Vendée Globe: the race starts in less than 20 hours!

This Sunday, November 6th, the only single-handed non-stop round-the-world race is starting!

Tomorrow, at 12.02 UTC, 29 solo sailors will sail directly towards Cape Finisterre, 350 miles across the Bay of Biscay. The Cape Finisterre located in the North-West corner of Spain and it will be first obstacle in this 24 400 mile non-stop round-the-world race. The leaders should be able to reach Spanish coat on Monday morning before turning left to head towards the Tropic of Cancer (Northern Tropic).

It is probably the most favourable weather forecast for the start of any Vendée Globe since the first race in 1989. Skippers should escape the Bay of Biscay in good shape to pick up the trade winds off the Canaries. The exceptional weather, which has prevailed over the past four months on the Atlantic coast is set to last for a few days more. This should allow the solo skippers to head directly for warmer climes, even pointing directly to the hot weather around the Equator which they should reach in less than ten days.

The sun will gradually disappear after the start, but the wind will remain light to moderate, as the skies cloud over. The sailors will be able to cross the Bay of Biscay with the wind at 340° (as they head towards Cape Finisterre on a bearing of around 240°), with the wind on the beam increasing to 20-25 knots. At this pace, by daybreak on Monday, the leaders will already be off Cape Finisterre in wind in excess of thirty knots wind and rain. They will sail to the east of the Separation Scheme, so close to the Spanish coast. At that point, they are going to have to pay attention to the angles with the wind still blowing from the north as they speed down to Madeira and the Canaries. They are going to have to remain at least fifty miles away from Madeira, if they sail to the east and a hundred miles, if they go to the west. They should pass the Canaries in winds that have strengthened to 25 knots or more (but much less in the wind shadow) or head 200 miles further west (where the winds will be lighter at around 15 knots).

When they reach the Cape Verdes the leaders will have to choose: they can sail between Senegal and the islands, where the trade winds look stronger or stay further west passing Santo Antão, which is the furthest west and culminates at more than 2000m.

In conclusion, the voyage down the North Atlantic looks like being very fast for the leaders crossing the Bay of Biscay in less than 24 hours. They should cross the Tropic of Cancer (latitude 23°26’ N) after three and a half days and the latitude of the Cape Verdes before next weekend.

Where to follow the races:

Vendée Globe: the race starts in less than 20 hours!

www.vendeeglobe.org