Panther score a shocker

Isabelle Musy reports on today's 94 mile race in the opening stages of the Tour Voile

Sunday June 30th 2002, Author: Isabelle Musy, Location: France

The Royal Thames entry beat Panther today

It was another day of close racing between the 40 Mumm 30s today off Dunkerque's beach.

The differing results show that several teams are capable of winning this event and that the suspense is likely to last until the very end of this one-month regatta. Consistency will be the key to obtaining good results in the Tour de France à la Voile.

Nantes St-Nazaire retain their overall leader's red spinnaker but today victory went to other boats. Professional team Dieppe Seine Maritime, skippered by 470 former world champion Gildas Philippe, won the first race of the day, a windward/leeward. The regular Swiss cometitors on Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention, skippered by Etienne David, came home in first place after the10 mile coastal race. Having had a reasonable start they proceeded to work their way up the fleet on the first beat to lead the rest of the boats in the procession around the course.

"We're very happy because we managed to get reasonably good results without taking too many risks, especially at the starts. We had our good boat speed back, though we're not performing to our full potential yet," said Etienne David. " Nantes-St-Nazaire and us are the two boats that probably sailed the most this year and therefore we probably refined our boat handling quicker. But I wouldn't burry Région Ile de France or Panther Team GBR yet as it is only the beginning of the regatta. The Brits showed inconsistency before but they can be really good and Jimmy Pahun has a good team for offshore races."

Unfortunately Panther: Team GBR scored a shocker today. The Brits finished in a very disappointing 34th position in the first race and in 21st in the coastal race. "We basically went on the wrong side of the first shift of each race, then we didn't get clear air downwind. We had a bad day!" commented skipper Rob Greenhalgh.

Howver the amateur entry Royal Thames skippered by Owen Modral had a good day finishing in 11th and 10th place. "We're happy. We're slowly improving and getting a hang on it. I think there are areas in our sailing that are really good and a few areas in which we make mistakes. We hope to improve these", said Modral. "The main tactic was the tide and staying in the channel."

Force EDC, skippered by Australian Simon Sutherland, came in 16th in the first race but managed to finish the coastal race in 8th position ahead of the threatening Cap Université St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, current leader in the student class. It was a good day for the team Force EDC who climbed up to 6th place overall.

"We had a good start in the second race. We rounded the top mark in 6th then we had a good run and rounded the bottom mark in 4th, but we had some problems sorting out which way the tide was going on the last beat and lost a few places", explains Simon Sutherland. "Racing is pretty good. We'll have to work hard to beat Cap Université. They seem to be the student team to beat at the moment. Now we have to get the crew ready for tomorrow's 94-mile upwind race in 25 knots wind."

There was some drama out on the water today with some strong gusts playing havoc with the fleet. Two boats abandoned the first race after encountering breakages. In the second race, student boat Groupe Dassault-X-ESCP-EAP skippered by Marc Le Pesqueux, dismasted. The girls on Nantes-St-Nazaire au féminin also pulled out in the second race.

Tomorrow morning, the fleet are due to leave Dunkerque at 8:00 and sail to Dieppe on the first 94-mile offshore race, although the forecast suggests a postponement is likely.

For full results click here

More photos on page two...

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