Peyron into the lead

After first eight race of the Clairefontaine Trophy

Friday September 5th 2003, Author: Isabelle Musy, Location: France
Loïck Peyron and Ellen MacArthur have dominated today's Rhodia warm-up races prior to the Trophee Clairefontaine. This is a race series in one design catamarans for 'sailing stars'.

Today's races were compulsory and were used for training but are not counted in the overall points and comprised eight 'runs' in the harbour of La Trinité-sur-Mer. The aim of the Rhodia regatta was to allow the public to experience the show. People, standing on the quay at La Trinite were able to admire their yachting heroes racing virtually at their feet.

Experience paid for the defending champion, Loïck Peyron, who snatched three victories and ended up top of the leaderboard. Peyron and his two crew know these boats and the waters like no one else.

Ellen MacArthur was also most impressive winning three races. Today's light air conditions perfectly suited Ellen and her crew (who she sailed with on Alain Gautier's trimaran Foncia) Philippe Péché and Nicolas Bérenger. "We're the lightest crew among all so for us, it's better when the wind is not too strong!" said MacArthur before the races. This obviously paid off.

Switzerland's Laurent Bourgnon is sailing with the Ravussin brothers and performed well winning two races. A penalty in the fourth run as they were leading cost them many places. They finished in the fifth place after this first day of racing.

Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux, who won this event in 2001, sailed very consistently to claim third place overall, just ahead of Roland Jourdain who also showed a good potential at the helm of the Sailing One one-design 25ft catamaran.

Match-racing master Bertrand Pacé started well with a third place in the first race but then sailed in the middle of the pack. Highly motivated for this event, 'little Bert' (as he is known in France) has far from said his last word at this event.

Bernard Stamm suffered from a lack of multihull experience, but the Swiss Around Alone skipper is on a steep learning curve and will, with no doubt, improve in the next few days.

For his first participation in this event and due to his lack of experience at the helm of small boats, Ernesto Bertarelli did not expect to score great results. The Team Alinghi are here to learn and should be more comfortable in heavier breeze. Just like Bernard Stamm, they should keep on improving as the weekend goes on.

The standard of the fleet is high and it promises some very good racing on Saturday and Sunday.

Tomorrow's programme will include three long distance races towards Houat isle and another run in the afternoon.

Rhodia warm up results:

1 - Loïck Peyron 61 pts
2 -Ellen MacArthur, 57 pts;
3 -Michel Desjoyeaux, 47 pts;
4 -Roland Jourdain, 42 pts;
5 -Laurent Bourgnon, 41 pts;
6-Bertrand Pacé, 26 pts;
7-Bernard Stamm, 20 pts;
8-Ernesto Bertarelli, 17 pts.

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