The race from Cherbourg-Octeville proved to be a long and tiring upwind leg…

The fleet of the 40 Mumm 30’s participating in the Tour de France à la Voile 2002 left Dunkerque on Wednesday at 1715 and were expected in Cherbourg last night after the 187-mile race. The 20 knot south-westerly breeze continued to head the fleet for much of the race.

Région Ile de France, Marseille, Kenzo, Nantes-St-Nazaire and Force EDC held onto the lead with the rest of the fleet following close behind in what was a very tight and intensive race in the Channel.

There were questions raised about British boat Panther Team GBR. She had been in the lead, battling for first position, but was not been seen by the race committee at one of the course’s mark that all the boats are supposed to pass close by.

At one stage during the night, the westerly wind veered to the north-west for a while. That wind shift gave a chance to Marseille skippered Dimitri Deruelle and to Mar Thiercelin’s Kenzo to get back into the race as they weren’t in the top ten at the first couple of course’s marks.

“We have a very good navigator that made us pass to windward of the fleet which got us into the lead. We’re also lucky to have three helmsmen onboard and therefore we can take turns and have some rest. The rest of the crew try to rest while leaning out of the boat”, explained Pierre Pennec, one of the helmsmen.

The same explanation comes from Marc Thiercelin onboard Kenzo. “We anticipated that wind shift to the right and therefore we favoured the right of the course”, explained the former Vendée Globe skipper. “We’re really tired and are impatient to get to Cherbourg”, added Marc Thiercelin.

The provisional results are now in and we can reveal that Jimmy Pahun snatched victory in the first 187-mile offshore race from Dunkerque to Cherbourg. His boat Région Ile de France crossed the finish line at 24:02:40 only two minutes ahead of Nantes-St-Nazaire, skippered by Pierre Loïc Berthet. British boat Panther Team GBR of Rob Greenhalgh came home in third but for the moment this result is not being counted as they failed to pass a mark “Antifer”. There is jury hearing scheduled for today at 1300. Therefore, Marseille skippered by Dimitri Deruelle, who came in forth, is provisionally third. Student boat Force EDC skippered by Australia’s Simon Sutherland had a very good race and managed to finish in sixth. Owen Modral’s Royal Thames came 22nd. After such a long and demanding first offshore leg it was remarkable that the fleet managed to finish in such a tight pack.

Provisional Race 5 results

1. Région Ile de France / Jimmy Pahun

2. Nantes-St-Nazaire / Pierre Loïc Berthet

3. Marseille / Dimitri Deruelle

4. Ville de Genève Carrfour Prévention / Etienne David

5. Kenzo / Marc Thiercelin

6. Force EDC / Simon Sutherland

7. Cassis Maugio Carnon Bernard Mallaret

22nd. Royal Thames / Owen Modral