En route to Bayonne

The final Atlantic offshore leg of the Tour Voile commenced this morning

Monday July 15th 2002, Author: Isabelle Musy, Location: France
The last Atlantic offshore race, a 165-miles to Bayonne, started this morning at 08:36 just off La Rochelle. The 40 Mumm 30s got off to a clear start in a northeasterly breeze of 10-12 knots.

At the windward mark, Thierry Bouchard's Defi Partagé was in the lead ahead of the all female-crew of Nantes-St-Nazaire au feminine. The overall leader's red spinnaker of Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention rounded the mark in 8th.

Later on, at the passing mark, Royan that is 37 miles away from the start, student boat Force EDC skippered by Australia's Simon Sutherland had got in the lead. Etienne David's crew had dropped to 22nd. Pierre Loïc Berthet's Nantes-St-Nazaire, second overall, was in sixth while Jimmy Pahun's Région Ile de France passed the mark in 16th position.

The two British boats Panther Team GBR and Royal Thames were 23rd and 24th respectively.

The fleet was making quick progress at a speed of 10 knots. The first boats are expected to pass a mark off Arcachon sometime between 18:00 and 19:00. The estimated time of arrival in Bayonne is between midnight and 2am tonight.

The crews were most happy this morning on the docks with the perspective of eventually hoisting the spinnaker during an offshore race. Before the start, some sailors commented on the forthcoming leg: "It looks pretty good. It should be downwind all the way. Therefore, we are trying to make the boat as light as possible with the minimum amount of food and water. It will be important to have a good start. It should not be really tactical", commented Simon Sutherland, skipper of Force EDC.

"It will be important to play well the little wind shift this morning and in the evening. We'll have to position ourselves well in order to get maximum speed. It will get technical as during the night as the wind is expected to increase up to 20-25 knots", said Isabelle Autissier, navigator on board Région Ile de France.

"We're expecting a bit of a wind shift this morning introducing a sea breeze. Then we should have good wind all the way down with the kite up. It will be tactical at the start and off Bordeaux," said Rob Greenhalgh, skipper of Panther Team GBR.

"We're looking forward to a downwind spinnaker slay ride. The start will be very important as well as rounding the Antioche rock with the interaction between gradiant breeze and sea breeze. Playing the two will be tactical," added Mike Broughton, Panther Team GBR's navigator.

"It will be light as we're getting to shore so we'll have some interesting night fighting," said American Larry Rosenfeld, navigator on board amateur boat Royal Thames.

Today's race is a grade 3 coefficient race, which means that there are a lot of points at stake.

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