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8 May 2001, 02:18 pm
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The Race

Weather conditions were exceptionally favourable for the start of The Race.
The starting gun was fired at 14.00 by the Mayor of Barcelona, in brilliant sunshine, a calm sea and a 20-knot west/north-westerly wind. Ideal conditions for the offset course lying just opposite the Mapfre Tower, almost 500 metres from the Olympic Harbour. A huge crowd had gathered along the whole length of the beach to see the boats sail at full speed.

The Polish boat, Warta Polpharma, the smallest one in the fleet, did a brilliant job and was the first to cross the starting line 2 seconds after the start, followed by Team Adventure, Innovation Explorer and Playstation, with Club Med following up the rear.

Team Legato, Tony Bullimore's boat did not make it to the starting line. The English skipper still had to complete his safety checks today in order to satisfy the requirements of the Race Directors. It should be pointed out that Team Legato still has to sail 150 miles to complete her qualifying sail and that she has 7 days in which to cross the starting line without being exposed to any penalty.

Later in the day Team Legato set sail in The Race this evening without Bernard Perrin, formerly Tony Bullimore's No 2. The decision has been wholly mutual but nonetheless a sad one for all concerned. They will return to Barcelona early Monday morning and cross the start line for The Race. If weather reports are any indication, Team Legato will not be at too much of a disadvantage. The five strong fleet which started at 2pm today expect to encounter up to 40 knot head winds on their way westwards to the Straits of Gibraltar which will slow their progress considerably. However, within 2 days these are expected to swing to the northwest which will give the Team Legato crew a much faster run out into the Atlantic.

by 18.00 local time, about an hour after sunset, Team Adventure had already covered 60 miles of the course. She led Club MEd by four miles while Playstation was only a mile and a half behind. Innovation Explorer was clinging to Club MEd, just half a mile away. It appeared that Warta had suffered an early mishap. Her average speed had dropped to nine knots, half the speed of her competition and she had fallen 30 miles behind the leaders.

The fleet can expect increasing wind strength overnight, building to winds close to storm strength ahead of a cold front approaching the Straits of Gibraltar.

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