First night for Vendée Globe

After the high emotions of start day in Les Sables d’Olonne skippers competing in the Vendée Globe solo round the world race had an active, challenging first night at sea dealing with unstable winds, occasional squalls and regular manoeuvres. On the early morning ranking François Gabart leads the fleet which already spans 74 miles on the Bay of Biscay. Marc Guillemot, who finished third in the last edition of the race, limped back into Les Sables d’Olonne at 03:00hrs (local) this morning to have his IMOCA Open 60 Safran assessed after suffering unspecified damage less than five hours into the race.

With some 165 miles to make to Cape Finisterre, the NW corner of Spain, François Gabart, one of the fleet’s youngest and most talented skippers, has taken charge of the fleet on Macif with a lead of some 5.2 miles early this morning ahead of 2004-5 race winner Vincent Riou (PRB) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire).

The leading trio, had already built a decent cushion to Bernard Stamm on Cheminée Poujoulat who was 15.6 miles behind the pacemaker this morning. Of the other non French skippers Alex Thomson was lying seventh on Hugo Boss at 17 miles behind Macif and Mike Golding on Gamesa is tenth. The course to Cape Finisterre remains a straight one and it will only be after the corner that there will be strategic choices which might open up the fleet more.

Meantime Bertrand de Broc left the Les Sables d’Olonne channel at 0245hrs this morning to start his Vendée Globe, nearly 14 hours after the fleet cleared the start line.

From Sam Davies on Saveol in 15th this morning, 52 nm from the leader

Hello everyone! Well, the Bay of Biscay is being "gentle" to us!!!!

Not the 58kt wind I saw during the last Vendee Globe first 48h - however we have been sent a series of HUGE rainsqualls and the wind has been every force from 7kt all the way up to 45 knots (in the biggest squall) So, as you can imagine it's difficult to get the sail combination right for any length of time! I am playing it safe and keeping the sail smaller whilst the risk of the squalls is still with us!

Life on board is a bit damp, as Saveol is alternating between being a submarine through the giant waves, or a giant shower cabin in the torrential icy rain!

Time to rest is limited as I am constantly trimming the sails to follow the instable conditions, and also keeping an eye out for traffic!

BUT it is really really nice to be out here and in sight of some of the others... Looking forward to maybe even seeing Cap Finisterre later today..

Sam x