The boats participating in the first running of the Atlantic Cup, the prologue to the 2003 8M World Championship have just completed a series of races over three days in ideal weather - wind, sun and a flat sea.
Marred only by French customs who showed themselves to be a little over-enthusiastic about the 8 M, with their surprise inspections of foreign competitors. A few discussions later, the crews representing nine nations pitted themselves against each other (in corrected time) on the course in the Bay of Quiberon for a truly amazing opening spectacle - a fine start for the 20 boats entered in the World Championship, whose first races will be starting tomorrow.
Wednesday 11th. An inshore course got proceedings off to a start in a mild southerly breeze. Fleur de Lys, skippered by Jacques Fauroux, current world champion held onto the lead for quite some time until a small mistake off the Quiberon bank pushed him down the rankings to fifth place. It was finally Yquem, skippered by Jean Fabre who came first ahead of Cutty-Tou.
Thursday 12th. Two windward-leeward races were held. The first was in light unstable winds, which really forced the tacticians to put their thinking caps on. The second race took place in the afternoon by which time the wind had shifted to north-west which kept the grinders busy. In the morning, Cutty-Tou, headed up by the Minos brothers, and forming part of the Sira series, kept up with the modern boats. In the afternoon, the 'old' boats - Bona, Cutty, Vision and If were on the heels of the 'modern' craft, led by Lys. In corrected time, Fleur de Lys won the morning's races, Lafayette winning the afternoon.
Friday 13th. In the final and fourth race of the Atlantic Cup, the easterly wind picked up to above 15 knots, giving these extra-powerful classics apparent wind of more than 20 knots upwind. The race was fine and held in brilliant sunshine, a glassy sea and cloudless sky. At the first start, impatient to get going, the yachts were too quick off the mark resulting in a general recall. All were on their best behaviour second time around - except five boats. If, with Peter Wilson at the helm came back and crossed the line again, but still took a 20% penalty (Z flag start procedure). Aluette, Mystery, Vision and Sphinx, were disqualified, upsetting the overall rankings. For the modern yachts, Lafayette, won again on corrected time. In the 'old' boat's class, Bona put in a fine performance ahead of Cutty. Behind, both German boats, Ayana and Sposa II, wonderfully restored are in the lead of the following pack.