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18 July 2002, 01:22 pm
Drama in the Final Day Of Atlantic Racing
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Tour de France a la Voile

The final day's racing in the Atlantic took place today with two races being sailed, a windward leeward and a coastal race. The race conditions were medium airs and a flat sea state, creating good conditions for the last days sailing.
The first race took three starts to get away with 14 boats in total being disqualified Within these boats all but one of the foreign boats, Royal Thames, was disqualified. Nantes Saint-Nazaire was the only boat in the top three overall not to get disqualified, which means that they managed to score particularly easy points, that will mean that they can extend their lead on the fleet a little more and retain the red spinnaker.

The first race was dominated by Défi Partage, skippered by Thierry Bouchard who led the fleet for the whole course and who had established a substantial lead by the finish. This achievement is further welcomed as they were sailing with two mentally handicapped people onboard. The whole idea of this campaign is to promote integration of mentally handicapped people into sport. "It was a nice day with a medium breeze. We're all really happy to have snatched our first victory in the first race. We're pleased to be 4th overall but don't get too excited about it. I think we have to remember that the aim was to finish in the top ten. If we finish in the top five, it'd be a great achievement", commented Former 470 world champion, Benoît Petit who was driving Défi Partagé.

British amateur boat Royal Thames, skippered by Owen Modral, finished in joint 9th place with Cassis-Mauguio Carnon, after having lost a place with a poor spinnaker hoist. Cassis-Mauguio Carnon were joined today by Italy's Vasco Vascotto, who took over the helm from Vincent Portugal. Vascotto previous experience includes holding the title of Mumm 30 world champion last year and winning the Pro Am cup in 2001. With this experience the boats are expecting great things and today's indication shows that they certainly have the potential to finish in the top ten. The Italian helm commented on today's sailing "We did not sail well today. We finished in 9th when we could have finished in 3r". It's the second time Vasco Vascotto is participating in the Tour de France à la Voile: "It's one of the best event. Good racing with even boats. Next year, I want to come with my own team. Mostly Italian but with some good French guys as well who have the local knowledge, especially in the Atlantic. We were going to have an Italian team this year, but our sponsor pulled out at the last minute", added the Italian champion.

The coastal race of 7 miles took the fleet down to Biarritz where they rounded the first buoy. A particularly mixed fleet rounded the mark, being led by student boat Cap Université Saint Quentin en Yvelines, a potential threat to Aussie skippered boat Force EDC who at present are leading the student division. Cap Université Saint Quentin en Yvelines, helmed by Jean-Marie Gout managed to hold onto this lead to finish in first place, hotly followed by Ville de Genève - Carrefour Prévention, skippered by Etienne David.

Apart from Royal Thames, who had pretty good results with a 9th and 8th, the rest of the foreign boats had a less convincing days racing. Force EDC had a bad day with a disqualification and an 18th. Panther Team GBR, skippered by Rob Greenhalgh and helmed by Ian Barker, also had a disqualification and then managed to finish the coastal in 10th.

Tonight, the boats will begin to be craned out in order to be towed tomorrow to St-Cyprien, the first stopover in the Mediterranean. This will give a chance for the sailors to recuperate from a most gruelling two and half weeks racing.

Isabelle Musy/News Editor
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