Surprise winner

After day one of Cagliari 60ft trimaran grand prix, reports James Boyd

Friday June 13th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Italy
Despite having little in the way of form to date, the first day of the Cagliari Grand Prix for the 60ft trimarans was won Karine Fauconnier's Nigel Irens design Sergio Tacchini.

Her Italian fashion label sponsor are using the event as a major exercise in corporate entertainment, so Fauconnier has pulled out all the stops in an attempt to impress them in this the only Italian regatta on the ORMA circuit.

Her work has paid off as Sergio Tacchini won the first two races today and came second in the third.

"I guess it's the accumulation of two years working on the boat," crewman Damian Foxall told The Daily Sail. "It takes a long time on these boats to bring them up to a certain level, so when you are trying to play catch up with teams like Fujicolor that has been running for 10 years it is nice to see the fruition of all that work."

Fauconnier's team have benefitted from the destruction of their boat's sistership Fujicolor during last November in the Route du Rhum. Peyron is now concentrating on his new America's Cup campaign with Bertrand Pace [which when it comes to fruition will include vital training - on a new 60ft trimaran]. They have bought Fuji's set of grand prix sails with which Peyron won Grand Prix last year at ?? and ??. Equally important is that they have inherited Peyron's sailmaker and former Fuji crewman Jean-Baptiste Levaillon.

"Jean-Baptiste is one of the most experienced multihull sailors around," said Foxall. "It's been a great education having him on board considering he has 10 years worth of experience sailing on Fuji."

Foxall admitted that the sails had made a great difference to their performance. However improvements had also been made to the boat during her re-construction over the winter (the boat was nearly destroyed in the Route du Rhum like Fuji)

"From the outset the basic concept was to take the best things that were reliable from Fuji like the canting mast and being able to rake the mast fore and aft," says Foxall. "We didn't immediately go for a pick-up rudder in the centre hull [although they have one now]" Their daggerboard is still a straightforward up and down affair and doesn't cant or have a trim tab like many of the other new boats.

"The general concept of the project is to keep in-house innovation down to a minimum, work on the reliability of the boat and spend more time sailing than in the boatyard," says Foxall. "That basic idea has paid quite well and would have done in the Route du Rhum had Karine not been caught out when she came through the front off Portugal."

It is also helping having, for the first time, a truly top notch crew.

Aside from Foxall, Fauconnier and Levallion and three or four of their reguar crew, top French match racer Luc Pillot is calling tactics and there are several members of the French America's Cup team on board.

Conditions today Foxall said were typical with a sea breeze kicking in at noon and dying by 6 (they are further offshore than the Tornado who are racing just around the corner) and "absolutely flat water". Cagliari lies in a dip between the hills so the sea breeze tends to be very steady.

The right hand side of the course paid all day and the boats were all working to get the committee boat end of the start line from where they could tack early. On board Sergio Tacchini Foxall said they had achieved this in the first race and had managed to squeeze through to leeward in the second.

The top contenders they are up against are Groupama, Sobedo, Banque Populaire and Geant. "It was close racing," said Foxall. "Any mistakes and you paid straight away."

In the final race today three boats Groupama, Geant and Banque Populaire port tacked the fleet. Sergio Tacchini rounded the top mark in fourth, but was able to pull back to second behind race favourite Groupama.

Results after three races

1- Karine Fauconnier (Sergio Tacchini) 1+1+2 = 4 points
2- Franck Cammas (Groupama) 3+2+1 = 6 points
3- Thomas Coville (Sodebo) 2+3+7 = 12 points
4ex- Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) 5+5+3 =13 points
4ex- Lalou Roucayrol (Banque Populaire) 4+4+5 = 13 points
6- Stève Ravussin (Banque Covefi) 6+6+4 = 16 points
7- Giovanni Soldini (TIM) 7+7+6 = 20 points
8- Philippe Monnet (Sopra Group) 8+9+8 = 25 points
9- Lionel Lemonchois (Gitana) 9+8+9 = 26 points

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