Le De'fi, which has the indigestible name of Bouygues Telecom/Transiciel 6th Sens, was one of seven teams starting in the Addeco Maxi One Design World championship on a 900-mile race to Lorient in southern Brittany.
If they arrive first then they may take a break from their work building the radically designed yacht they hope will carry them to glory in the Louis Vuitton Cup series, which begins in Auckland in October.
New Zealand's Jeff Scott, in charge of Ludde Ingvall's Scandia-backed European entry, was second behind his compatriot Ross Field, the Kiwi who in 1997 won the Fastnet Race, with Scott on board, in the same class of 80ft, water- ballasted boat.
The French were trying everything but failing to get past Scott. However, in the light airs of the first night, navigator Marcel van Triest took the French much further off shore in the search for advantage as they sail toward the Bay of Biscay.Reuse content