Panther off the pace
Today's winners - Nantes St Nazaire
Everyone was wondering whether Rob Greenhalgh's Panther Team: GBR was going to produce the same exuberant style of sailing as they did yesterday, during the non-point scoring prologue which they easily won. Some of the competitors feared that the Brits would dominate this Tour de France à la Voile 2002 as Adrian Stead's Barlo Plastics did in 2000. But others were questioning the Brits consistency.
After today's first two races here in Dunkerque, it looks like it will be very fierce and tight racing throughout this regatta and that the final results will be very difficult to predict. Nevertheless, the other favourites showed good form. Pierre-Loic Berthet's Nantes-St-Nazaire was very impressive as they snatched victory in both the first two scoriung legs of the 25th Tour de France à la Voile.
The 40 teams were obviously eager to start. After a long postponement due to shifting conditions, that made it difficult for the race committee to set up the start line, the first gun resulted in a general recall. The second start was black flagged.
Except for Jimmy Pahun's Région Ile de France and Bernard Mallaret's Cassis Maugio Carnon, most of the favourites favoured the pin end of the line. A call that proved to be right. The Swiss on Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention rounded the top mark in first place with Panther Team GBR in fourth place ahead of Antibes-NEC. Jimmy Pahun rounded the buoy in 22nd position with Bernard Mallaret following up the rear.
The shifting winds played a few tricks during the first run and the second beat. At the rounding of the third mark, Pierre Loic Berthet's Nantes St-Nazaire had got into the lead, the Swiss had dropped to 7th position and the Brits had climbed up to second. After that, Nantes-St-Nazaire managed to retain the lead and snatched victory in the first race of the 25th Tour de France à la Voile. Panther Team GBR came home in fourth as Marc Thiercelin's Kenzo and the students of Cap Université St-Quentin en Yvelines passed them on the last run.
Australian Simon Sutherland and his Force EDC team comprising of Brits, Aussies, and Dutch produced good sailing and finish the first race in fifth.
The amateur British Team Royal Thames of Owen Modral had an average first day coming home 14th.
In the second race of the day, Nantes St-Nazaire confirmed their status as race favourites by grabbing another victory. Ville de Genève Carrefour came in second place ahead of Cap Université St-Quentin en Yvelines. But Panther Team GBR finished in a disappointing 12th position with Royal Thames in 17th.
On Sunday, there will be a windward/leeward race followed by a costal race along the beach of Malo Les Bains.
For full results click here
More pics on the following pages...