La Promesse claims first leg

Jerry Freeman reports on the outbound leg of the Azores and Back Race

Friday June 17th 2011, Author: Jerry Freeman, Location: United Kingdom

Probably the fastest 40 footer in the world, La Promesse, won the first leg of AZAB in a near record time of 6 days 03 hours when Dutch solo sailor Jan-Kees Lampe crossed the line at Ponte Delgada in St Miguel.

La Promesse has taken line honours no less than four times on this classic 1200 mile sprint from Falmouth to Ponte Delgada in the Azores, but this was her fastest time yet helped by some strong north westerlies and a new secret weapon as Jan Kees described it: "I sailed the entire leg down to the island on a starboard tack with full main and during the first one and a half day my Code Zero of 80sqm. On the second day I made 287nm in 24 hours. But I have to admit that I had this tennis ball in my stomach for most of the time. When the wind had picked up to a level I thought was to much for the Code Zero I had a terrible fight with the thing to get it furled. Even after I had bought a brand new Karver furler with a larger diameter, I heard myself shouting to the goddamned sail; "Who's the boss here? You can play tricks on me but you'll lose in the end! Bastard!"

The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club has attracted a very experienced international field of ocean racers to this tenth edition of the Azores and Back race, second boat home was Frenchman Pierre-Yves Chatelain in his new 45 footer Destination Calais, closely followed by another Dutch Ostar veteran Nico Budel in his Class 40 Hayai, both boats are Marc Lombard designs. Rob Craigie also an OSTAR class winner, sailing the J/122 Jbellino took second in class 4 and second overall on IRC racing two handed with Charles Allen. Weather guru Chris Tibbs sailed a near perfect great circle in his J/105 Taika to win Class 3.

Conditions were very favourable for the front runners with a north westerly breeze over the first four days until a nasty cold front turned the fetch into a beat that became a stiff test for the bulk of the fleet with gusts over 35 knots and big seas. The calms around the volcanic island trapped many of the boats that had been eagerly anticipating a cold beer in the evening only to be rewarded with a late breakfast or even lunch. The pain was eased by the hospitality of the very friendly hosts at the Clube Naval de Ponte Delgarda.

The return leg to Falmouth starts at 13.00 on Tuesday 21 June.

Result, first leg Class 4 IRC; 1 La Promesse, 2 Jbellino, 3 Jammy Dodger, 4 Destination Calais, 5 Ding Dong.

Result, first leg Class 3 IRC; 1 Taika , 2 Elixir, 3 Truant , 4 Comedy of Errors, 5 Fan Fan.

Result, first leg Class 2 IRC; 1 Tamarind, 2 Vela Fresca, 3 Growler, 4 Slippery K, 5 Whistledown III

Result, first leg Class 1 IRC; 1 Franglais, 2 Strategem,

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