|Skipper Alex Thomson sails onboard his class Imoca monohull "Hugo Boss" on November 6. — AFP Photo|Viet Nam News
PARIS – Fiendish winds on the round-the-world yacht race dubbed the Everest of the Seas left one sailor with a broken tooth and another rattled by a sleepless "hell of a first night".
Welshman Alex Thomson saw his early Vendee Globe lead evaporate on Monday as Frenchman Armel Le Cleac’h slipped past him almost 30 hours into the gruelling, solo non-stop challenge.
This year’s eighth edition, over 21,638 nautical miles, takes in the three great Capes – Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn – and sees a new technical advance in "Dali moustache" lifting foils, which seven of the participants are debuting this year.
The appendage helps lift the boats above the water in a dragster effect to increase dynamic power and lighten the vessel. The leading three racers were all using the device.
But strong northerly winds off France’s west coast made it a rough introduction for the sailors, hours after 29 skippers from 10 countries set off from the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne.
"That was a hell of a first night," said Frenchman Paul Meilhat, standing sixth. "Had to change the sail twice and I didn’t sleep much nor eat."
Jeremie Beyou, eighth after day one, suffered a broken tooth after his rudder blade flipped up and threw him off balance.
"I fell on the winch and broke a tooth. Had to call the doc," he said.
If the previous seven races – held every four years since 1989 – are anything to go by only about half the field will return to Les Sables d’Olonne.
The Vendee Globe has in its history claimed three lives. AFP