Caffari sets her sights on new record

A good, old-fashioned Bay of Biscay buster is lining up to welcome the 30 competitors in the Vendée Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race as they start off at the fishing port of Les Sables d'Olonne today.

Winds are expected to be 25 knots and could whistle up to 40 knots but, yesterday, there were no last-minute plans to delay the start. In 2000, 60-knot winds pinned the fleet in harbour.

The British presence, with seven starters and a Frenchman, Seb Josse, driving Ellen MacArthur's BT, has never been stronger, but the competition, with 20 of the 30 Open 60-foot boats being new for this race, has also never been stronger. "It's going to be a pretty rough ride," said Alex Thomson, who has been racing against time for the last three weeks after his Hugo Boss was badly holed and dismasted in a collision with a French fishing boat.

One of Britain's Olympic masterminds, Sir Keith Mills, has declined a trip to Valencia to watch his America's Cup team at play, to support Thomson in more than just financial terms. Mike Golding will also be wary, not least as his Ecover was dismasted just eight hours into the race in 2000 and one of the two women in the race, both British, Sam Davies, sailing the eight-year old Roxy, added: "It could also be quite dangerous, so we will have to be careful." Her counterpart, Dee Caffari, in the brand new Aviva, is aiming to become the first woman to sail both ways around the world, non-stop and singlehanded.

But she recognises that the much faster downwind route can be a lot more threatening than the upwind way, eastabout. In contrast, conditions were more benign in the more troubled venue of Valencia, where four America's Cup contenders were centre stage of the annual regatta of the recently formed Club Nautico Espanol de Vela, among them Sir Keith's Team Origin.

The significance lies in a 150-year old stipulation in a New York deed of gift that a challenging club must, among other things, stage an annual regatta. That is at the heart of a claim by the San Francisco-based Golden Gate Yacht Club, through which Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle team is trying to challenge, that the CNEV is not properly qualified.

The holder, Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi, is contesting that, and the Valencia regatta. Triple Olympic gold medallist, he has a silver, too, Ben Ainslie is at the helm of the British challenge, which is racing in a boat borrowed from the Spanish team. Some smart sailing, with another double gold medallist Iain Percy at his side, gave Origin a win in the opening race.

But the main purposes of taking part at all are to give the team a sense of purpose while the America's Cup event is bogged down in its legal wrangle and to put in some much-needed practice ahead of the 12-team Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland in January/February next year.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments