As autumn gales pounded the French port town of Les Sables, skippers of the solo round-the-world yacht race Vendée Globe voted to remain in port and delay start of the race for several days. Delay of a high-profile race is an unprecedented occurrence, but the competitors, however discouraged by the wait for weather, decided that starting in the teeth of a gale made little practical sense.
“This is a good lesson for all of us. The sea is in charge right now; we just have to accept that. There’s no question of being annoyed or not. It’s been impossible to even think of leaving the pontoon since Sunday,” said Catharine Chabaud, French skipper of the yacht Whirpool after the decision to delay was made. “Huge waves have been constantly breaking right at the entrance to the port. Nevertheless, everyone has their own imperatives. There are fewer people in Les Sables and so there’s a lot less pressure on the skippers.”
The 24 skippers began the race nearly a week late, finally departing Les Sables on Nov. 9.