27 DAYS TO THE START OF THE VENDÉE GLOBE 2012-2013
Vendée Globe: Groupe Bel moored in Les Sables d'Olonne
The Groupe Bel monohull arrived in Les Sables d'Olonne Saturday afternoon after a ‘safe' delivery from the Mediterranean. Kito de Pavant and his crew sailed the 1,700 miles from Port Camargue in very mild weather conditions. First of the boats from other ports to reach the start port for the Vendée Globe, Groupe Bel has joined AKENA Vérandas, sailed by Arnaud Boissières, and Team Plastique, sailed by Alessandro Di Benedetto on the Port Olona marina pontoon. 27 days from the start, Groupe Bel's skipper inevitably felt a pang of regret as he sailed up the well-known channel of Les Sables d'Olonne, where the public had turned out to see him last time.
Kito de Pavant: “When we think of the Vendée Globe from our home port of Port Camargue, the start always seems quite far away. You say to yourself you still have time, but on arriving in Les Sables d'Olonne, everything gathered pace. The people of Les Sables d'Olonne met us in the channels and the Vendée Globe feeling is already palpable on the pontoon. So here we are, Groupe Bel has taken up her berth on the pontoon, ready for the start, and we are about to set off on a round-the-world!
As far as we're concerned, it started by a round-Spain, with this delivery. We are the only ones to carry out this exercise, since Groupe Bel is the only contender to come from such a distance. We sailed in light air in the Mediterranean and then at Gibraltar, as we did along Portugal, before ending with a pleasant tack in a south-westerly at 25 knots in the Bay of Biscay.
There's some stress during such a journey, since setting out to sea always represents a risk, but it is also an opportunity for us, since it enables us to test the equipment over a long period of sailing. Everything that is new is used during the nine days in a row, which is an excellent way to break it in, and all is working perfectly on board Groupe Bel, which has never been quite so perfect. I love my boat. I would not change it for anything in the world. This is important before such a round-the-world!”
Gwen Gbick, Brice de Crisenoy and Eric Lefèvre accompanied Kito on this delivery. Every day, the crew sent us messages and beautiful photos. These can be seen here: http://kito.20minutes-blogs.fr/