Mourning Wilfred Tolhurst

Racers at the Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai pay tribute to Wilfred Tolhurst

Wednesday September 24th 2008, Author: Soazig Guého, Location: United Kingdom
Following yesterday’s tragic accident suffered by the 8 Metre Class Safir, the organisers of Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai paid homage to Wilfred Tolhurst, who sailed regularly at Cannes. A minute’s silence and a black flag were the focus of the morning before the Classic fleet headed for a circuit in tribute to the British sailor. The Metre and Dragon Classes also delayed their starts restricting themselves to one race each, but after a shortened course due to a big wind shift, just the dragons were able to complete their race.

The Saint Honorat monks on the Lérins Islands will hold a special mass in the monastery chapel on Thursday morning at 11:20 in memory of Wilfred Tolhurst.

All competitors were called to an 11 am briefing on Wednesday morning to run through the day’s proceedings planned in memory of Wilfred Tolhurst. Black flags to be hoisted and roses to be thrown out to sea where handed out. The Race organisers also asked that the Classic yachts also join all on the water for this act, despite not racing today.

The J Class, Shamrock, the large Classics, Spirit of Tradition such as Partridge, Tuiga, Sylvia, Kim, Moonbeam…all sailed in the Bay of the Napoule this afteroon in homage to Wilfred Tolhurst and his crew. The Tolhurst family asked that racing continue, as the skipper of Safir would have wished for it. And so the Dragons, Metre Classes, Toucans and Super Tofinou raced this afternoon (starting at 2pm).

The two 12 Metres and all the 6 Metres class enjoyed a beautiful start to the day’s racing on the Bay of Napoule. The Toucans and the Super Tofinous joined them on the upwind-downwind racecourse for the 14:18 start. Kookabura III gained the early lead in the 10 to 12 knots southeasterly breeze over Challenge Twelve in the 12 Metres who put on a perfect show match racing close on each other from the second beat upwind…in a race that would then be abandoned. The sudden wind shift saw the it veer round from the southeast to the west forcing the race committee to abandon racing for the day.

The Dragons waited for the wind to settle and pick up for their third race. The Race Committee were finally forced to hoist the black flag, indicating that any premature starters would be disqualified from the race. The liberating canon-shot came at 02:42 pm in a breeze from the Southeast of about fifteen knots. But sailing conditions became very hard. The Race Committee thus decided to shorten the course due to the fluky wind conditions. The Russian, Oleg Evdokimenko (Sasha), finished in the first position, followed by the Norwegian Jan Erik Dyvi (Finito), the Swiss Harro Kniffka (Ariston) and the formidable Dane Paul Hoj-Jensen (Danish Blue) who takes the overall lead in the provisional rankings.

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