Jim Allen and team aboard Pindar win Leg 1 of the Challenge Transat 5/9/06

With just 43 minutes separating the two yachts after almost 3,000 miles of racing, the Challenge Transat came to a nail-biting conclusion in Marblehead in Massachusetts on Sunday with Pindar holding on to a slender lead to win Leg One of the race.

Chatting at the finish Jim Allen skipper of Pindar commented: “We are elated and ecstatic, and very glad to be here. There have been highs and lows of the race. The biggest low was definitely floating backwards in the Gulf Stream towards the UK. We’ve had everything wind wise from 30 knots to nothing. In fact every time we approached a waypoint the breeze would die off and Spencer Dock would catch up to us as we converged on the mark.

“We’ve had a fantastic time, this is a really good crew. It’s been good sailing and a huge achievement. They have improved amazingly – coming in today we did sail changes and spinnaker launches and they were really switched on. With Spencer Dock just six miles behind us, all of my crew gave 110 per cent to try and hold them off.”

Skipper of Spencer Dock, Stewart Richardson was gracious in defeat adding: “Ten minutes ago when we got in, I was very tired, but the arrival has buoyed me up. We are really glad to be here, it was quite a tough race. There were some people who thought that because it was less yachts it would be a lesser race. In actual fact it’s about 10 times harder. There was only 43 minutes difference between the yachts at the end, so you have to be on it all day every day. It’s a lot more stressful than racing a fleet!”

He is however, looking forward to race two and the rematch: “I certainly am looking forward to Leg 2. However, downwind sailing can be more demanding, I guess I won’t be sleeping much! One part of me thinks it’s going to be incredible and the other part of me just wants to get everyone home safely. There’s a level of stress onboard a racing yacht that you just can’t imagine unless you do it – think about driving down the motorway at night at full speed with your lights off, and you get some idea of what it feels like!”

The yachts are berthed in Marblehead in Massachusetts, where the crews are the honoured guests of the Corinthian Yacht Club. After the prize giving most of the crew will depart and be replaced by the crews for Leg 2 of the race which starts on 16 September.