Photo: Vincent Curutchet/DPPI

Russia bound

Vendee-St Peterberg race sets sail from St Gilles Croix de Vie

Sunday May 16th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

There’s no point in being too hasty… that is the moral of Aesop’s fable that the competitors aboard the three Multi50 trimarans that are favourites in the Vendee-St Peterberg must have been thinking, when they passed the final coastal mark, following today's start.

Despite of a significant difference in speed from the start line, Franck-Yves Escoffier, Yves Le Blévec and Loïc Féquet were only five minutes ahead of those chasing after them.

It was with a 10-knot westerly wind and calm seas, that at 1000 hrs GMT, Dominique Bérenger, President of the Race Committee, set the nine Multi50s off on their lengthy course. From the outset a few of the outsiders made their presence felt. Firstly, Pierre Hingant on La mer révèle nos sens, but also Anne Caseneuve on Naviguez Anne Caseneuve, rounded the first buoy ahead of the race favourites, Franck-Yves Escoffier (Crêpes Whaou! 3) and Yves Le Blévec (Actual). The latter went on the attack on a route that was closer hauled than the rest of the fleet. They were soon joined by the youngsters on Crêpes Whaou! 2, which had set off from the other end of the line. These three soon settled into a close battle, each one trying to show the other they had the edge in terms of speed…

Those chasing after them avoided playing cat and mouse and continued close to the coast, finding some slightly stronger winds. The result in the end was that the three frontrunners found themselves forced to carry out several gybes to reach the mark, while the others were able to lay the buoy more or less directly. Consequently, the three leaders got around the buoy with only a small lead over the slower boats.

The whole of the fleet then set off out to sea in search of stronger winds, before heading up towards the tip of Brittany. In terms of the forecast tThey will be facing light west to northwesterly winds with a first test for them as they make their way through the Raz du Sein tidal race, marking. After that, they will have to deal with turning the corner at Ouessant and its strong tides and commercial traffic and then on into the English Channel. Here are their first strategic choices: should they take the direct route or head up towards the British coast to find potentially more wind and speed? But that’s all for tomorrow...


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