Vincent Riou and his Open 60 PRB team lead Calais Round Britain and Ireland Race by over 50 miles 11/6/07

Thirty-two-year-old Vincent Riou who won the Calais Round Britain and Ireland Race in 2003, has now established a solid lead in this year’s event as the fleet makes its way down the east coast of Britain.

Riou who’s spent the last week racing neck and neck with Jean Le Cam on VM Materiaux has finally pulled away and now heads the fleet by over 50 miles. But with the winds ahead forecast to abate there could be a chance for Le Cam, Jérémie Beyou (Delta Dore), Dominique Wavre (Temenos) in second, third and fourth respectively, to close the gap once again. In fact the last progress report at 0750 hours this morning indicates that Riou has already started to lose speed over Le Cam.

Riou who was yesterday weaving his way through the oil fields Scottish mainland spoke to the press office and said: “We can see the platforms really well and we’ve just had to gybe to avoid one of the rigs. Conditions are not too bad. The wind is very variable in both strength and direction and we have between 2 and 20 knots. We had just two knots for a good half hour so we’re having to weave around playing the wind rotations. We’re making lots of manoeuvres and sail changes.

“The forecasts are not favourable for the next 12 hours. We’ll have to keep an eye on what’s going on behind us as well as in front so vigilance is the order of the day. For our descent we’re planning on keeping as direct a course a possible.”

Beyou having crept up a couple of places into third place over the last couple of days on Delta Dore added: “We’re third…for the moment! It was absolutely great to see Temenos yesterday [Saturday]. We looked at her thinking ‘watch your back!’ We sailed a little higher than her and may well have had different wind. For now we’re looking ahead and working on making the boat go as fast as possible. We have 10/15 knots of wind, downwind, slipping along well on flat seas.”

With the current forecast of lighter winds the estimated time of arrival for 13 June is looking less and less likely. Wavre on Temenos in fourth says it’ll be more like 14 June or even the 15.

Dee Caffari and team, now at the tail of the fleet over 300 miles from the leader are pleased to be finally heading south and in the same direction as the rest of the fleet. Light winds ahead could give Team Aviva the perfect opportunity to gain a few miles as the leaders bunch up once again. Caffari commenting from the boat confirmed that their race is definitely not over yet: “It is easier psychologically now for us as we are heading towards the finish line and the competitors.

“The weather will be delivering some interesting parking zones along the North Sea and if these can ensnare some of the other boats that will allow us to catch up a little and reduce the distance between us. This race is definitely not over yet and we have set our spinnaker and are giving it everything to sail as fast as possible to re join the gang.”

Other British teams including Johnny Malbon and team on Artemis Ocean Racing remain in fifth spot, and Sam Davies on Roxy is in sixth – 17 miles astern.