Vendee Globe Reports 9 - 11 November
Audio report 9 November - Race day - Just before the start.
Audio Clip courtesy Trigone/VendeeGlobe
With over 300,000 spectators on shore and over 100 spectator boats at sea with the 30 contestants, the 2008 edition of the Vendee Globe has started in style. Steve and the other 29 solo round the world yachtsmen are facing a blustery first night at sea on the start of their three month, non-stop race.
The moderate south-westerly wind soon increased to a major storm in the Bay of Biscay. Four skippers returned to the shelter of Les Sables d’Olonne after a few hours of racing to repair after suffering damage: Temenos (Dominique Wavre), Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm), Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson) and Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux).
The storm was a real blow and merciless: On the 11th, Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux) rejoined the race, but Groupe Bel (Kito de Pavant), Energies Autour du Monde (Yannick Bestaven) and DCNS (Marc Thiercelin) were dismasted and were forced to retire. Steve is now in 16th place out of the 27 remaining boats.
11 November - Birthday at Sea.
Steve is celebrating his 36th birthday alone at sea today by eating his first meal since leaving France. Yesterday was brutal with all his attention being on ensuring the boat survived the Bay of Biscay pounding. Three of his competitors were dismasted in the furious weather. He is celebrating today in calmer weather in 20 knots of wind with 15 to 18 knots of boat speed.
Being born on 11 November, there were some that wanted to name him Armistice, but his parents prevailed and Steven Geoffrey William White was given his middle names from his two grandfathers. The eleventh of November and its reflection on the misfortunes of war reminds us of the ongoing conflicts and the massive sacrifices still being made and the need to rebuild the lives of the wounded survivors. Toe in the Water, as well as being the name of Steve's boat, is also the name of an organisation dedicated to rebuilding the confidence and lives of the wounded by exposing them to the challenges of sailing.