Lionel started this great adventure with extreme caution. First of all, just like all the other skippers, what he feared most was a collision : "I'll be extra careful at the start. It would be stupid to damage the boat by taking unnecessary risks. The road is long. And I need to take Gitana's measure with my rivals", said Lionel while leaving the pontoon this morning. What's more, he had mentally rehearsed this departure several times during the night : "I performed a few gybes (tack-changing move while sailing downwind) in my bed, but it's fine", he laughed, in order to let some pressure out.
Somewhat angry !
And not quite willing to hide it. When one rounds the mark in last position - even though someone has to be last - one obviously has some reasons to be unhappy, especially during a race. This is what Lionel told Yann Marilley, his Team Manager, over the phone, after the night had fallen, while he was really alone, and finally picking up the pace of the competition. Yet, at mid-course before the last buoy, he was putting up with Michel Desjoyeaux, himself also sailing a brand new boat.
Ashore, listening to these facts, the Gitana Team and the tactician / navigator Marc Guessard took things with more distance : "we knew it was not going to be easy. We would have liked to have more time to set up the boat. But the race is only beginning. Lionel has had tougher times". Simple words, spoken by the whole team, backing up the skipper.
The night was expected to be rough, with increasing winds shifting to the south west. But most of all, the worst anguish : at 20:00 GMT, news that Groupama has capsized and had been hit by Bonduelle started to spread. The two skippers were reported safe and sound, Bonduelle circling around Groupama in order to signal the shipwreck's position and ensure safety while waiting for the rescue team to arrive.
Next press release on November 11th, after the 14:00 (French time - 13:00 GMT) audio session with race headquarters.