Sébastien Josse: It's down to us to write the scenario now
The magic of the Vendée Globe, forever and for always! After leaving the port of Les Sables d'Olonne, the skipper of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild headed over to the start line where the race kicks off at 12:02 GMT. The sailor is preparing to set sail on his third solo round the world race. A slice of life' for which he has prepared intensely with the Gitana Team, Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild's offshore racing stable. This morning, the first frosts whitened the pontoon as if to remind the skippers that tonight will be chilly in the Bay of Biscay. Before that though, there was plenty to warm their hearts. The looks, the shared words and the hugs pulling yourself away is not easy, but now it's over to the race and to the adventure.
Above: on-board image in Les Sables d'Olonne's canal, photo Yann Riou / Gitana SA
Sébastien Josse, skipper of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild, shortly before leaving the dock:
I slept pretty well and I woke up just before the alarm. It's possible that we might be able to get a few minutes' sleep tonight, but I think we'll only really be able to get some shut-eye once we're level with Cape Saint Vincent (southern tip of Portugal).
The race will be pretty quick at the start, with a few manœuvres, which will call for some good sail choices. It's important to be in the leading group because the light airs will quickly chase us down.
Setting off on these adventures captives us. We have ambitions and desires to be at the start of the Vendée Globe; it's a slice of life. It's not something you do ten times: two, three, maybe a maximum of four times in your career.
Right now, it's down to us to write the scenario. I know that I'm heading off around the world, but the notion of three months is hard to take in immediately. The first parts of the race will be sailed in the sunshine, like in the transatlantic race, but our entry into the Roaring Forties will I think be a real booster shot.
In 2004 and 2008 (Sébastien's first two Vendée Globes), I wasn't yet a dad. In this instance, I'm leaving my family behind me, with a little one at home so that gets to you. He's still young and doesn't really realise what's happening. Dad's going to work? Yes, dad's going to work.
Image, Edmond de Rothschild under full mainsail off Les Sables d'Olonne, live photo from on-board Yann Riou / Gitana SA
Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, together with his wife in Les Sables d'Olonne, are alongside Sébastien and the team: These are very important times, primarily because our skipper is leaving us for a long time. He's going to be alone for two and a half months, which is something few people will get to do. Sébastien is very courageous for setting sail. Everyone knows how demanding this race is and managing to complete it is the primary aim and after that, we're allowed to dream! Baroness Ariane de Rothschild takes this sentiment further. I feel a deep sense of pride today. That of the quality of the incredible teamwork, which to my mind, is a genuine model for the business world in general. Naturally it's also an extremely powerful moment for our skipper who now holds the cards and has the race ahead of him. Sébastien, we're with you and will be for every day of this round the world, which we'll be thrilled to share.
Cyril Dardashti, CEO of Gitana Team: No matter how long we've been doing this job, it's always a striking moment and it really gives your work concrete expression. You're aware of what Sébastien will experience and you even feel a bit bad for him, but you know that he's heading out there with real passion.
Round-up on the weather situation with Antoine Koch, a member of Gitana Team: As forecast, there will be little breeze as the race kicks-off, with a dozen or so knots for about thirty miles. From there, the NNW'ly wind will pick up to 20 and then 25 knots. It will be pretty shifty and we'll have to get a proper handle on that later today and throughout the night. They'll make Cape Finisterre at daybreak and there's sure to be a short stretch of slightly calmer conditions before the breeze kicks back in. Overall, the start of the race will be really very quick. The front runners will be clear of Portugal from Tuesday.