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Cap Istanbul crews prepare for second leg

The 'European Capital of Culture – Cap Istanbul' saw a switch over today with the prospect of the second leg. Aboard the boats, the préparateurs are putting the finishing touches to their work whilst the sailors pour over the grib files and the course.

Meantime the organisation is evaluating the supposed duration of this second stage, while the race committee give their final word on the course.

It’s a hive of activity after an essential phase of decompression which saw the small Cap Istanbul troop brightening up the streets of Cagliari’s old town. The jaunt included préparateurs, sailors and members of the organisation who came together in the discovery of the most authentic areas of Sardinia’s capital. Now though, it is time for everyone to cast their minds to the future.

The next scene will be played out between Cagliari and Sicily and everyone is feverishly consulting the abstruse charts, criss-crossed by arrows and other signs which are subject to interpretation. 'The small storm centre will shift westwards I tell you; it’s typical of this area…' Everyone is putting their own spin on the situation which may vary from a possible gale to a highly probable light spell… Some of them have donned civilian clothing as they lend a hand.

This is the case for Louis-Maurice Tannyères, who has swapped his brand new solo sailor get-up for that of an electronics specialist, in a bid to unravel the computer imbroglios lamented by a number of the competitors… Others are throwing themselves into a treasure hunt, with Marc Emig trawling the various car accessory stores dotted about the town to try to track down a new alarm capable of waking him.

Aboard the boats, the préparateurs are putting the finishing touches to their check-list updates. These include everything from grocery needs, to gear to be repaired, to damaged sails to be delivered by the sailmaker at a given time, to stowage according to some well established rituals, and the result is a really concentrated enterprise in the hands of a single person.

The only female préparateur in the race, Elise Garcin, in charge of Jean-Paul Mouren’s boat, bears witness to this industriousness: 'I’m lucky enough to work with someone who likes to delegate a great deal. Jean-Paul and I trust in each other…' The young woman, proud of her roots in Marseilles, is passionate about the sea, to the extent that she did a training session in Brittany. It’s there that she discovered the Figaro class.

Back on home turf she obviously contacted the only local sailor from the circuit, namely the eternal Jean-Paul Mouren. The wise old man of ocean racing and the energetic young woman, hit it off and raced together on the first two editions of the Cap Istanbul. 'I think that in order for it to work, you need complicity… With Jean-Paul, we have a shared culture; we are people from southern climes. Added to that, you also need a bit of emotion otherwise the binomial element doesn’t work for long.'

This is the case for a number of préparateur – sailor duos in the small world of ocean racing. Indeed, some would say that these couples can end up looking like each other but, for the time being, the young blonde woman and the grey moustached Jean-Paul Mouren have a way to go before this happens!

Amidst an atmosphere of concentration and checks, the sailors and their shore crew are gradually getting into the race. There are still 24 hours to go before the grand start of the second leg but already, in the minds of a number of sailors, the seven hills of Cagliari are beginning to form just a single dot on the horizon.

by Kate Jennings translation


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9:22 PM Thu 18 Sep 2008 GMT

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