This stage between Cagliari and Marzamemi has had it all: for starters a tactical battle in the bay of Cagliari, a long ride under spinnaker for the main course and for dessert a close-hauled struggle along the coast of Sicily. Even the palate cleanser was provided for in the shape of a lull in the wind around the bay of Sciacca. The chef’s surprise came in the form of a total outsider, Antonio Pedro da Cruz, seizing power.
The Sicilian night wasn’t gentle on everybody on the racetrack. After bursting onto the north-west tip of the island where the whole fleet was lined up under spinnaker to plunge down the coast under the cover of the darkness level with Marsala, the sailors in the 'European Capital of Culture – Cap Istanbul' saw the wind drop off progressively as they approached the first course mark in the bay of Sciacca. For several hours, in a bay criss-crossed by fishing boat lights, the solo sailors had to deal with light, shifty winds at best, if they hadn’t already been brought to a total standstill in the calm conditions.
In this little game of intuition and luck, Antonio Pedro da Cruz, the skipper de Baïko, already at the head of the fleet at the course mark, opened up an awesome lead. He powered along with a lead at the end of the night of nearly 15 miles over his fellow competitors. Sometimes it’s the young ‘kitchen hands’ who, caught up by a sudden burst of inspiration, surpass the chief cooks in the space of a recipe. Antonio, more familiar to the soft belly or even the tail end of the ranking, seemingly found the magic formula last night. As such Baïko was still bowling along at nearly 6 knots, while the bulk of the fleet was stuck in the bay of Sciacca. The Mediterranean can be cruel sometimes and able to transform a small separation into an irremediable deficit in less time than it takes a good fairy to turn a pumpkin into a glittering carriage. In contrast there are those that lose out big time such as Fred Duthil, who went from leader of the chasing group to twentieth place. The light conditions add an undeniably random aspect to proceedings.
This morning the fleet of Figaro sailors still had nearly eighty miles to go… It began with a long beat along the coast of Sicily. Off Porto Empedocle, the wind freshened whilst the skies quickly became overcast. It was then a wind of nearly twenty knots which awaited the solo sailors. Doubtless that at this stage of the race, the sailors’ freshness of mind and the automatic gestures was becoming decisive. Little by little, some of the Figaro circuit’s star players began their climb up towards the front of the fleet, whilst some of the other talented but less experienced skippers may have been lacking as regards the demands of the circuit and gradually lost their footing. As a result, the front seats were filled by the usual medal winners, namely Gildas Mahé (Le Comptoir Immobilier) followed closely by Laurent Pellecuer (Docteur Valnet Aromathérapie), Thierry Chabagny (Suzuki Automobiles), Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire)… Even though we know the Mediterranean is fond of upsetting the balance, aboard Baïko, Antonio Pedro da Cruz has enough of a lead not to worry about his own glittering carriage… www.capistanbul.com