First casualties in Route du Rhum

All the boats, other than the 60ft tris got away in relatively mild conditions today, not all successfully reports James Boyd

Saturday November 9th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
After a miserable few days weatherwise here in St Malo, the Route du Rhum organisers were blessed with conditions that were relatively good for November in northern Europe. Despite being heavily overcast, it was bright and despite the lumpy sea - the legacy of the strong conditions of the last few days - the wind was a relatively light 18-20 knots from the west.

The boats milled around, shore crews hoisting sails before being dumped off into RIBs and at 1335 local time the class 2 monohulls and multihulls took the start line. First across the line were Crêpes Whaou!, the 50ft trimaran of Franck-Yves Escoffier and the remarkably pacy Outremer cruising catamaran of Didier Levillain.

They were followed 10 minutes later by the class 1 monohulls - the Open 60s.

For most it was a relatively conservative start. Ellen MacArthur crossed the line first at the committee boat end on starboard with race favourite Roland Jourdain directly on her tail. But Jourdain's Sill was sailing with a larger Solent jib instead of Kingfisher's staysail and within minutes had rolled over the top of her, pointing high and footing faster.

All the boats were overreefed for the conditions - with 2-4 reefs in, prudence due to enable easy manoeuvring and with bad weather imminent.

Mike Golding put Ecover through a relatively easy start and was well behind at the start, but he was the first to tack and overhauled the rest of the fleet aside from Sill.

Already there have been mishaps, despite the relatively light conditions.

Prior to the start Yannick Bestaven on République Dominicaine had to turn back to port with a torn mainsail. Bestaven was the favourite for class two line honours in the monohulls fleet. This mantle looked set to fall onto Nick Moloney but Bestaven at 1800 local time had completed the repair of the sail and had asked the race committee to take the start line, which they agreed.

Elsewhere the rather smart Berret-Racoupeau design Défi Vendéen of Jean François Durand came entangled with a start buoy and while another Open 50, Dinan Terre d’Entreprises of Frédéric Lescot tore its genoa.

To read about the first dismasting of the race see page 2...

Positions at first turning mark off Cap Frehel, 20 miles down the course.

Boat name Skipper Time
Open 60s
Sill  Roland Jourdain 16:00:00
Ecover  Mike Golding 16:11:05
Kingfisher  Ellen MacArthur 16:15:15
Virbac  Jean-Pierre Dick 16:21:10
VMI  Sébastien Josse 16:25:20
Arcelor Dunkerque Joé Seeten 16:29:30
Temenos  Dominique Wavre 16:32:15
Garnier Belgium  Patrick de Radiguès 16:32:15
UUDS  Miranda Merron 16:35:20
L'Héautontimorouménos  Antoine Koch 16:35:50
Leasecom  Elie Canivenc 16:39:45
Millimages-Gédéon  Patrick Favre 16:57:20
Open 50s
Florys Luc Coquelin 16:44:20
Storageteck Regis Guillemot 16:49:10
Adecco Etoile Horizon Bob Escoffier 16:51:00
Ashcroft Healthcare Nick Moloney 17:09:40

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