Five knots of wind at the start building to a patchy nine knots in the afternoon, bright sunshine and temperatures topping 35 degrees, were the conditions that the 120 boat fleet faced for the first inshore race today.
The race was a slow affair with the leading Maxis taking more than two hours to sail the 17-mile course. The smaller classes of the 120 boat fleet spending closer to five hours on the course.
It was Charles DUNSTONE's Enigma of London that made the early running with a clean start, opting straight away for the right hand side of the Gulf. Always in the pressure it took more than 20 minutes for the much larger Alfa Romeo to get back to the right side of the course and into the lead on the water.
The 6-mile upwind leg took the fleet out of the Gulf of St Tropez to a buoy five miles off the Pampelonne Beach. By the weather mark, more than an hour into the race, Alfa Romeo held a slim 5-minute lead on the British boat Enigma on the water not enough on corrected time. The second leg, a close reach should have suited those boats that set Code Zero masthead headsails. The New Zealand registered Alfa Romeo made this choice and disappeared over the horizon away from the rest of fleet as those without this light weather headsail considered what might have been. Enigma chose to sail high under headsail and then set a spinnaker closer to the second mark. The third leg was again a light reach that turned into a run. At the finish of this light and slow race Neville CRICHTON's Maxi lead by more than 20 minutes, but it was Enigma¹s day whose first outing against real opposition proved highly rewarding.
Further down the fleet the day proved extremely long and frustrating as the smaller boats suffered in the light and patchy winds, not benefiting from the tall rigs of the Maxi boats. In Class One it was Stefano SPANGARO's X-Sport that lead from the start, showing the same kind of form as at the Rolex IMS Offshore Worlds in Capri last month.
Class Two, the largest class in the fleet with 41 boats and with two large One Design subdivisions (IMX 40 and Beneteau 40.7), had its own start. It was the day of the IMX 40s with Piergiorgio RAVIONI's Exploit winning Class Two, two other IMX 40s taking second and third in class.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.