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23 May 2003, 02:53 pm
Leg Four
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Leg Four © Event Media

Tour de Bretagne

The life of a Figaro sailor is unrelenting...after a 90 mile overnight leg with no sleep, Davies and Westmacott were up at 0530 yesterday morning to start the next 69 mile leg of the Tour de Bretagne a la Voile at 0730 hrs.
"Another lesson learnt straight away," said Davies, "we didn't get up early enough and didn't have a good start because we weren't thinking straight."

On the pace straight away were Gildas Morvan and Bertrand Pacé racing Cercle Vert shadowing skipper Eric Drouglazet on David Oliver for practically the entire race - at the halfway stage they were just 50 seconds off the stern of Drouglazet's Figaro at the Cap Caval bouy. In the final stages of this 10 hour epic battle Morvan and Pacé stole the finish line at 1809 hrs scoring their second win of the series. This takes them to the top of the leaderboard ahead of Bostik Findley who again sailed consistently to finish in 4th place on this leg. Erwan Tabarly had a great race to finish third to put Thales in third position overall.

But the competition towards the back of the fleet is no less intense: "Even the racing amongst the dozen or so boats in the back half of the fleet is so competitive," said Westmacott, "and still really close with only a few metres separating the boats at times." On the first upwind leg SKANDIA tacked 32 times - short tacking along the cliffs gaining 4 or 5 places. "The first beat was great, we had really good upwind speed," said Davies. As the fleet sped through the Raz de Sein with the 7 knots of tide doubling their boat speed, the next section of the race was a tight reach. "As we reached across the bay we tried our spinnaker but it was too tight," said Davies. "Still we tried and found out what the limits of the spinnaker are sailing on that angle."

In the latter stages of the race the wind decreased as the fleet ran deep to keep the spinnakers full in the light airs: "We couldn't stay as low as we wanted know matter how we trimmed the spinnaker - plus we had a lump of seaweed round the keel that wouldn't come loose and there is no way you can stop a boat to free it amongst this type of fleet."

Sam's final comment as they prepare for the penultimate race of this tour: "The truth is that the more time the skippers have on the water, the closer the racing is going to get...and that is pretty hard to imagine right now."
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