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10 October 2005, 12:12 pm
End Of Racing In France
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Les Voiles De Saint-Tropez 2005
St. Tropez, France

Comfortably in the lead in the IRC-A tables, Linsay OWEN JONES on Orlanda simply had to sail his own race on Saturday and leave the two runners-up, Roel PIEPER on Favonius and James CARROLL on Black Dragon free to go for broke whenever the opportunity might arise.
The two Challengers duly obliged in the first fast reach across the Gulf of Saint Tropez under a north northwest wind. Black Dragon, in the shadow of the ultra fast and ultra powerful Mari-Cha was the first to anticipate the strange cone of windless calm situated off Les Issambres, right on the course towards the Lion de Mer buoy. With a man posted in the mast, the big black Reichel-Pugh design began a frantic series of tacks through the flat calm, soon imitated by the Farr 70 Atalanta II.

Finding the best trim and the best balance for the boat meant that crews were for ever changing position, now on the foredeck, now to one side, taking with them the heavy bags of sails. And while the giants Velsheda and Mari Cha were struggling to get free of the light airs, CARROLL and his crew found the north easterly breeze coming down from the Estérel and were able to accelerate towards Fréjus. Favonius and Peter DE RIDDER's Mean Machine had broken off the engagement long before, seeking more wind out at sea. A pretty 15 minutes of match racing with the nervous tension invariably provoked by light winds, then a sudden acceleration, reaching under the fresh breeze from the summits. As time went by Aeolius totally deserted the area, forcing the race committee to reduce the course and establish the finish line at the entrance to the Gulf. The unbeatable Mari Cha with her stiff handicap was first, but Atalanta II made the best of the situation by heading Favonius despite the latter's fast return leg.

First to cross this new line in IRC Class C, Franck NOËL of the SN Genève put the finishing touch to a week of success: his Grand Soleil 42 won five races out of five starts.

The Wallys too alternated moments of unalloyed pleasure on the windy parts of the course with the grey depression of the coastal calms. Alberto ROEMERS' Alexia made the best start and kept the lead right through to the finish. The big white Wally brought her week in St. Tropez to a triumphant conclusion with a third victory. Tiketitan and Gireal GALEAZZO climbed to second overall thanks to their excellent second place on Saturday.

Leopoldo GAVITO with Sébastien AUDIGANE as navigator promised a final fling on Saturday, and kept their word as their Swan 45 AY! AY! AY! won the day's round ahead of Jacques BUREAU's Magician and Bella Donna. So right to the end they challenged the dominant position of Marco SALVI and Vertigo.

One last parade in the bay and in the sunshine for the Tradition category. After Sainte-Maxime it was spinnakers all round in the north easterly. The upwind leg to the Moutte buoy and the Cap de Saint Tropez in light airs put the crews through an exhausting series of sail changes, asymmetrical spinnakers giving way to big gennakers, jibs and flying jibs. Very much at home in these conditions of variable wind force and direction, Cambria quickly overhauled the small gaff-rigged boats that had started first from Portalet. In the lee of Shamrock V the big Fife boat found the shortest course from mark to mark, with the ketch Agneta glued to her counter, but keeping Tuiga and Moonbeam at a respectful distance.

In the Paneraï Classic Yacht Challenge, where racing in St, Tropez completed the fifth stage of the event Outlaw took victory in the Classic category with Cholita coming top in the Vintage category.

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