French Skipper Eric Bruneel is 50ft Mulithull champion

French skipper, Eric Bruneel, on Trilogic has stormed to victory in the 50ft multihull division. Bruneel crossed the line at 14:23:37 GMT in a time of 14 days, 1 hour, 23 minutes and 37 seconds at an average speed of 8.32 knots.

This is a major win for Bruneel who, although, is an experienced sailor especially in dinghy catamarans, has never won an offshore solo race. Bruneel has led this division the entire length of the 2800mile course and racked up a significant 200 mile lead in the early stages which no other skipper in his class could dent.

On the tail of Bruneel saw the arrival of Marc Thiercelin, skipper of Open 60 Pro-Form. Thiercelin crossed the at 1441 GMT finishing in 14 days, 1 hour, 41 minutes and 15 seconds to finish in sixth place.

Last night saw the arrival of the final ORMA 60 competitor, French skipper, Yves Parlier on board his twin-masted, catamaran Médiatis Region Aquitaine who finished in 13 days, 7 hours, 11 minutes and 35 seconds – over four days behind the ORMA winner Michel Desjoyeax.

Further southeast, an Open 60 regatta is developing between Norbert Sedlacek (Austria One) in ninth place and Frenchwoman, Karen Leibovici (Atlantica-Charentes Maritimes) with Charles Hedrich (Objectif 3) just 17 miles behind the pair. This trio are spread only 80 miles west/east with Sedlacek still 567 miles from the finish line. An almost identical, class leadership margin is held by Kip Stone and Artforms in the 50ft monohulls; Stone has 270 miles to race and a lead of 231 miles over Jacques Bouchacourt on Okami. Bouchacourt and Joe Harris, on third place Wells Fargo-American Pioneer, are only 46 miles apart in terms of DTF (Distance To Finish), but in reality – Harris remains on the same latitude as the finish line, while Bouchacourt heads SW, 46 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Two boats are still labouring through The Grand Banks; Anne Liardet on Open 60, Quiksilver Edition, is beating into the western extremity of the fishing area, handicapped by a broken boom. Further east, Roger Langevin on 50ft monohull, Branec III, is watchful for the “immense and silent fishing vessels” that lurk in the thick fog of The Banks. Both the French skippers will be highly aware that they must cross the finish line by 04:18:08 GMT this Sunday (20/06/04) – exactly seven days after the finish of 60ft monohull class winner, Mike Golding on Ecover – to officially complete The Transat 2004. It is imperative that Liardet average just over 120 miles each day and Langevin must squeeze a little over 155 miles a day from Branec III, for the pair to finish the race.