Over the line Tuesday
Both Gitana should be reaching terra firma on Tuesday, tomorrow. On Monday morning, Marc Guillemot (Gitana X) is fighting tooth and nail with Swiss sailor Stève Ravussin to be the first to make it to the Irish Fastnet Rock, whilst Fred Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) is making good headway to Port La Forêt. At the same time, Karine Fauconnier (Sergio Tacchini) is still not 100% sure of winning the Québec-Saint Malo yacht race as a group of four trimarans is hot on her heels.

For all that Sergio Tacchini was first past the Fastnet on Sunday, the wind has seriously squeezed the fleet and a « group of four » has not had its last word. On Sunday evening, Karine Fauconnier and her crew had a lead of more than one hundred miles which had been reduced to twenty or so miles by Monday morning – the four followers being led by Sodebo, Géant, Groupama and TIM-Progetto Italia !

At 07h00 this morning there was not a puff of wind in Saint Malo and the tidal current turned at 09h30… Forty miles from the privateer city at the same time, the leader of the fleet and also the only woman racing had to contend with a breeze which was gradually veering to the south-east, which should force her to tack to finish the course. Meanwhile, her four followers are catching up with each mile. Sergio Tacchini's two and a half hour lead is melting like snow in the sun and might fall short of a guaranteed win. A few hours from the finish, the position on the podium is still unknown. We will have to wait until the boats reach the channel approach in the Bay of Saint Malo. The outcome of the 2004 edition is every bit as nail-biting as the previous edition in 2000 !

The Gitana

Fred Le Peutrec and his crew have succeeded in sorting out the technical problems they had on board. On Sunday afternoon, they were monitored at an average speed of more than 16 knots. Gitana 11 is scheduled to arrive in  Port La Forêt, where she will be hauled out and taken into the CDK Technologies yard on Tuesday afternoon.

Marc Guillemot and his team are approaching the Fastnet. Gitana X will no doubt round the famous Rock on Monday afternoon along with Banque Covefi. The trimaran has doen an excellent job in making up for lost ground with the Ravussin brothers and Laurent Bourgnon. The two boats have been shoulder to shoulder since Saturday evening / Sunday morning. Both are in an excellent flow of south-westerly wind which will gradually be shifting north-west as they are in front of a system of low pressure which will bring rain to the tip of Brittany.

Overnight, Marc Guillemot indicated that Gitana X had drizzle and grey skies and that the temperature was rather fresh. Once again, the trimaran had run into an unidentified floating object which had damaged the ball and socket joint which fixes the central rudder and that Olivier had yet again had to spend a couple of hours repairing the part in question which enables the boat's longitudinal trim to be adjusted.

At more than 22 knots on Monday morning, Gitana X is expected to reach Saint Malo tomorrow afternoon with  Banque Covefi and Sopra Group. The end of the race is going to be every bit as interesting as that of the leaders –  the fight is not yet over for these three trimarans !

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