Light airs greeted competitors for the start of the first Mediterranean offshore race in the Tour de France a la Voile yesterday

As the 40 Mumm 30s left the docks in St-Cyprien yesterday morning at 0700 for the start of the first Mediterranean offshore race in the Tour de France a la Voile, the mist was back and there was no wind. Therefore the race committee decided to start motoring until decent racing conditions were found. The gun eventually fired at 1336 only 30 miles away from the finish in Sète.

The fleet started in very light airs and it took the boats about an hour to make it to the top mark. Ville d’Antibes NEC, now skippered by former 49er sailor Marc Audineau, got into the lead after the start and were still in front ahead of Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention at the rounding mark off Gruissan, 27 miles away from the finish.

According to most sailors on the docks this morning, this 56-mile race between St-Cyprien and Sète was most likely going to be a laborious one. “Its probably going to be a long and slow race as there is not much wind forecast. Whether it’s going to be tactical or not depends on how fickle the wind will be. If it is light and fickle, anything can happen. Positions could dramatically change within a few minutes. You can find yourself in a hole with not possibility to reposition yourself”, said the Swiss skipper Etienne David.

Marc Guessard, navigator onboard overall leading boat Nantes-St-Nazaire, who is originally from Montpellier, commented on the mist that prevented the previous day’s racing and that came up again yesterday morning: “It’s the first time in my life that I’ve seen that in the Med. We’ve asked ourselves where that comes from. It’s apparently due to the unusually cold temperature of the waters after last week’s really strong winds. The humid mass of air coming upon that cold water seems to saturate and therefore create that fog. Therefore, I think that we will have very light airs for this race.”

Italy’s Vasco Vascotto, who is now steering Cassis-Maugio Carnon predicted some changes in the leading pack compared to the races in the Atlantic: “It could be a very interesting race. It will be the first raced with light wind and therefore we could see some news boats going a little bit faster and some former leading boats not as fast anymore. As far as we’re concerned we quite back in the ranking so we need some good results.” At the passing mark of Gruissan, Cassis Maugio Carnon was in fifth position. The results so far, have Ville d’Antibes-NEC leading and Région Ile de France and Nantes-St-Nazaire not doing so well, this seems to prove the Italian champion’s feelings are right.