Weather conditions have allowed the 2003 K-Challenge Pro-Am Cup competitors to race their first day in strong winds (15 to 20 knots, wind gusts to 30 knots), and those conditions offered them a good answer to their hopes.
But this was a day full of emotion. The Theoule-Mandelieu team managed to rescue bowman Xavier MACAIRE after he fell overboard. " After getting the spinnaker down, the sheet went under the boat. I was waiting for the right moment to get it back. At that time, I already warned my team that I was a little tired (sailing conditions were quite hard today), and when the boat met a wave that made it move, I fell out of the boat. I was trapped with my feet. I hit my head on the bow. Then I hit the keel with my back. My feet were trapped by the spinnaker in the water... Of course I swallowed a lot of salted water. I raised my arm out of the water one time, and it's on the second time that Sylvain Chtounder managed to take me out while an other crew jumped into the water to help me. "
Xavier stayed on the boat during the fourth race : " this is clear that now I have a complete different vision of this boat and of life. I absolutely have no idea about the time I spent in the water... "
(the episode only lasted 15 to 20 seconds, which seemed to be very long to him).
For the other teams, the day was a little less dangerous, but full of action. Armel Le Cleach' on Elvstrom, who was invited this year as the winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, really appreciates the level of the competition : " we did 4 good races, and we are progressing very well for a team that never sailed together before. Sensations are very different from the Figaro's ones, and the Mumm 30 is a very nice boat to sail. The level of the 5 firsts is excellent. On our side we don't really have a goal regarding the placing, we want to be the more regular as possible, and we are sure this is what will give us the best feedback ".
Thierry PEPONNET, at helm on K-Challenge 1, started to defend his title with 2 first places in the 2 first races ! John Cutler also sailed well on K-Challenge 2 with an entire new team, with Nicolas Charbonnier for the tactics. And John was quite happy about his " student ", who has been very good according to his own words, though they got eliminated in the last race : they did an early start, like Marseille-Cap Sport, so they got the famous " black flag " raised for them, that is to say those 2 teams got eliminated in the fourth race.
The weather conditions for today are forecast to be a little harder, the race committee changed the start for 11:00am. But a little more rest for the crews will be very welcomed, as they were very tired this late afternoon after this intensive racing day.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.