Light airs dogged the Bandol/Port Grimaud offshore race and fickle shifts often turned the fleet inside out


The fleet of Mumm 30s taking part in this year’s Tour Voile 2000, were finally given the start gun for their offshore race from Bandol to Port Grimaud at 15:05 yesterday after having motored for some 23 miles of the proposed 58 mile course.

The first start in the Bay of Hyeres, near the island of Porquerolles, was subject to a general recall, but the boats finally got away in 5-8 knots of southerly breeze, with four boats being subject to an individual recall.

The first mark, a mile away from the start, was rounded first by British entry “Easy Oars”, followed by “Region Ile de France”, “Nantes-St. Nazaire”, and “Mauguio Carnon”, with Barlo Plastics, helmed by Tim Powell going round in 5th place. “Marseille 2000” skippered by Alain Fedensieu was 26th.

The Mediterranean lived up to it’s reputation of tricky winds, the fleet battling with light, fickle and sometimes non-existent breeze as they progressed slowly towards Port Grimaud, with their boat speed occasionally dropping to zero.

The positions on the racecourse changed constantly as the wind died and then built and then died again. Barlo Plastics found themselves leading the fleet two or three times, only to find other boats unexpectedly and suddenly taking their position. The British boat sailed intelligently, with Stuart Childerley helming in the light winds and made the most of what breeze there was.

The Race Committee had to finally admit defeat and shorten the course, setting the finish line near Tourelle de la Moute, 6 miles from Port Grimaud. “Easy Oars” grabbed what was left of the land breeze and crossed the finish line in first place at a little after 00:34 this morning. “Belvedere” had made good ground inshore and followed “Easy Oars across the line 3 minutes later. Adrian Stead and his team on Barlo Plastics took third place. Barlo Plastics’ nearest rivals “Marseille 2000” finished 14th, and “Region Ile de France”, skippered by Jimmy Pahun finished 10th.

“This is the first time that we have managed to extend our points lead to over 50 points, and naturally we are very happy about that. We still have 2 inshores and 2 offshore races left, but we are in a very commanding position, but also aware that anything can happen”, said Adrian Stead after the race.