Stead struggles as low winds frustrate fleet

Disruption both ashore and afloat hit the Tour de France à la Voile on its leg from St Cyprien to Sÿte, but the British pair of the overall leader, Barlo Plastics, and fourth-placed Easy Oars were last night maintaining the pressure on their opponents on the second day of the Mediterranean section.

Disruption both ashore and afloat hit the Tour de France à la Voile on its leg from St Cyprien to Sÿte, but the British pair of the overall leader, Barlo Plastics, and fourth-placed Easy Oars were last night maintaining the pressure on their opponents on the second day of the Mediterranean section.

Ashore, the travelling circus which moves at night to put up the tented village in time for the arrival was halted as negotiations took place to prevent a further blockade of the sort already mounted by French fishermen at the start in Dieppe and later in St Nazaire.

In addition, local traders were uneasy about commercial competition from the entourage which accompanies the race on its 1,000-mile progress from Dieppe to the finish in Calvi, Corsica, next weekend.

But the race director, Manfred Ramspacher, was able to calm fears and a warm welcome was assured. But he could not control the Mediterranean wind and, at the start time yesterday of 8.00am there was precious little of it. So the 34 Mumm 30s were asked to begin motoring the 56 miles across the Golfe du Lion with the proviso that they should be ready to start racing under sail when the breeze developed. Which it did nearly six hours later, giving them just 28 miles to race to the finish.

Fastest out of the blocks was Jimmy Pahun, currently third overall in Region Ile de France and due to hand over this weekend to two top America's Cup sailors, John Cutler and Terry Hutchinson.

Second was a backmarker, Belvedere, skippered by Sylvain Chtounder, followed by Easy Oars, with Ian Budgen at the helm, and Barlo, with Adrian Stead back in charge.

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