After a briefing amongst the British captains in true Nelsonic fashion, Colin White's Goliath and Peter Warwick's Zealous led the attack, the French van opening fire at around a thousand yards. As the range decreased, the crews of Guerrier and Conquerant managed to get a few rounds of chainshot to the guns and fired as the British continued to close in under a press of sail.
Several shots parted the stays of Goliath's mainmast, bringing it down over the port side. Concerned at this loss of speed, Colin considered abandoning his original intention for Goliath to pass inside the French line and instead to turn to engage on the closer seaward side.
However, Clear for Action accurately models the limitations of 18th Century signalling and Colin shared the frustration of many a captain in that he simply would not be able to signal his intentions to Zealous in time to avoid a collision if he drastically changed Goliath's course.
Colin determined to maintain the line and press the attack, hauling slightly out to starboard to create some sea-room for the fast approaching Zealous to pass inside. As Zealous took up the gauntlet, she too suffered damage to the rigging and started to slow, but their momentum carried both British ships to the head of the anchored French line and they both opened fire on Guerrier with double-shotted broadsides at point blank range.
Although the two lead British ships had taken damage, Lord de Saumarez's Orion and Bob Walker's Theseus had been largely shielded from fire as a result (despite the best efforts the French gunners !) and they arrived at the battleline in good order, raking Guerrier and Conquerant to devastating effect as they passed by and then moving on to engage the other ships in the French van.