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27 April 2004, 03:34 pm
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© François Mousis

Transat AG2R
Lorient - St. Barts

Sam DAVIES (GBR) has had a successful weekend in this highly competitive Figaro class. Sam, who is 6 days into the first of the Figaro events of the season still has 3,000 miles to go but results are encouraging.
As Sam commented prior to the start, "The first to get through the light winds of the Bay of Biscay could well get a big advantage."

With the delayed start causing race officials to cancel the stopover in Madeira, this will be the longest non-stop Figaro race in the class's history something that has been a challenge to the girls from the outset, "We are well prepared, feel confident with the boat and ourselves and really want to sail - no matter what the course is! I wanted to see Madeira because I never have been there before, but that is the only disadvantage in my eyes. A longer course is maybe a better challenge, and we can't wait!"

So far in the race the girls have implemented the tactics they had discussed prior to the event - within 12 hours of crossing the start line they had stepped up from their planned conservative start to join the front runners of the fleet in 7th position.

"We are trying to play safe and stay on the favoured tack to cap finistere, but the big question is on the high pressure that is coming in our direction and how to get quickly through it. Difficult!"

But it was not until Saturday morning the girls really came into their own after the decision to split from the pack and choose a more westerly route. "We took the westerly option last night as we rounded Cape Finistere, and chose to stay well offshore as we felt that there would be much less wind under the Cape, and we were afraid of getting stuck. It was a hard decision to make because most of our "pack" of boats decided to stay inshore and we split from the fleet, which is risky in this class."

Now, as the fleet continue their race along the Iberian coast, the first gaps begin to show between the boats. Sam and Jeanne are close on the tail of current leaders Cercle Vert (Gildas MORVAN and Dominic VITTET), with only 6 miles between them, but distances between the boats behind them begins to increase. In the early hours of Sunday morning the crews found a little more breeze off the coast of Lisbon - those taking a more westerly route, including Sam, gaining more favourable conditions.

"It is a shame to lose first place, but we are concentrating on the overall race, we still have a very long way to go and feel happy where we are. It is good to have such a good boat (Figaro Banque Populaire) so close to us to keep us motivated to sail 100% at all times!"

Full positions are available on the event website at the address below.
Offshore Challenges (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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