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25 July 2002, 04:12 pm
Marseille|s Mistral Leads Panther Team GBR to Victory
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Tour de France a la Voile

The Mistral came overnight in Marseille and was wreaking havoc with the fleet yesterday.

These strong conditions seem to suite the Brits as Panther Team GBR scored their first victory. Royal Thames came home in 6th and Force EDC in 12th.

As the wind increased to 40 knots, the race committee decided to abandon racing after the first race that saw many breakages.

The boats left the docks at 10:00 this morning and the gun fired at 11:26 in really rough sea and a 25 knots Mistral (northerly). The race was an impressive spectacle in the beautiful bay of Marseille with its stunning scenery.

Rob Greenhalgh and his crew got in the lead in the first beat, rounded the top mark in first and kept increasing the gap with the rest of the fleet.

"We had great fun. We were quick upwind and better than the rest downwind. We managed to pull out a large lead that gave us a cushion as we capsized towards the end. Luckily so did all the other boats and we had such a large lead that it did not matter. I guess we are just more used to the conditions than the others, the others are just a bit soft"

It was also a good race for amateur boat Royal Thames, skippered by Owen Modral, who came home in sixth position.

"Windy, great, wicked, good fun. We have a great team and sailed well. We were a bit behind but came through by sailing sensibly and fast".

Student leading boat Force EDC, skippered by Australia's Simon Sutherland, also felt comfortable in these strong Mistral conditions. The team comprises of Aussies, Brits and Dutch finished in 12th position.

"We had a disappointing start. We were fast up wind and lightning downwind, which enabled us to catch up 10 places. We were in a good position then 100m from the finish we broached and many boats passed us. Saying that the windy conditions suit us and we hope that it is windy tomorrow as we know we are better than many of the other student teams".

As far as the top three boats are concerned, today's results have changed the positions once again. Overall leader Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention, skippered by Etienne David finished in 7th while their closest rival Pierre-Loïc Berthet's Nantes-St-Nazaire finished in 5th. Therefore the Swiss dropped to second place and the team from Nantes reclaimed the red spinnaker. Jimmy Pahun's Région Ile de France came in third and narrowed the gap with the top two.

Today's only race saw some drama with seven boats abandoning due to breakages.

The forecast is for the wind to increase even more tonight and tomorrow. Therefore, the start of the offshore race to Hyères, scheduled at 06:00 tomorrow will most likely be delayed.

Overall results

1. Nantes-St-Nazaire / Pierre Loïc Berthet 1494
2. Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention / Etienne David 1492,25
3. Région Ile de France / Jimmy Pahun 1474,5
4. Défi Partagé / Thierry Bouchard 1334,25
5. Ville d'Antibes -NEC / Marc Audineau 1325,5

Isabelle Musy/News Editor
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