The first night is always difficult in this kind of race. The sailors will not have managed much sleep, and the few manouvres they had to make last night will have tired them out considerably.
There are three distinct groups starting to appear now, with Louis Duc (Fives Lantana Environnement) showing as first on the tracker. Louis went north of the Ouesant exclusion zone and so picked the most westerly option. He will deal with the worst of the incoming front, set to bring 35-40 knots of wind and big seas.
The second group has chosen the most southerly route and is currently hugging the Brittany coast. In this group, fleet favourite Charlie Dalin (Apivia) leads, two miles ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut). This group will still have some strong winds from the incoming front, but avoid the worst of the sea state and the strongest gusts. Once the front passes, they will have a moderate WNW wind, providing the downwind conditions these boats thrive on.
And the final group has gone for something in between the two extremes. These boats headed south of the Ouesant exclusion zone, but then tacked off quickly to head west. Conrad Coleman on Imagine leads this group, and they will experience some conditions between the other two options – not as bad as the most westerly group, but with a little more of a sea state than those in the south.
My good friend Ollie, onboard Oliver Heer Ocean Racing, had to turn around and return to St Malo late last night due to a collision with Japanese sailor Kojiro Shiraishi around the Cap Fréhel buoy. Ollie is hoping to repair the boat and get back out as soon as possible. I wish him all the best, and hope to see him back out there soon.