50 footers underway today

As the depleted fleet of the Saguenay-St-Pierre-Vendee transatlantic race sets sail down the St Lawrence

Sunday June 15th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
The first Saguenay-St-Pierre-Vendée transatlantic race starting today is the first race solely for the Open 50 monohulls and multihulls. Both classes of boats have been increasing in numbers over the last decade or so and with the 50ft monohull class now out of the Vendee Globe, the time was right, it was felt by race organisers Pen Duick, to start running events solely for them.

The logistics of this race have been far from easy. The race starts from Saguenay, a stunning tributary of the St Lawrence river to the east of Quebec. To get there a majority of the competitors have had to either sail their boats across from France or up from the Caribbean.

Of the 11 yachts signed up for the event, only seven will be taking the start line - three monohulls and four multihulls.

"We constantly had 20-30 knots of wind on the nose," recounted Anne Caseneuve, skipper of the multihull Atlantic Nature/anne-caseneuve.com. "We were forced to head further north which inevitably meant it was much colder and wetter".

Caseneuve will join the fleet for the second leg as will Pascal Quintin of Tri-Sélectif.

"We didn’t have any more time to get to the start line in the Fjord de Saguenay," explained Quintin. "It’s a real shame as this first leg is a superb course, with it grandiose backdrops, the strong currents, the whales, everything that is anything for a sailor. Too bad for us. Fortunately this withdrawal won’t stop us from aiming at ultimate glory in the Sables d’Olonne. The ranking will be part of a points system and we’re simply missing out on the first leg."

The race kicks off today at 1500 local time 2000 BST from where the boats will head off down the St Lawrence, sidestepping the logs and whales and strong currents for which the river is known, bound for the archipelago of St Pierre & Miquelon to the south of Newfoundland 667 miles away. Then the race continues on to Les Sables d'Olonne, the well known French resort from where the Vendee Globe starts and concludes.

Full course
Monohulls Designer Launched
Défi Vendéen Jean-François Durand Berret/Racoupeau 2002
Saint-Pierre & Miquelon Un Coin de France Renaud Le Youdec Berret/Racoupeau 2000
Top 50 Croisières Sportives Luc Coquelin Harle/Mavrikios 1996
Vaincre la Mucoviscidose Hervé Cléris Nigel Irens tri 1990
Gifi Dominique Demachy Eric LeRouge cat 2002
Leg 2 multihulls
Atlantic Nature/anne-caseneuve.com Anne Caseneuve Irens/MVPVLP/Houdet 2001
Tri-Sélectif Pascal Quintin Nivelt/Quintin 2002

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