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9 November 2002, 07:07 pm
The First Fleet Leaves for Guadeloupe
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Route du Rhum
Saint Malo

This afternoon at 1335 hours and 1345 hours, 39 monohulls and multihulls in Class II started the seventh Route du Rhum. A relatively quiet start in workable wind conditions despite the chop.
The wind which was blowing this morning on the pontoons calmed slightly at the beginning of the afternoon providing the soloists with a stress free start : between 18 and 20 knots of North Westerly garnished with developed chop. Aboard, the soloists were far from being fully-canvassed (between one and three reefs in the mainsail and front staystail) but more in case of safety worries than in response to the strength of the wind.

At 1335, one mile to the North of the Pointe du Grouin, the start gun was fired for the eight Class II multihulls. The fight to be first across the start line did not reveal itself : solely Franck-Yves Escoffier (Crêpes Whaou !) and Didier Levillain (Chaleur Fioul Elan) were on time. Hervé Cléris (Vaincre la Mucoviscidose) ; Patrick Morvan (Groupe France Epargne) and Pascal Quintin (E-Sat Tri Sélectif) comprised the tailing group who were overtaken by the more heavily canvassed Archipel Guadeloupe.

A great start for Ellen and Bilou

Ten minutes later, it was the turn of the multihulls to launch into the battle to escape from the Channel. From the outset, the fleet uniting Class IMOCA and Classes I, II, and III was not complete: Nicolas Peitrequin (Un autre regard for the UNCHR) remained blocked off at the quayside in an effort to resolve his stay problem, whilstYannick Bestaven (République Dominicaine) had to turn around and head into the port of Dinard after having torn his mainsail (he hopes to repair it and get back into the race tonight). Two other boats suffered some upsets: Défi Vendéen (Jean François Durand) who caught the start marker and Dinan Terre d'Entreprises (Frédéric Lescot) which tore its genoa.

Out in front, the expected battle was witnessed. Ellen MacArhur (Kingfisher) and Roland Jourdain (Sill) were neck and neck, both assuming the best starts, in the company of Nick Moloney (Ashley Healthcare) and Dominique Wavre (Temenos).

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