Bad weather has forced a postponement of the 94-mile offshore race. Weather permitting, the race should start this morning

The 40 teams participating in the Tour de France à la Voile 2002 are chomping at the bit to start the first offshore race. The 94-mile race from Dunkerque to Dieppe was scheduled to start yesterday morning but bad weather conditions has forced a postponement.

The boats will now leave the quay at 6:00 and then, if the conditions are good enough, there will be a start off Dunkerque at 7:30. “Otherwise, they will motor the boats for a while and start off Boulogne-sur-mer once they have passed a dangerous part of the coast, the Cape Gris-Nez”, explains René Boulaire race committee director. In that narrow passage, the wind is always 5-10 knots stronger and the sea is really rough. As the BMS (gale warning) has been maintained until midday, it is more likely that they will start the race off Boulogne-sur-mer. Most of the sailors understand the race committee decision though they’re “We’re pleased to hear there is going to be a race. It is a shame it will be 24 hours late,” said Rob Greenhalgh, skipper of Panther Team GBR. “I’m not really sure what the coast is like and what are the conditions out there. Therefore, I have to take their words for truth.” commented Simon Sutherland. Mike Broughton, the navigator of Panther Team GBR, commented on the coming leg: “It will all depend where and at what time the race starts. The first third of the race is the interesting part with the tide to work out. It could be fun but hard work as the wind funnels so much in the channel near Cape Nez-Gris.”

Former Vendée Globe sailor, Joe Seeten is from Dunkerque and thinks the race committee took a wise decision: “It would be dangerous to go out there with Mumm 30s. Especially near Cape Nez-Gris. It is a long regatta, it would be a shame to have several boat dismasting during the first offshore race.”