Spectators in their thousands lined the St Nazaire harbour wall as the eight boats headed out to sea. The start was close as to be expected with several top inshore helmsman and America's Cup crew on board the boats, but it was Bernard Stamm's transatlantic record holder Bobst Group-Armor Lux which managed to get away the cleanest.
The boats headed upwind in a 20 knot building breeze, close tacking along the shore to a turning mark before going out to sea. Tiscale, the Italian Open 60 of Simone Bianchetti was first to the mark followed by Stamm, Jean-Pierre Dick's Virbac (the former PRB) and in fourth place, three minutes behind Tiscale, was Kingfisher.
Conditions look to turn rotten tonight and tomorrow with 40+ knot headwinds forecast for the passage past Spain and Portugal.