High winds batter Round the Island competitors as Yves le Blevec triumphs in trimaran Actual

 

Some classes were cancelled even before the start of the Round the Island (of Wight) Race today as forecasts of brisk south-westerlies brought the reality of over 25 knots and either challenging or exciting races for what had been 1,650 entries and over 10,000 competitors. Injuries were reported to a handful.

First round the 50-mile course anti-clockwise from Cowes, but finishing, at 3hr 09m 57s, just over a minute outside the record, was France’s Yves le Blevec in the 50-foot trimaran, Actual, followed eight minutes later by another French 50-foot trimaran, Prince de Bretagne, skippered by Lionel Lemonchois.

Fifty minutes after le Blevec, first monohull home, as usual, was Mike Slade's 100-foot Leopard though Tony Langley’s TP52 Manroland Sheetfeed was the leading the big boat class on handicap.  

In Lorient, the home-based team of Groupama added another win in the inshore race to extend its overall lead of the Volvo round the world race. Going into Sunday’s start of the final leg to Galway, Franck Cammas has a 25-point lead over the second-placed, American-flagged Puma and a further four points over the New Zealand-managed Spanish entry, Camper.

Conditions are expected to be ideal for Cammas and there would then remain just a final inshore race in Galway. Anything can still happen, but the French already have one hand on the trophy and have swept aside the early dominance of the other Spanish entry, Telefónica, whose skipper, Iker Martinez, moves on the Weymouth for Olympic Games.

***

In Newport, Rhode Island, big crowds poured into Fort Adams and populated surrounding vantage points for a pair of fleet races in the America’s Cup World Series, which winds up its six-regatta, 2011-12 programme on Sunday.     

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