Victory to Fauconnier
The race organisers delayed the start to see how the sea breeze (from the southeast) would affect the wind direction. At the start everyone was over with the exception of Giovanni Soldini's TIM and Lionel Lemonchois' Gitana X. Soldini was leading in a blaze of glory only for the race committee to abandon the race due to a massive wind shift.
The race was restarted but unfortunately Soldini was not to repeat his dry run and was forced to return to port with broken battens in TIM's mainsail.
Sergio Tacchini and Sodebo got off to the best start locking out Groupama. The question remained - which side of the course would pay. Banque Populaire risked the left, while Sergio Tacchini stuck to the middle with Geant with the others out to the right hand side of the course. Philippe Monnet back at the helm of Sopra Group was going well until the head of his boat's genoa's exploded forcing him to retire.
At the top mark Sergio Tacchini led from Lalou Roucayrol's Banque Populaire, followed by Sodebo, Géant and Banque Covefi and then Gitana who crossed in front of Groupama!
On the run Sergio Tacchini, Banque Populaire and Banque Covefi opted for the inshore course, but this proved definitely the slower side of the course allowing Sobedo and Géant into the lead. The final beat saw Thomas Coville seeking to control Michel Desjoyeaux and Karine Fauconnier covering Franck Cammas in two simultaneous match races allowing Lalou Roucayrol back into the game.
Sergio Tacchini pulled back to round the top mark first ahead of Cammas and then Roucayrol and the Italian sponsored boat was able to hold on to the lead until the finish.
With a mere three point lead over Franck Cammas' Groupama going into the final race, it was still entirely possible it could all go wrong for Karine Fauconnier and the Sergio Tacchini team. The prospect of maintain a lead of Franck Cammas is daunting - to date this season he has won both the grand prix in Lorient and the Challenge Mondial Assistance.
At the outset of the final race it was not looking good. Groupama got off to her normal impeccable start with Sergio Tacchini in fifth. Thankfully Géant and Banque Populaire were locked in a private battle for fourth place allowing Sergio Tacchini to slip through and take third place behind Groupama and Sodebo.
As they crossed the line it was an esctatic crew on Sergio Tacchini. They had won the grand prix by just one point ahead of Cammas and Groupama. For Fauconnier it is her first win in the 60ft trimaran circuit since she joined it 18 months ago. (To read more about why Sergio Tacchini won - see our interview with crewman Damian Foxall on Friday).
With her new sails and top crew, it will be interesting to see if Sergio Tacchini can maintain this form come the Marseilles Grand Prix on 4-6 July.
Lower down the rankings, Thomas Coville would have done between were it not for a disappointing seventh place in race three following an individual recall. Geant meanwhile was missing a foil, while Banque Populaire prefers waves and more breeze.
Despite some good starts by skipper Steve Ravussin, Banque Covefi was suffering from being more than 10 years old and for being one of the heaviest boats in the class, while Soldini's TIM does not normally take part in the ORMA circuit and is out of practise compared to the other boats. After his stint in jail for drink driving, Philippe Monnet had only returned to take back the helm of Sopra Group from Laurent Bourgnon a few days before the regatta, while Gitana, is still showing a surprising lack of pace for a boat so hi-tech.
Cagliari Grand Prix - final results
1- Karine Fauconnier (Sergio Tacchini) 1+1+2+2+2+1+3 = 12 points
2- Franck Cammas (Groupama) 3+2+1+3+1+2+1 = 13 points
3- Thomas Coville (Sodebo) 2+3+7+1+4+3+2 = 22 points
4- Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) 5+5+3+4+3+5+4 = 29 points
5- Lalou Roucayrol (Banque Populaire) 4+4+5+5+5+4+5 = 32 points
6- Stève Ravussin (Banque Covefi) 6+6+4+7+6++6+6 = 41 points
7- Giovanni Soldini (TIM) 7+7+6+6+7+10+10 = 53 points
8- Lionel Lemonchois (Gitana) 9+8+9+9+9+7+7 = 58 points
9- Philippe Monnet (Sopra Group) 8+9+8+8+8+10+10 = 61 points
2003 ORMA championship - overall after three races
1 - Groupama (0+0+2) = 2 points
2- Banque Populaire (4+6+5) = 15 points
3- Géant (2+12+4) = 18 points
4- Sodebo (5+15+3) = 23 points
5- Sergio Tacchini (13+18+0) = 35 points
6- Banque Covefi (9+21+6) = 36 points
7- Belgacom (3+39+DNS) = 54 points
8ex- Sopra Group (10+39+9) = 58 points
8ex- Gitana (11+39+8) = 58 points
8ex- Foncia (7+39+DNS) = 58 points
11- Bayer CropScience (8+39+DNS) = 59 points