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Class 40s in the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale - Start

by Jerry Freeman, SORC 1 Nov 2010 10:30 GMT 31 October 2010

Sam Manuard led 43 of the Class Quarantes around the first mark of the course close under the cliffs at Cape Frehel where 50,000 specators had gathered to watch the sport, the mark was layed about 16 miles due west from the start off St Malo. Manuard was very closely followed by Troussel, Grimont, Beauvais, Ruyant, Bouchard, Guillemot,De La Motte, Stamm and Coatnoan, his fast trajectory approaching the Cape paid handsomely, with speeds over 9knots against the flat earthers doing 6kt such asYvan Noblet who lost out badly on the direct course despite good pace at the start.The racers with recent regatta experience showed their skills, with concentration in the very light going and sailing at faster angles.

The minute by minute update on the tracker provided some excitement as occasionally boats not pinged were missed in the ranking.

The light breeze, 4 to 8 knots was from the East with all boats on starboard gybe heading offshore after the mark.

Marco Nannini rounded at about 16.15 and immediately accelerated to the 9 knot pace after a conservative direct route to the mark, five places behind Pete Goss but just ahead of Richard Tolkien in Orca and Conrad Coleman in 40 Degrees. Rune Aasbeg( RBI winner) in Solo was showing as the best 'etrangier' about 20th at the first mark

The excellent live TV webcast ceased after a couple of hours and the rapid refresh tracking saw most of the fleet clear of the first mark, suddenly we seem to be deprived of live data with old fashioned 2 or 3 hourly up dates ! How fast things change in this sport.

The Class 40s expected to have less than 24 hrs to get out of the English Channel(130 miles) before the wind went into the west and south west on Monday afternoon and all the boats made it safely. 2006 winner Phil Sharp reckons that the southern route is still open and we may see the fleet split when the decision is made. Wimps like me would go south to avoid 5 days bashing to windward and anticipate a days rest off Spain on Wednesday when they park up in the high pressure? The tough guys will tack on to port and head for Newfoundland at 7 knots!

Class 40 is demonstrating the closest racing and the much discussed forecast of 35 knots from the north west has faded to a brief northerly as the gale blew itself out in south Biscay.

The first ranking published when the web site came back on line at 19.00 showed the Class 40 favourites establishing the correct pecking order with Nicholas Troussel leading Sam Manuard and Thierry Bouchard, but only 2 miles covered the first 10 boats who were all sailing west under spinnaker in excess of 10 knots in a light 8 to 10 knot breeze from the NE.

It was a very long night at the helm with the big spi set and lots of shipping to negotiate, the swell from the west made keeping the spi trimmed on edge very tricky, the wind increased to 20 knots in the early hours, calling for a change down to fractional spi and perhaps one reef, before backing and easing to 8 knots again from the North west by first light. Bernard Stamm has the lead at the close of the first 24 hours ahead of Thomas Ruyant while Sam Manuard leads the Northern pack and Trousell leads the southern group, all close reaching under whites in 10 to 12knots from the NW. Peter Goss has held his position in the mid 20's ranking about 25 miles behind the leader while Richard Tolkien made a great charge in the early hours to get up to 18th, Rune took a flyer to the west and is now paying for it as he drops to 30th.

The shelf edge is approaching with its fishing fleets and whales to add to the hazards of shipping.

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