Bad weather delays round-the-world race

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The Independent Online

Gales and driving rain did not deter tens of thousands of people from pouring in here yesterday for a last glimpse of the 24 yachts waiting to take part in the Vendée Globe single-handed, non-stop, round-the-world race yesterday.

Gales and driving rain did not deter tens of thousands of people from pouring in here yesterday for a last glimpse of the 24 yachts waiting to take part in the Vendée Globe single-handed, non-stop, round-the-world race yesterday.

But most of the boats were attached firmly to their moorings after the skippers had told the organisers in no uncertain terms that they wanted the start, scheduled for 13.01 local time, to be delayed to allow the latest depression that is forecast to batter both the British and French coasts to be allowed to blow through.

Only the French veteran Yves Parlier voted to go ahead as planned at a heated meeting on Saturday. While recognising the apprehension of the remainder, the organisers were torn between recognising common sense and fulfilling contracts to sponsor, commercial organisers and the demands of television.

All four of the British competitors, Mike Golding, Ellen MacArthur, Josh Hall and Richard Tolkien, were content to see the start of the race put off until 13.01 tomorrow.

There will still be television coverage for those disappointed at making their way to the Vendée fishing port and the sympathy was largely with the competitors in this most gruelling of 25,000-mile 105-day marathons.

It gave a chance for one of them, Catherine Chabaud, the only other woman competitor apart from MacArthur, the opportunity to go for one last test sail. "We haven't been able to go sailing for the last two weeks because of bad weather," she said. And the forces of nature may not yet be ready to make up for that.

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