Alex Thomson and Sam Davies are two of 123 skippers who departed from Saint-Malo, Brittany, yesterday in one of the most famous French solo offshore races, La Route du Rhum: Destination Guadeloupe.
Both are competing in the event for the first time, with the aim of claiming the IMOCA class prize.
La Route du Rhum is a 3,542 nautical mile race, which comes around just every four years.
The race takes skippers from Saint-Malo in Brittany, France, across the Atlantic to the finish line at Pointe-à Pitre, Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean.
This year marks the 40 anniversary of the race and the most competitive in its history.
Despite never competing in the Route du Rhum before, Gosport-born Thomson began the race as one of the favourites.
He will compete onboard HUGO BOSS – the famous black boat which the skipper sailed to a second place, record-breaking finish in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe.
Speaking from his boat, Thomson told routedurhum.com: ‘The first night was breezy, hectic and fast with a lot of manoeuvres.
‘It was exhausting with 25 to 30kts of wind, confused seas and very uncomfortable.
‘I am happy with my position but the aim is to get to the west and we will see how it plays out.
‘I expect the wind will go forwards a bit and I will slow down, then at some point I will tack and cross the front and then tack again to go south.’
Davies, from Portsmouth, has sailed around the world before as part of the all-female Team SCA in the Volvo Ocean Race and solo in the famous Vendée Globe race.
Competing on Initiatives-Coeur, she said she was making good progress, despite little wind.
‘Things are going well but this first little depression was a bit more complicated than we first expected,’ said Davies.
‘It is hard to get going through this cross sea with not so much wind.
‘We can't go very fast. I have to really work on the plan for the next 48 hours.’
The current Route du Rhum IMOCA record, set by French skipper Francois Garbart in the 2014 edition of the race, stands at 12 days, 4 hours, 38 and 55 seconds.