Nick Moloney has left his British base for France to prepare for the start of the 2002 Route du Rhum

A brief window in the heavy weather that has been sweeping across the English Channel and Atlantic coast of France over the last week has allowed Nick Moloney to leave his British base for France and head for the start port of the 2002 Route du Rhum.

His Class 2 Open 50 Offshore Challenges 1 has been lying in wait at the Offshore Challenges Cowes base as a series of low-pressure systems hit Europe from the Atlantic.

The entire Route du Rhum fleet is required by rules to congregate in Saint-Malo by the evening of Thursday, 31 October.

An early arrival will allow Nick to rest and consider his tactics for the 3,540-mile singlehanded transatlantic race to Guadeloupe in the French West Indies.

“I’m keen to get to France and flick the switch to really concentrate on the race,” explained Nick prior to leaving Cowes.

“We [the Offshore Challenges team] feel like we’re in good shape. I’m comfortable with the boat [Offshore Challenges 1] and now I can really work on my own personal contribution, focusing on the course, tactics and the weather for the race.”

In 17 days Nick will line up against the nine challengers in Class 2 on the start line off Brittany.

He is looking forward to the wholehearted farewell the Route du Rhum fleet traditionally receive from the engaging French public.

“I hear the start is spectacular with all the people that come to see the race and all the enthusiasm that surrounds it. The support from the French public is just awesome. I’m sure I’ll be quite overwhelmed by it all when I see it unfolding,” he said.

A freshening wind may force Moloney to break the trip tonight, taking shelter in Cherbourg before the final hop to St Malo.