Bay racing

SEB leads a spectator-packed start to the Volvo Ocean Race's leg 7 from Annapolis

Sunday April 28th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
It was a spectator fest on the Chesapeake Bay this afternoon with the departure of leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race from Annapolis across the north Atlantic to La Rochelle.

Crews and spectators alike thanked their lucky stars that the strong south easterly winds forecast had failed to materialise (or at least had been delayed) and although the visibility was not great there was a managable 14 knots of breeze from the south southwest.

With the start line up-stream from the enormous Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the gun went at 1300 local time and sailing under full mainsails and no.2 jibs the boats had to funnel through between the arches of the bridge before continuing their way south. In the interests of safety a half mile wide corridor had been cordoned off for the boats with the large flotilla of spectator boats able to view the action from either side of the race course. This corridor culminated in a gate 6.5 miles from the start line.

It was Gunnar Krantz's SEB no doubt aided by talented new recruit Gavin Brady, who made the best start. But they were soon caught by Grant Dalton's Amer Sport One, the Frers boat seeming to relish the moderate upwind conditions. The winners seemed to be those who able to put in the least number of tacks.

Because of the short tacking the boats were sailing with their sails down below rather than stacked up to weather, for better manoeuvrability.

At the gate Amer Sports One had pulled ahead and was 35 seconds in front of the closely bunched pack of SEB, News Corp and djuice.Then came Assa Abloy 55 seconds after Amer Sports One followed by Tyco, illbruck and Amer Sports Too respectively one minute,one minute 45 seconds and three minutes after the leader.

The boats have 140 miles to sail before they can pass to the south of the Eastern Shore and so it will not be until tomorrow that they can finally crack off and head out into the open ocean.

For some incredible images of the start see the following pages....

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