Kingfisher off to a good start

Leg two of the Regate de Rubicon gets underway in Lanzarote

Wednesday May 22nd 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
Positions at 0900 GMT
Pos Boat Lat Long Speed Course DTF DTL
1 Tiscali Global Challenge 31 30.76' N 10 35.64' W 9 79 1231 0
2 Kingfisher 31 29.12' N 10 38.56' W 8.8 70 1233.8 2.9
3 Sill Plein Fruit 31 30.96' N 10 42.28' W 9 58 1234.5 3.5
4 Bobst Group Armor Lux 31 20.52' N 10 36.80' W 8.8 62 1239.4 8.4
5 Virbac 31 20.24' N 10 39.96' W 8.8 60 1241.4 10.4
6 Temenos 31 10.52' N 10 46.16' W 8.9 61 1252.2 21.2

After a delayed start, the gun finally went off for the second leg of the Regata Rubicon at midday French time yesterday.

The postponement came about due to powerful 50 knot gusts sweeping the harbour entrance, but today the six remaining Open 60s taking part headed off the line on the 2,700 mile course from Yaiza, Lanzarote to Santa Margherita in Italy, where they are expected to finish this weekend.

Bernard Stamm, the Swiss skipper of Bobst Group - Armor Lux, set the tone for all before leaving the dockside: "We've got nothing to lose... We're third on the podium and three points from the leading boat, so there's everything to play for. Taking into account of the number of miles we've done and the technical problems we've had, the playing field is wide open still. It's much more comfortable with a crew - I've got 10 arms and, more importantly, five heads to think over everything!" One thing is certain - his team didn't rest up a great deal for the two days in Lanzarote, as they had to completely strip their engine after their technical setbacks in Leg 1.

At the start five of the six teams charged over the line close together, with two reefs in the main and Solent hoisted in the 25 knot NW winds. It was Kingfisher, with Australian Nick Moloney taking over skipper responsibilities from Ellen MacArthur who, got the best start, just half a boat length in front of Simone Bianchetti's Tiscali Global Challenge, and in tandem the next boats across were leg 1 winner Roland Jourdain's Sill Plein Fruit, Jean-Pierre Dick's Virbac, and Bobst Group - Armor Lux, the latter boasting only a single reef in her main.

Dominic Wavre's Temenos alone had their staysail up, and were hampered in their approach to the line by a problem with their main sheet, which left them a good two minutes behind the pack. However, the team quickly got back into the fray as the leading boats slowed up under a lighter patch of wind just a mile off the start.

Genoas were then furled as each team prepared to sail off on their first upwind tack to Papagayo point, three miles away, reaching speeds of 17-20 knots already. At this point Kingfisher was still in the lead, followed closely by Virbac, Bobst Group-Armor Lux, Temenos and Tiscali, with leg 1 winner Sill Plein Fruit uncharacteristically bringing up the rear.

This morning Tiscali is again leading (as she did in the opening stage of the first leg) flanked by Kingfisher to the south and Sill to the north .

At present the dominant weather the boats are experiencing is a static high pressure ridge situated between Madeira and Southern Spain, with a low centred off Southern Morocco. The wind was expected to back to the north west last night and blow at 10-15 knots from the northwest with a fairly choppy sea.

However the pasting is not over. The fleet are expecting 35-40 knots winds as they approach the Straits of Gibraltar.

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