Sixty-seven boats started the Europe 1 STAR. Loïck Peyron (Fujicolor II) was just one of the many favourites with the French now completely dominating this side of the sport. Amongst them Florence Arthaud (Groupe Pierre 1er) fresh from her victory in the Route du Rhum, Philippe Poupon (Fleury Michon) the title and record holder, Laurent Bourgnon (Primagaz) the rising star, Philippe Monnet back from his single-handed sail round the world, Paul Vatine (Haute Normandie) on the 1988 winning trimaran, Francis Joyon (Banque Populaire), Jean Maurel and Hervé Laurent.
Weather conditions were unpredictable and not very favourable and the fleet quickly scattered across the Atlantic – Joyon headed north, Vatine south and Bourgnon and Peyron took the middle course. It took almost a week to sort out the lead. Bourgnon, in the lead, broke his mainsheet track, Arthaud capsized off Newfoundland and Poupon had long dropped out because of a broken daggerboard. There remained just one, Peyron, lying in wait for half the distance. He put his foot down near the finish and came in with more than a 24-hour lead over the second boat. He said on his arrival that he could have sailed much faster, but was not very familiar with the boat (he had taken over as skipper of Fujicolor from Canadian Mike Birch).
The new generation 60ft monohulls specifically designed for the Vendee Globe surprised all with their performances. Yves Parlier (Aquitaine-Innovations) flirted with the 14-day barrier for crossing the Atlantic.
Mike Birch and David Scully were using the event to match race their two new Irensdesigned 40ft trimarans. The plan was to make a class of 40ft trimarans, a stepping stone into the 60ft multihull class, which would fill the void left by the demise of Formula 40s in the late 1980s. But it was Fort Lauderdale-based Etienne Giroire who took 11 hours off Nic Bailey’s Class 4 record, again beating all the Class 2 and 3 entries. Despite claiming sustained speeds of 21 knots in 12 knots of wind, Birch finished over a day and a half later, having taken the southerly Azores route.
A replica Jester, after the original was lost in 1988, was sailed keeping up the tradition of sailing in every race.