Lighthouse casualties

Strong battle for first place marred by several withdrawals in Course des Phares

Wednesday May 29th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
Pos Name Lat Long Speed Course DTF DTL
1 Fujifilm 45 09.72' N 7 08.36' W 21.1 204 1688.6 0
2 Bonduelle 45 28.60' N 6 13.32' W 21.1 213 1720.4 31.8
3 Foncia 45 41.28' N 6 14.32' W 20.3 207 1735.6 47
4 Biscuits La Trinitaine - Ethypharm 46 58.32' N 4 00.40' W 14.9 228 1850.1 161.5
6 Belgacom 47 53.88' N 3 58.60' W 0 0 1897.5 208.9
7 Banque Covefi 46 57.40' N 2 31.52' W 15.7 326 1932.7 244.1
    With Franck Cammas' Groupama yesterday pulling into Lorient to check out damage to her crossbeams, the three remaining front runners in the Course des Phares were last night hurtling south towards the Tower of Hercules lighthouse off La Coruna and to give some indication of the pace the 60ft trimarans are making - the figures above are averaged over an hour... The leaders were expected to round the impressively named lighthouse in the early hours of this morning.

    Jean le Cam's Bonduelle has overhauled Alain Gautier's Foncia 2. Gautier's new boat is believed to be experiencing many technical problems such as play in the rudder in her central hull, broken mainsail hook, broken staysail halyard, etc. They are expected to make a pitstop to effect repairs.

    The boats are currently rocketing along, driven by strong northwesterly wind, but this is expected to go light as they head for the next lighthouse off Lisbon and will go round to the east for trip north from Lisbon to the Fastnet.

    Yesterday saw six multihulls make stops and also a spate of retirements. First to go was Philippe Monnet on the new Lombard design sistership to Banque Populaire, Sopra Group. "We have too many problems to solve on Sopra Group," the westabout solo round the world record holder admitted.

    Aside from the ripped mainsail on Karine Fauconnier's Sergio Tacchini, the boat has also suffered cracking around the foot of the mast. While the mainsail was rushed up to the Incidences sail loft in Brest for repair, the boats designers Nigel Irens and Benoît Cabaret were inspecting the crack.

    On consultation Fauconnier decided to withdraw from the race. "We weighed up the pros and cons with the team," she explained. "It is cleearly necessary not to compromise the rest of the programme which includes a qualifier for the Route du Rhum and singlehanded training. Making the best repairs is the priority. Of course this is very disappointing because we want to finish the race. We wish good wind and a beautiful race to the other competitors".

    Bayer CropScience also experienced problems with her sails skipper Fred le Peutric sais they had been hearing unsual noises and 'cracks'. At 1945GMT they retired.

    At around the same time Franck Cammas also retired from the race with structural problems affecting the beams of his trimaran Groupama. There has been some theorising if the cause of Cammas' beam damage are similar to those experienced by Banque Populaire and whether or not this has been caused by the extra loads placed on the structure by the new generation of foils. It must be significant that one of the significant changes made to Groupama over the winter was the addition of new curved foils. However Cammas refutes this: "According to the architects, it is the repeated shock of the waves on the arm which is the cause of the break", he explained at a press conference.

    Cammas is the current leader of the 9 Telecom ORMA Championship and failing to score in this race will send him shooting down the rankings.

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