Jean Luc Esplass and his crew on the Young 11, Noumea from, New Caledonia has had a great battle against Australia and New Zealand in the 2002 Aircalin Auckland to Noumea Yacht Race.
After waiting for a crew member in Auckland as long as possible, Noumea left for the start line last Saturday one down, and immediately found her closest rivals in the PHRF and ORC divisions, Redeemer 2, and Rapport, both New Zealand boats . Noumea also had a great personal desire to beat the seasoned Australian 50 footer, Drina, skippered by vastly experienced, Mike Thurston, an old rival.
This original Young 11 survived the fatal storm of the 1998 Sydey to Hobart Race so the strong conditions at the start of the race didn't phase her at all. The boat performed well for this race, with the only real hassle being one crew short.
Drina, the big green Langervern cruiser, was entered in the short handed division but still managed to be totally annoying to Noumea, who just couldn't manage to haul her in enough to get past in their final tacking duel to the home base. It appears that Drina has just cruised her way to Noumea in normal style and let the other three fight it out.
Redeemer 2, the Farr 1220 owned by Mike Malcolm and Rapport, Farr 1104, skippered by Gavin Morris, both are experienced racers. This was proven by the way they match raced past the finish line, especially when Rapport popped her spinnaker for the last 100 m enabling her to beat Redeemer 2 by half a boat length. After 984 miles of sailing a margin of 3 seconds epitomised the spirit of this race.