First Sicilian stage…
The first stage of the Cap Istanbul (double-handed race in stages to Istanbul) between Marseilles and Trapani in Sicily has concluded with a magnificent third place for Domaine du Mont d'Arbois, the Gitana Team's Figaro. The pairing constituted of Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and his co-skipper Kito de Pavant has proven effective on a Mediterranean where the winds initially fluctuated before gaining in force on the second part of the stage. So covering the 490 miles separating Marseilles from Trapani in less than 2 ½ days amounts to quite a performance!

With very tight regattas, this first stage lived up to all its sports promises. At the finish, there was almost nothing to separate the leading three, who crossed the line less than 10 minutes apart... After getting off to a splendid start in Marseilles bay, Domaine du Mont d'Arbois made a clear choice in the opening hours of the race: to follow the orthodromic route (most direct line towards the finish point, ed's note). Two other groups of boats, meanwhile, elected for slightly more circuitous paths, the first to the east and the second to the west. As it turned out, it was the leading trio formed by Domaine du Mont d'Arbois, and Koné Elévators that had chosen most wisely.

Domaine du Mont d'Arbois crossed the line on 28 May at 22h45'20''.

In getting to that point, there had been some exciting moments and excellent sailing lessons.

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent spoke about this first stage a few hours after his arrival at the finish: “I feel on excellent form despite the sleep deprivation that has been building up for a little over 48 hours, although we did manage to sleep in 3-hour chunks per 24 hours. Kito is no doubt a little less well rested than me, as he was at the helm more with the spinnaker up in the wind, when all his experience really came into play. For me personally, it was a great lesson on what manoeuvres to make in the wind. After our fine start, it was important not to let the pace slacken.. The first half of the course was tactical with fickle winds, while the second half took place at a frenetic pace. The whole stage was completed in sight and in contact with each other, and the end was exceptional, with spells of 16 to 17 knots and a surprising average speed for these boats (Figaro class, ed's note) between the south of Sardinia and Trapani. We were determined but calm, even when we were back in 7th place on Sunday evening. And our approach was proved right, as we shot back into 2nd place on Monday morning. If I had to pick out a highlight, I think it would be our gybe at the moment when the wind was really strong. I really don't think I could have managed that on my own...

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Kito de Pavant now have two days to get some rest and adjust  a few of the boat's technical settings before embarking on phase 2 between Trapani and Foça. Longer and more complex, it will end in southern Turkey after 780 miles of sailing that should be really exciting, if the tiny gaps between the boats on arrival at Trapani are anything to go by.

The start of this second stage is scheduled for between the evening of Thursday 31 May and Friday 1 June 2007, depending of course on the weather conditions.

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