Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vendée – St-Petersburg Heading south

Farewell to St-Petersburg. It was at 2019hrs local time that the fleet of nine Multis50s set sail off Kronstadt Island, which marks the entrance to the city. Sunshine and light airs are due to accompany the sailors for the first stretch out into the Gulf of Finland, before the wind freshens in the Baltic .

The stopover in St-Petersburg will certainly have left its mark on the Multi 50 sailors. Very different from the classic destinations on the other side of the Atlantic, the competitors were able to discover here a culture stretching back over the centuries, a people undergoing a transformation and an incomparable architecture, considered to be among the most beautiful in the world. They were able to sail on the Neva, discover the bewildering charms of the white nights, strolling in the maze of streets of this city with its four million inhabitants, but which still manages to keep its provincial air. Philippe de Villiers, President of the Vendée Council, who came along to thank his Russian hosts, has already announced there will be another edition of the race in four years time, so the sailors know they will be back again. The memories are now behind them, as they are now focusing on returning to the south.

Uncertain atmospheric conditions

In theory, they can look forward to some great speeds during the first days of racing as they make their way across the Baltic, pushed along by a strong east-north-easterly wind. The passage through the Oresund, where they will probably have to tack upwind, looks rather more complicated. As for the North Sea, it is currently under the influence of a north-westerly air stream, which is set to fade away leaving unreliable light airs behind. So it is likely we will be watching a race with many different episodes, where the frontrunners one day may well see their advantage melt away, and where there will be a number of weather hurdles to deal with. Whatever happens, taking into account the fleet’s performance on the voyage up to St. Petersburg in what were after all very unfavourable conditions, it is highly likely that we can look forward to a faster reference time… And who knows? Maybe the first boats will finish in Saint-Gilles Croix de Vie next weekend.

Reminder: rankings of the first leg between St-Gilles Croix-de-Vie and St-Petersburg
- 1 Crêpes Whaou ! 3 (FY Escoffier) finished on 24th May at 05h31mn49s GMT
- 2 Actual (Y Le Blévec) finished on 24th May at 05h33mn04s
- 3 Crêpes Whaou ! 2 (L Féquet) finished on 24th May at 22H08mn00s
- 4 Région Aquitaine Port-Médoc (L Roucayrol) finished on 26th May at 09h32’10s
- 5 FenêtréA-Cardinal (E Le Roux) finished on 26th May at 10h37’50’’
- 6 Naviguez Anne Caseneuve (A Caseneuve) finished on 26th May at 10h49’26’’
- 7 La mer révèle nos sens (P Hingant) finished on 26th May at 12h08’00’’
- 8 CLM (H Cléris) finished on 26th May at 13h53’23’’
- 9 π R2 (E Hochédé) finished on 27th May at 05h36’10’’

For more info, visit http://www.vendee-saintpetersbourg.org/
Photos free of rights for media use are available in the press section of the website