Racing postponed

... for the second day in the Tour Voile

Thursday July 19th 2001, Author: Isabelle Musy, Location: United Kingdom
During the skippers briefing that was held yesterday the race committee announced that the 160- mile offshore race to Bayonne would probably start this evening. The strong winds currently hitting the Tour Voile fleet are due to decrease and shift to the northwest later today. This should provide enough of an opening for the racing to start.

René Boulaire, the race committee director, explained the situation: "According to the weather forecast, the wind will still be strong until later today, with gusts up to 35 knots. As the tide is an issue, we had two choices; either try to leave the marina at 6 o'clock this morning and have a start soon after that. However, the wind would have been too strong to take the risk. The other possibility is to start this evening as the boats will have until 1900 to leave the marina. The wind should then have shifted to the north west and decreased to 20-25 knots. It should remain like this over the night and then abruptly die. We might then have to shorten the leg. The swell will still be an issue that is why we might add marks in order to prevent the fleet to sail too close to the shore".
Reactions varied among the skippers. Simon Shaw, skipper of British University Sailing Team is eager to sail: "We really want to sail in the wind. The sooner they start the race, the more wind there will be and the happier we'll be." The Kiwis have been working all day on the boat. "It was a day of learning for some of the crew. Learning about motors, especially for our "mechanic navigator". We need an extra day to get prepared, luckily it looks like we'll have it", said Hamish Pepper, skipper of Sun Microsystems Team New Zealand Racing Crew.

They were also various reactions among the French sailors regarding the race committee's decision so far. "The weather forecast René Boulaire announced is the same I've seen on the American charts and forecasts. I agree with the race committee's decision. It would be a shame if the last offshore race was cancelled", commented famous offshore sailor Isabelle Autissier, navigator aboard Jimmy Pahun's Région Ile de France.

Trimaran skipper Franck Cammas said: "The wind shouldn't be a problem though it might die in the middle of the race. The swell will still be pretty big especially near Bayonne. If the wind is light, it might be dangerous". The Kiwis are also concerned about this: "For the pro teams it might be all right but for the students and the amateurs it could be dangerous and therefore it might be not wise to send us. The swell will still be an issue. There could be freak waves and if someone got caught out in the middle of the night with a big wave, a boat could capsize. We're aware of that", said Kiwi skipper Pepper.

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