Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's all about the setting...

© Jacques Vapillon :
Istanbul Europa Race It's all about the setting,

The Istanbul Europa Race crews are about to race a very different third leg in relation to that which has gone before. The long hours spent waiting for the wind to pick up are over. This last stage is bound to be tough, aggressive even, as weapons are drawn. Everyone is very much looking forward to the final confrontation between Barcelona and Brest.

With at least 1,450 miles of predominantly upwind conditions to go, or as much as 1,900 if the fleet is ordered to bend their course around the Fastnet rock at the south-west tip of Ireland, this last decisive leg will certainly have both the competitors and the public on tenterhooks. The teams who have been struggling in light winds will really be counting on these conditions to demonstrate the potential of their boats. The others will be working on keeping hold of their lead, and maybe even trying to stick the knife in deeper still.

Adios Barcelona, bonjour Brest. The Istanbul Europa Race competitors have now left the Catalonian coasts where they have enjoyed the amazing welcome of the Spanish hosts and seen at first hand how much the Barcelona World Race means to everyone there. Some of them were already aware of the Spanish expertise in this matter, having raced the first edition of the Barcelona World Race, while others were only just discovering it. With the outstanding facilities and considerable developments in international communication, the organisers, led by the F.N.O.B (Fundacio Navegacio Oceànica Barcelona), benefited from the Istanbul Europa Race stopover to present the 2010 edition of the Barcelona World Race.
For IMOCA, this stopover was also an opportunity to remind the public of the role played by the city of Barcelona in the development of the Class. With a strategy based on watersports, the capital of Catalonia is putting its energy into developing such activities on a local level. They are achieving this by promoting young talent and supporting the Spanish sailors involved in the big ocean racing events such as the 6.50 Mini Transat or the Barcelona World Race. Four Spanish crews have already confirmed their entry in the latter. Judging from the performance of Guillermo Altadill and his crew in the Istanbul Europa Race, we can well imagine that they won't be there to do walk-on parts.

While Barcelona was being soaked by the storms of the Mediterranean, Brest was getting ready to welcome the competitors in glorious sunshine, which is a welcome reversal of form. However, aside from the weather, the people of Brest have shown on many occasions what great hosts they are. In the new Port du Chateau at the foot of the Amirauté, the competitors will be able to discover the new facilities built to host the big ocean racing events that the city yearns to welcome to its waters. As the organiser of one of the biggest tall ship gatherings in Europe and host to the great round the world records, Brest will definitely make the most of this opportunity to demonstrate its expertise once again. -