Eleven or so knots, the average speed of the two leaders finishing in Calvi this morning, just in time for breakfast. The wind was not always that co-operative ! It all started in the Bay of Calvi on a preliminary course where Franck Cammas came out with a 500 metre lead over Pascal Bidégorry and Frédéric Le Peutrec. In an 8-knot westerly breeze, the seven-strong trimaran fleet eased off the sheets for a long run south. As the wind turned north-west, the crews had to decide whether to hug the coast of head out to sea. With Daniel Souben in the role of tactician, Gitana 11 came as close into the coast as she could, where puffs of thermal winds swept across the water. The option paid off as Groupama-2 conceded the leadership in the Bay of Ajaccio. Less than three miles behind, Armel Le Cléac'h and Pascal Bidégorry were battling hard until Foncia spotted a problem at the foot of the mast and decided to divert to Ajaccio for repairs.
At the entrance to the Bouches de Bonifacio, Gitana 11 and Groupama-2 were close-hauled against a 25-knot wind which had veered NE… which enabled them to increase their lead over Banque Populaire and the other trimarans, clearly in a different context altogether. The climb up the east coast of Corsica was a rather tricky stretch to negotiate, not only because the night made it tough for the strategists to anticipate where the breeze and calm areas lay, but also because each bay was full of surprises – dead calm in one bay a 25 knot breeze in the next. Sometimes going nowhere fast and at other times, full blast at more than 30 knots ! Groupama-2 and Gitana 11 continued to alternate first and second place. But finally, after swopping and switching for more than one hundred miles, the Giraglia passage (northern tip of Corsica) saw Franck and Frédéric neck and neck sailing within a length of each other. As a steady 8-knot NE wind gradually settled in, both trimarans engaged in a gybing battle but Groupama-2 proved to be faster in these conditions, and inched her way ahead of Gitana 11. In the end, this resulted in a ten minute and one second lead at the finishing line. As Pascal Bidégorry took third, Gitana X was still 25 miles from Calvi.
Finish of the Round Corsica Race (Round 1 of the Grand Prix de Corse) :
1 - Franck Cammas (Groupama) finished in 8h 19' 26''
2 - Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) finished in 8h 29' 27'', 10'01'' after the winner
3 - Pascal Bidégorry (Banque Populaire) finished 9h 15' 38'', 56'12'' after the winner
4 - Giovanni Soldini (TIM-Progetto Italia) finished 9h 50' 00'', 1h30'34'' after the winner
5-Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) finished at 10h 49' 09'', 2h29'43'' after the winner
6-Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X) finished at 12h 17' 03'', 3h57'37'' after the winner
7-Armel Le Cléac'h (Foncia) retired