The third episode of the Pro Sailing Tour has gathered the largest ever fleet of the Ocean Fifty trimarans for four days of racing in the waters of Gran Canaria. This is the third stage of the competition and follows from those held in Brest and in La Rochelle France. The recent addition of The Arch, skippered by the French, Armel Tripon brings the number of boats entered to seven, an unprecedented number in the history of the class.
The Pro Sailing Tour fleet is reinforced for this third episode with The Arch co-skippered by Armel Tripon and Benoît Marie. For the first time since the creation of the class, all seven Ocean Fifties in the world will compete, a milestone that demonstrates the unity among the members of the class and the strength of this new circuit. The Arch will share the starting line with Erwan Le Roux's Ciela Village, Quentin Vlamynck's Arkema 4, Sébastien Rogues' Primonial, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus' Solidaires en Peloton - Arsep, Gilles Lamiré's Groupe GCA - 1001 Sourires and Sam Goodchild's Leyton, the current provisional leader after winning the two races in Brest and La Rochelle. During the presentation yesterday, all the skippers agreed in praising the excellent sailing conditions in the archipelago, the great welcome of the city, the magnificent facilities of the host club and the competition format presented by the Pro Sailing Tour.
The intense sporting program will consist of a 24-hour regatta and up to ten coastal races. Racing kicked off today with the 24-Hour Challenge.
24-Hour Challenge in the trade winds
The competition started today with the 24-Hour Challenge, a course of more than 300 nautical miles that will test the trimarans' offshore capabilities in the trade wind conditions that prevail in the islands. The start took place at 11:00 am in front of San Cristobal, south of Marina Las Palmas, from where the fleet will then head out to round Gran Canaria in a counter-clockwise direction. After completing this first leg, they will set course north on a long 90-mile stretch parallel to the west coast of Fuerteventura to circumnavigate the island clockwise back to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. "Depending on how fast they complete the circumnavigation of Gran Canaria we will decide whether to round Fuerteventura or return along the same uphill leg," explains Race Director Gilles Chiorri. "The goal is to get as close as possible to completing the race in 24 hours."
The action begins on Thursday, 1st July, with a 24-hour challenge in which the fleet will compete in a fast 400 nautical mile ocean sprint around the islands of Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. After returning to port, boats and crew will move into coastal configuration to race on Friday and Saturday (3 and 4 July) in up to eight inshore races on a course located in front of the popular Las Canteras beach. The public will be able to enjoy the races from land. "It will be a real spectacle to see the boats sailing at 20 and 30 knots of speed," says Chiorri.
Sam Goodchild, the rival to beat
Sam Goodchild's Leyton leads the provisional Pro Sailing Tour after winning the first two events of the season, but according to the regatta director, the playing field is very even in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: "Despite Leyton's victory in the first two events, the level is clearly even in terms of performance, and the difference was marked by mistakes. There is no doubt that everyone has worked since La Rochelle to eliminate their weaknesses and fight for victory here in Las Palmas''. The Pro Sailing Tour will be decided at the beginning of August in an ocean race between the towns of Toulon and Brest, a course of more than 1600 nautical miles that will link the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of France, and which will define the first champion of the Ocean Fifty trimaran circuit.