Vendée – St-Petersburg Racers Nearing Finish Of Leg 1

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Vendee To St. Petersburg (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee -

Vendee To St. Petersburg (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendée Saint Petersbourg)

 

Less than 150 miles to go. Next to nothing for these machines capable of speeding along at an average speed of twenty knots. That is all that faces the two multihulls which have been leading this first leg since the start. In which order will they finish? Between Crêpes Whaou 3 ! and Actual, the gap has remained so small, that no one is willing to make any forecasts. Behind them, the wind, which has finally freshened, is enabling the pack to close the gap a little bit, which means we can look forward to a fight in the return leg…
They may not be spending their holidays together but these two just seem to want to stick together out on the water. Yesterday evening the gap between Franck-Yves Escoffier and Yves Le Blévec widened to more than twenty miles for the first time in the race. But that was only to last as long as a night in the far north of Europe… A few hours later, the green trimaran was back up with her all-red rival. The only thing we can be sure of is that on Monday we are to see the conclusion of this first act. Franck-Yves Escoffier, used to clear wins, remains fully determined in spite of his cheerful disposition. Yves Le Blévec is only dreaming of one thing and that is achieving his first win. We cannot question the motivation of each of the two crews, who are vying for victory. It is all likely to be done to a few little details: a puff of air that someone picks up, a little more experience of multihull sailing for one, a slight advantage in a breeze for the other…Who knows? Whatever happens, between these two competitors history is being made, just as each time two close rivals battle it out for the finish and show utter respect for the other. There’s likely to be a lot of lively discussions in the bar in Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club.

The gang of four

While third place is most likely to go to Loïc Féquet and his mates, unless there is a major upset on board Crêpes Whaou ! 2, the battle is raging for fourth place, and honour is at stake for the older multihulls. While we had imagined a duel between Pierre Hingant’s crew (La mer révèle nos sens) and Anne Caseneuve’s (Croisières Anne Caseneuve), two other competitors are now fighting over the remains of the feast: Lalou Roucayrol (Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc) has continued to assert the qualities of his multihull, when the breeze gets up. He has now given us proof of that by entering this battle for fourth place, after being more than fifty miles behind yesterday at the same time. In his wake, Erwan Le Roux (FenêtréA Cardinal) wants to show too that they still have that talent and determination. Erwan has just achieved two consecutive wins, as a tactician in the Tour de France Sailing Race, one of the most demanding crewed events in the European circuit, and it was certainly not luck that enabled him to do that. As for Hervé Cléris (CLM) he is not so far back and can still hope for them all to bunch up as he aims for fifth place. Only the  c r e w   o f   ÀR 2   f r e e l y   a d m i t s   t h a t   t h e y   a r e   o u t   o f   t h i s   f i g h t :   f o r   E t i e n n e   H o c h é d é   a n d   h i s   c r e w m e n ,   t h e y   a r e   j u s t   l o o k i n g   f o r w a r d   t o   b e   a b l e   t o   t a k e   p a r t   i n   t h e   P a r a d e   o f   V e s s e l s   i n   f r o n t   o f   t h e   P e t e r   a n d   P a u l   f o r t r e s s .   T h i s   i s   n o t   d o w n   t o   a   l a c k   o f   a m b i t i o n   b u t   m o r e   a   q u e s t i o n   o f   g e t t i n g   t h i n g s   i n t o   p e r s p e c t i v e   a n d   b e i n g   r e a l i s t i c   a n d   a l s o   m a k i n g   a   w i s e   c h o i c e .  
 F r o m   t h e   b o a t s :
 E t i e n n e   H o c h é d é   ( ÀR 2 )
    W e   a r e   d u e   t o   p a s s   t h e   E u r o p e   B r i d g e   f o u r   o r   f i v e   h o u r s   f r o m   n o w .   W e  r e   m o v i n g   a l o n g   n i c e l y   d o i n g   1 4 – 1 5   k n o t s . It’s not very warm on board the boat, as aluminium is not a good insulator and with the sea temperature down to around 8-9°… The end of this voyage is likely to be faster and we should see the full potential of our old boat. As soon as the wind freshens, she rises up on her foils and can start to achieve great speeds. But in light airs… I had thought of taking off the foils as they have slowed us down so much up until now.”
Franck-Yves Escoffier (Crêpes Whaou 3 !)
“What was destined to happen is happening. We thought we had got ourselves a good lead last night and there you go, Actual is coming back at us again. This is going to be the umpteenth time we have found ourselves racing together. It all starts again with everything to play for. We’re determined to lead the way right up to the finishing line. We’ve been enjoying some exceptional moments: it was a fantastic night as we sailed along at twenty knots on smooth seas. Up here, night only lasts for a couple of hours. Yesterday there was a crescent moon. The moonlight, semi-darkness and clear skies… One of those moments that we’ll never forget, as it was so magical… For the finish, we’ll see. We’ve got a joker up our sleeve with Antoine (Koch) on board. He has just completed the transatlantic race from Concarneau – St-Barts, and is still hot and also an excellent navigator…”
Yves Le Blévec (Actual)
« Franck-Yves is a nice fellow: he always says nice things about you, but that isn’t stopping him from going that bit faster! For the moment, he still has the advantage. We’re going to try to keep fighting right up to the end. We took turns in getting some rest to be able to think clearly about this final stretch. We know that the slightest mistake could cost us a lot, so we want to be in good shape for these final miles. The race is fascinating and we’re also discovering some magnificent landscapes; our only regret is that we can’t stop.”
Reminder

ETA for the first two boatsThe ETA is now between 0400 and 0500 hrs GMT. A radio session with the winners is planned for 1000hrs GMT.  (You have to add on six hours of sailing to get from the finishing line to the pontoon in St-Petersburg).
Rankings at 1400hrs GMT
– 1 Crêpes Whaou ! 3 (FY Escoffier) 147.7 miles from the finish
– 2 Actual (Y Le Blévec) 6.1 miles from the leader
– 3 Crêpes Whaou ! 2 (L Féquet) 291.3 miles from the leader
– 4 Naviguez Anne Caseneuve (A Caseneuve) 403.8 miles from the leader
– 5 La mer révèle nos sens (P Hingant) 422.4 miles from the leader
– 6 Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc (L Roucayrol) 433.4 miles from the leader
– 7 FenêtréA-Cardinal (E Le Roux) 439.1 miles from the leader
– 8 CLM (H Cléris) 456.5 miles from the leader
– 9

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