olona, whilst the Vendée Globe village is taking shape on the quayside nearby. Six monohulls are already moored at the pontoon quietly awaiting the big day.
It is time to weigh up exactly how much of a challenge faces the two yachtswomen and twenty-eight yachtsmen, as they make their way around the world. They will have to cover almost 25,000 miles during a voyage that will last around three months on their way back to the starting point in Les Sables d’Olonne after circling the world. With less than one month to go before the starting gun is fired, the solo sailors are not really alone and have not yet come under the full spotlight of the media: six boats are already in Port Olona and while you can feel the excitement growing as the finishing touches are made to the huge, magnificent Vendée Globe village, there are few people down on the pontoons, apart from the shore teams, who are taking their place in a special area, as they get ready to launch their RIBs and set up their workshops.
A stream of competitors is due to arrive in Port Olona to join the first six monohulls to moor up at the pontoons: Raphaël Dinelli (Fondation Océan Vital) was the first to arrive, as he set up his shore base here, followed by Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas), who has also been based in Les Sables for some time as he prepares this circumnavigation. Over the past few days three foreigners have entered Port Olona: the American, Rich Wilson (Great American III) the elder statesman of the event, alongside the Canadian, Derek Hatfield (Algimouss-Spirit of Canada). Also moored up in Les Sables d´Olonne, the Austrian, Norbert Sedlacek (Nauticsport-Kapsch), who set up his base here a long time ago to prepare one of the oldest monohulls in this sixth edition. The current line-up was completed by the arrival from the Mediterranean last Friday of Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel): «We set out in fine weather from the Mediterranean, but when we stopped over in Spain to pick up a crewman, Sébastien Audigane, we missed the good weather and we had to do almost the whole stretch upwind.»
Currently on their way to the Vendée Globe harbour, four British entrants, with Dee Caffari (Aviva) hoping to arrive on the tide this evening (Tuesday) with high tide at 17h05. Mike Golding (Ecover) and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) set sail a few days ago from England, but are taking advantage of the delivery trip to go for one final sail before the start. As for Jonny Malbon (Artemis), he left Britain today (Tuesday)… Most of the other skippers are expected on Thursday or Friday, as they make their way down from the coast of Brittany from La Trinité sur Mer, Lorient, Port la Forêt or Brest.