Kito de Pavant gets carried away by the crowd
The sea had boats heeling and hearts reeling yesterday at the start of the Vendée Globe. Spirits rose as the 20 skippers sailed down the channel of Les Sables d'Olonne, which from the first gleams of daylight resembled a jam-packed stadium.
Moved to tears as he hugged his children tight, Kito de Pavant remained generous with his family and friends, the media and the public, conscious that these moments mark your life. After two hours of preparation at sea with his technical team to prepare Groupe Bel, the skipper found himself alone, four minutes from the starting gun.
At 13:02, the gun went off and the boats forged ahead with three meters of swell into a westerly 12 knots head wind. So eager to do battle, five contenders crossed the line a few seconds too early. Energa, Groupe Bel, Macif, Banque Populaire and PRB had to turn round and set off a second time. This small hitch is not of particular importance on the scale of these three months of racing. From now on, the sailors will be returning to their element. Kito has cut the cord with the land for good.
Before casting off, Groupe Bel's skipper was particularly moved. “I must leave, cast off, and focus on what is going to happen and it's not going to be easy. We are clearly in the race. I am on the point of taking some emotional blows in the channel. You have to concentrate and try to remain calm. It is surely the hardest day. There is a strong contrast between what we experienced in the last three weeks at Les Sables d'Olonne and the solitude that awaits me.”
Half an hour after the start, Kito enjoyed friendly discussions with the Groupe Bel employees and guests, who cheered him on at sea on this special day. “I jumped the start a little. It's a pity because I was at the right pace and I had the right sail configuration. It doesn't matter. Everything is going fine and little by little I'm catching up on my contenders. It was an eyeful in the channel this morning. I had a wonderful time, even though obviously this put the pressure on a little. I am now calm and collected and already feel part of the Vendée Globe race. See you soon on the Internet!”
To follow the position of the boats: tracking