Sunday, September 14, 2008

Trofeo Clairefontaine - Saturday 13 September

Racing was always tight and exciting to watch
TV 'chopper over Alinghi HQ
Peyron's classy move in Race 5!
Spectators on the Velas i Vents balcony
Claire Leroy chases Fernando León
Ed Baird talks to TV News after racing

Racing got under way a little later than expected today, thanks to your reporter failing to check the up-dated programme!

Conditions were perfect with blue skies and a nice 8-10 km/h breeze. The first race was an out-of-harbour race won by Loïck Peyron, with Ed Baird in second and Nicolas Charbonnier third.

The remaining races (nine in total) are being held in the America's Cup Harbour, or Marina Juan Carlos 1 as it's now known, right in front of the Velas i Vents jetty. Race 2 went to Spanish sailor Fernando León, with Peyron second and Charbonnier third.

Race three was spoilt by the noise from a TV helicopter that hovered no more than 50m above our heads, drowning out the commentary provided by Sailing One, the event organizers. Luc Dubois led around the course, followed closely by Loïck Peyron. At the final turn, Peyron showed why he has won this event no less than seven times. Seeing Dubois about to lose his wind to an approaching
boat, Peyron squeezed up for clear air and took the lead. Dubois fought back and managed to cross the line just one second ahead.

Claire Leroy who is World Women's Match-racing champion sailed an excellent race 4, leading at the final mark. In a surprise reversal of fortune, she lost out metres from the finish to Dubois, who was beginning to look a serious threat to Peyronís overall lead.

In a breathtaking display of sailing skill at the start of race 5, Loïck Peyron sailed below his slower competition until, almost touching the commentatorís box, tacked and crossed the entire fleet.

Fernando León tried a similar move in race 6 but found his way blocked. He raised both hands in disbelief when the umpires refused to issue penalties and finished a dejected 8th.

After six races, Loïck Peyron is just three points ahead of Luc Dubois, with the very consistent Nicolas Charbonnier in third. America's Cup Winner Ed Baird is tied in fourth place with León, who will be hoping to put today's disappointment out of his mind before tomorrow's final three races get under way.

It is difficult to convey just how quickly it all happens once the count-down begins. Five races had been started and finished within two hours this afternoon.

Racing starts tomorrow at 13.30 sharp. The final three races will be followed by the prizegiving at 15.00. Get there by 12.30 and you will be assured of a good viewing position.

ps Car-parking under the Velas i Vents building is free. So not only do you save yourself a walk, the car will be nice and cool when you come to drive home!

Mike O'Neill

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