Barlo maintains control

The door is slowly closing on any French hopes of winning their Tour de France à la Voile as, despite winning the only one of two scheduled races in Bandol yesterday, Alain Fédensieu's Marseille 2000 went back into the clubhouse last night still 38 points behind Britain's Barlo Plastics.

The door is slowly closing on any French hopes of winning their Tour de France à la Voile as, despite winning the only one of two scheduled races in Bandol yesterday, Alain Fédensieu's Marseille 2000 went back into the clubhouse last night still 38 points behind Britain's Barlo Plastics.

There are just two more inshore races and three offshore before the 34 Mumm 30s are due to complete their 1,000-mile trek, first round the Channel and Atlantic coasts, then west to east along the Mediterranean, at Calvi in Corsica this weekend.

There was plenty of wind early in the day yesterday, but the direction of it was always tracking right while it also softened, so by the time the committee was trying to set a course for the second race of the day it had become floppy in both direction and strength.

Marseille had the best start of the first race and was in the top four by the first mark, second at the second, and well in command at the third. Barlo, with the partnership of Adrian Stead and Tim Powell at the back, worked steadily from ninth at the first mark to fourth at the end, always tracking Marseille.

Third on the water and third overall, Jimmy Pahun's Région Ile de France welcomed Eddie Warden Owen to the first of four races as helmsman, with John Cutler still calling tactics. "It's a really good event. I don't know why we haven't got involved before," said Warden Owen, who returns for the weekend start of Cowes Week on Colm Barrimgton's new Corby 39, Gloves Off.

On Barlo today for the 58-mile hike to Port Grimaud will be Stuart Childerley, just to keep Marseille's helmsman, François Brenac, on his toes.

* Christina Bassadone, 19, and Helen Mayhew, 16, have won the 420 World Championship in La Rochelle, France, beating off competition from 57 teamsrepresenting 16 nations.

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