Bertrand de Broc limps back to port with damage while 19 skippers get a lumpy start on their round-the-world marathon

One Vendée Globe skipper limped back to port today before the starting gun for the marathon round the world race had even fired, as the race got off to a nervous start today.

Bertrand de Broc, on his third attempt to finish this race, collided with his team support RIB as his boat took off on a surf just five minutes before the start. The impact holed his boat.

He returned to port to start repairing the damage and hopes to leave again tonight or tomorrow.

The 19 other skippers made the windward start in a ragged pack. Conditions were lumpy, with a 2m swell and 12-15 knots of wind. A group including four of the race favourites, keen to make their mark, were over the line early and had to return to recross the line.

Vincent Riou on PRB, Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire, François Gabart on MACIF, Kito de Pavant on Groupe Bel and Gutek Gutkowski on Energa all had to make an ignominious run back. The separation is of no relevance on this long race, except in making an early division at the only time the TV watching French millions ever see all the boats competing together.

British sailors Mike Golding, Alex Thomson and Samantha Davies were sensibly taking the long view and holding back to keep out of trouble.

Marc Guillemot, the Vendée Globe’s ‘most wanted’ (there’s an arrest warrant out for him in the UK), took up the early lead in Safran.

Conditions for the start were reasonable for the sailors, taking off a cold front to beat out into Biscay. Winds are forecast to build overnight and back on the next warm front, when they will tack off and begin to shape a course south. The start may have looked grey and cheerless, but Les Sables in November can – and has – produced far worse than this.

Hopefully these conditions will allow the fleet to get away cleanly and into warmer weather in the next few days. Tradewinds are already well established around Madeira and the Canary Islands.

For anyone with a problem who does have to return, however, the door to the leaders will soon shut as they reach Cape Finisterre leaving a ridge of high pressure behind.

Read more: How to follow the Vendée Globe