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Everyone back out at sea!

This Sunday, with the exception of Georges Kick (529 – Black Mamba), the most senior member of the fleet, whose boat was driven onto the coast last night at the entrance to the port of Ribadeo, all the competitors are back out on the water. Those who opted to take shelter to let a very active front roll through offshore of Cape Finisterre yesterday evening are now racing again. The last skipper to take refuge on land yesterday afternoon, but also the first to cast off at around 03:00 hours this morning, Austrian Christian Kargl (980 – All Hands on Deck) optimised the timing of his stopover to perfection. He is now in hot pursuit of the gutsy German Melwin Fink (920 – SignForCom), along with the bulk of the peloton, though he’s all too aware that the deficits lamented in La Palma between the first and last boats are bound to be significant. This is true for the production boats and especially the prototypes. The reason for this is that the four escapees at the front of the fleet are expected to cross the finish line this Monday afternoon between 11:00 and 15:00 hours French time.

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The daring and temerity of Melwin Fink have paid off. Indeed, unlike all his adversaries in the production boat fleet, the German sailor made the gamble of taking last night’s weather system head on and has pulled it off. Despite bracing conditions (up to 35-40 knots in the gusts), he managed to continue his course southwards without any major issues. This Sunday, he’s making good his escape at the latitude of Lisbon with a lead of between 150 and 200 miles over the main peloton and, barring damage, looks set to take the win in the first leg of the Mini Transat EuroChef with a cushion of at least 24 hours over his rivals. According to the latest routing, he should make landfall in Santa Cruz de La Palma on Thursday, whilst the bulk of his pursuers are due in from Friday afternoon. Quite a feat then for the skipper of the Pogo 3 in the colours of SingForCom.

A heist for Fink, a blinder for Kargl

It’s a similar scenario for Christian Kargl, albeit it for different reasons. The Austrian, who like 82 other sailors in the event, took the decision to put his race on hold to leave time for the worst of the front to roll through, fully reaped the benefits of his stopover. The skipper of All Hands on Deck extended his course so he could take shelter in the port of Viana do Castelo, whilst his rivals opted for ports in Galicia from yesterday morning. Better still, he was the first to get going again at around 03:00 hours this Sunday, whilst the others preferred to wait for first light – or even later – before they too hit the road again. In this way, the sailors on stand-by in La Coruña and Portosín set sail once more at around 05:00 hours. Those who stopped off in Muxía left port at 07:00 hours, like those moored in Baiona, whilst those in Camariñas waited until 10:30 hours to head out to sea. As a result, the Austrian skipper is now in second position in his category with a bonus of 65 miles in relation to third placed Julie Simon (963 – Dynamips). It’s worth noting that the latter ranks among the group of 22 sailors who made a stopover in Baiona. Having made this choice collectively, this same group were keen to maintain a certain sporting equity. As such, those who were furthest ahead in terms of distance to the goal before the severe weather warning was announced, were the first to set sail again today, in order and with the exact same deficits between one another.

Who will snatch victory in the prototype category tomorrow in Santa Cruz de La Palma?

It’s game on again then right across the board, including among the prototypes and one Piers Copham (791 – Voiles des Anges). In fact, the Briton, who clearly had to contend with the worst of the weather yesterday with an average of 43 knots, gusting to 50, is currently lying in 5th position in his category. His progress over 24 hours has been somewhat dulled in the current conditions, which would suggest there may be some battle wounds, but he’s seemingly back on the warpath now. At the front of the fleet, there’s still a fierce battle underway between Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Tollec MP/Pogo) and Pierre Le Roy (1019 – TeamWork). Now at the latitude of Madeira, the two leaders have been constantly jockeying for position, but since yesterday evening the former skipper, from the Finisterre, seems to have the edge again. After lamenting a deficit of up to 45 miles in relation to his adversary, Tanguy is currently leading the way, with a 17-mile lead over second place. With less than 24 hours to go till the finish, will this be enough for him to secure the win? Nothing is less certain because around the island of La Palma, the wind may stall, so the last few miles may not be all that simple. The verdict is expected between 11:00 and 15:00 hours tomorrow so place your bets!

Georges Kick’s driven onto the coast

The most important thing to take from Sunday is the serious misfortune that has befallen Georges Kick. The boat skippered by the retired doctor-anaesthetist and the most senior sailor in this 23rd edition was driven onto a lee shore last night as he was trying to make the port of Ribadeo to avoid the havoc created at Cape Ortegal. A port whose entrance is renowned for being dangerous in bad weather, this was sadly confirmed to the bitter disappointment of the skipper of Black Mamba, which promptly ran aground with the damage clearly fairly extensive.

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