The damaged area is in the living area, not far from the batteries, and Davies decided there was no chance of a repair and a re-start of the Route du Rhum.

With an overall length of 203ft, Athos is the world's largest privately-owned two-masted schooner.

"Alex Thomson’s brain must be working overtime."

The weather picture looks very difficult for later in the week for the slower monohulls, especially the Class40s, which will be bashing into another full gale by late on Thursday.

Davies is fine, she has diverted course to preserve her boat which has suffered delamination.

"The three leaders should in fact start to come together on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. We’ll then see which of them between Alex on the one hand and Vincent and Paul had the best strategy."

An Atlantic storm has been making itself felt across the whole fleet with one boat capsized, two dismasted and many sailors electing to seek shelter in French and Spanish ports.

Goodchild, 28, was racing well in strong conditions, sailing in around 30 knots of southwesterly wind and big seas and had just moved into third place in the 53-strong Class40 division when the mast broke around 0430hrs CET.

The 73-year old Frenchman from Les Sables d'Olonne is now running downwind with no sails until conditions improve.

The highly-credentialled solo sailor gives tactical insights into the decisions of the first 24 hours.

Three of the favourites have already experienced difficulties, while Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss is leading the IMOCA fleet after a bold gamble paid off.

The support team is scrambling to get the solo sailor to shelter as a new low pressure system will sweep across the Bay of Biscay over the coming hours.

Marcus Grimes is stepping into a new level of technology and style of racing with the purchase of the Judel/Vrolijk that was Elena Nova, now called Insomnia.

At the front of the fleet the awesome ULTIME trimarans, led by Seb Josse on Maxi Solo Edmond de Rothschild, were hitting 30 knots of boatspeed.

A record 123 will start in a 15-20 knot breeze that will turn ugly on Tuesday when 35-40 knots with gusts up to 55 knots will hit competitors.