Absolutely glorious weather reigned over the Bay of Quiberon as the 20 yachts raced the closing round of the World Championship this morning.
Five minutes after the start of the seventh and last race, the overcast skies gave way to brilliant sunshine and a steady light 6 to 8 knot breeze blew in from the east.
As soon as the last race had got underway, Vision (Sira series) crossed the lien too early and had to come back and cross it once again. She never managed to make her way back up with the leaders of her category. Cutty Tou won ahead of Bona. At the end of this 7th and final round, Bona sailed to victory in the Coupe Cartier 2003.
In the Modern category, the French boat Fleur de Lys and overall leader, pulled too far over to the right hand side of the course in the first beat to windward allowing Yquem, Aluette, Lafayette and Mystery escape. The Swiss Yquem managed to hold onto the lead and finished first, in fornt of her compatriot Aluette. Fleur de Lys crossed the line in third place.
With the exception of Vision of Sabago who had crossed the line before the starting shot had been fired set out too early, the favourites held the places of honour in this last race. Following up the rear, lying in ninth and tenth place, the two magnificent varnished 8 metres - the Finnish Sphinx and the German Sposa II - put in a fine performance in this championship which fulfilled its promises thanks to exceptional weather and a top notch line-up. The wind enabled a quality sporting organisation to be maintained (orchestrated by the Société Nautique de la Trinité sur Mer), indispensable at this level of competition. Throughout the six days of this summit meeting, the race committee demonstrated great clairvoyance in its decisions, largely due to its knowledge of the course and local meteorological phenomena.
Once again, Fleur de Lys , who was here to defend her 2002 title, is World Champion of the 8M International Class. Only the Swiss Gefion and Yquem, were able to restrain her somewhat in her triumphal march to victory by winning a race each. This takes nothing away from the superb performance put in by Jacques Fauroux, helmsman on Fleur de Lys, a yacht which is not that much faster than her closest opponents, but helmed with masterly skill. The Championship crew has trained every Thursday since the month of January off the coast of Cannes. Which is no doubt one of the reasons which explains the supremacy of Jacques Fauroux, architect and helmsman of the boat, which he sails with his two sons, Nicolas (naval architect, mainsheet) and Bruno (bowman, in charge of spinnaker manoeuvres). Jean-Luc Durosne on the runner (hauls in the genoa sheet), together with Isabelle Rinsoz. Pitman (controlling the halyards) is Yves Desprès. Fleur de Lys belongs to Gaston Schmatz, who also owns the 8M France. Fleur de Lys was built by the Caparros yard in Antibes and has a keel with winglets and sails by North.
The other winner of this 2003 Championship, the winner of the Sira Cup as well as the Coupe Cartier, is the amazing Italian yacht Bona. Built and designed in 1934 by the Baglietto yard, she was renovated and very cleverly optimised with a great deal of skill in 2000 at the Mario Lavazza yard, on Lake Maggiore. The builder's son was part of the crew for this championship. Driven by 8M professionals, Giovanni Mogna, a racing yachtsman who generally sails on Lake Maggiore was at the helm of this old yacht, with her superb Hood sails.
Behind these two winners, are the Modern yachts, Yquem who often troubled Fleur de Lys, pushing her as hard as they could. But others were also in their wake, Lafayette, Gefion, Aluette, and the Canadian yacht Mystery who all finish very close together indeed.
In the Sira Cup, Bona's consistent performances paid off, but not without the odd worry now and again. Cutty Tou and Vision of Sebago were often seen carrying out lightning attacks. Among the very old boats in the fleet, the fine varnished hull of Sposa II was greatly admired, and the boat finished fourth in the Sira category.
The Coupe Cartier covers six yachts this year, is won by Bona who is streaks ahead of her fellow competitors. Today she will receive the silver trophy created by the famous French jeweller in 1998, today being a day specially devoted to Cartier, one of the sponsors of the World Championship. This cup is intended to encourage the 8M to be identical, in order to preserve their original characteristics.
Full and final results are available on the class website at the address below.