yw.com's Sue Pelling takes the helm with Andrew Wood, in the Prologue race to the Demi-clé 6,50 17/5/07

Today top British sailor Andrew Wood and editor of yachtingworld.com, Sue Pelling blasted round the cans off Lorient in the Prologue race to the Open Demi-clé 6,50 that starts tomorrow Friday 18 May.

The Demi-clé 6,50 is a 200nm double-handed race from Locmiquelic (Lorient) to Douarnenez and is one of the key events in the Mini Transat calendar this year. Andrew Wood has already secured an entry in this race to Brazil, but is using the Open Demi-clé 6,50 as a practice run for the big event. ( see news story here )

With winds of 17 knots, gusting to 20 knots – today’s race was a real challenge for the duo in the Rogers-designed prototype Domosofa.com, as Sue Pelling exclaimed after helming; “it was a baptism of fire!”

Only around 20 out of the 70 entries in the Demi-clé took part in the Prologue race, including race favourite Yves Le-Blevec and crew Nicholas Raynard on their boat Actual. Other hot contenders for the race are French sailors, David Sineau on Bretagne Lapin, Isabelle Magois with David Reson on Voilerie Quantum, Thomas Valentin on Samba, Mathieu Assanas on Metalco-ville de Balaruc Les Bains and Australian Tom Braidwood with Nick Bubb on his boat Wombat. Wood and Pelling are the only British competitors.

Sue Pelling reports: “We had an amazing start. We went really well up the first beat and were about fifth when we went around the windward mark.”

Le-Blevec’s expertise as crew on Bruno Peyron’s record-breaking Orange II shone through as Actual rounded the first mark in second, and powered to the lead which they maintained to the finish line.

On the downwind run Domosofa.com hoisted their medium spinnaker with one reef in. Pelling said: “Up to the leeward mark, we had to sail low to avoid the boat in front who had dropped their spinnaker in the water – that lost us two to three places.”

Domosofa.com picked up the pace until Wood and Pelling realised there was a problem with the mast – which was inverting. Pelling reports: “Unfortunately three quarters of the race through we had to retire to work out what the problem was with the mast.”

Commenting on the race Pelling said: “I feel a lot better that we went out there before we do the Demi-clé tomorrow. It was good to sort out a few teething problems.”

In a 21-foot long boat there won’t be much room to move once Domosofa.com is offshore. Pelling says she has to do the limbo to get down below, and has to avoid standing on the keel sock.

Sue Pelling spoke to winner Le-Blevec who said they had a great race. As well as Wood and Pelling, Le-Blevec and Raynard have jobs to do to get the boat ready for the off tomorrow, particularly as conditions are expected to be similar to today, meaning a 200-mile race upwind.

The race starts tomorrow midday, with the fleet heading out at 0900. Unfortunately it does not allow communications on the boat so stay tuned for a post-report from yachtingworld.com’s Sue Pelling on the double-handed Open Demi-clé 6,50.