The 21 Vendee Globe yachts are currently (at 0800) leaving the harbour of Sable d'Olonne for the 1305 start

Emotions are running high here this morning in Sables d’Olonne as crowds line the docks to bid their final farewells to the 21 Vendee Globe skippers.

At first light this morning every parking space was taken within a mile of the sailing compound and the local police and security are currently carrying out ‘crowd control’ to make way for the skippers as they head towards their yachts.

First to leave the dock at 0800 was Anne Liardet on Roxy followed in quick succession by Herve Lurent (UUDS), Bruce Schwab (Ocean Planet), Sebastien Josse (VMI), Dominic Wavre (Termenos), with Nick Moloney (Skandia) in sixth spot.

Chatting to an emotional Moloney (pictured) just before he left he commented: “For me this is a very tough time. I found out my father had terminal cancer just after Cowes Week and decided I wouldn’t do the race. It didn’t take much to work out I might not see him again. I just wanted to move back to Aus and be with my family. And then they made me realise that what I do is very much a part of their life and dad felt very guilty about being sick at this time. My dad’s been at the start and finish of all my major events so this being the biggest, my father was incredibly shattered. I didn’t want to leave my family when I felt they really needed me most but I realised this was something great for my father to follow and look forward to.”

As Moloney left the dock it wasn’t difficult to see how emotional it was for this tough Australian as he tried to hold back the tears as friends, family and team bid their final farewells.

At 0930 the yachts are still leaving the dock.

The current weather situation for the 1305 start is for a north-easterly 5-8 knots but the forecast is to the wind to freshen overnight giving the fleet an exciting first few days in to the race.

More news when we have it.