Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the local film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her sharp eye upon local happenings.
AT THE RACES
Hip Hip Hooray, it's Ladies Day at the races.
In the wee early morning hours of Wednesday, May 17, the first boat in the Tranast ag2r, a grueling transatlantic sailing race that left Lorient, France on April 16, arrived in the harbor of Gustavia.
Its hard to imagine being at sea in a little sailboat for almost a month (they take a few days of at the beginning of the race to catch their breath on the island of Madiera and ask themselves why they wanted to attemptsuch a feat in the first place) but there are 30 boats expected to finish out of the 42 that started.
Each boat has a two-man team as it were, but when the first of the identical Figaro boats slid across the finish line just before 5:00am, the winners were Lionel Lemonchois and
Karine Fauconnier... not only a woman, but also one hell of a sailor.
Over the years she has been a frequent visitor to our shores, and the local population couldn't have been happier to see her win this bi-annual race. In fact, she and her sailing mate took command of the race in its early days when the boats were being tossed around in the unfriendly waters of the Gulf of Gascony. Since that tempestuous moment, Karine held the lead and sailed on to victory, under the colors of Sergio Tacchini-Itineris. She was
followed by the Circle Vert boat four hours later, and Volkswagon Castrol in another hour and forty-five minutes.
All of the boats sufferered incredibly slow speeds during the last week of the race when they should have already seen the sunny shores of Saint-Barth in their telescopes. But weather being what it is, the winds died down to almost nothing and the racers didn't know if they were the tortoise or the hare. This slowdown caused quite a delay in the crossing time has begun to cause problems for some of the boats who are hours, days, and maybe even a week behind the winners.
There is no way to get additional supplies to the boat (without being disqualified from the race) so food and water are running out rather rapidly. In fact, Richard Ledee and Markku Harmala, the boys from Saint Barth, are currently in 25th
position, and about 500 nautical miles away from Gustavia. Their food supply is probably reduced to a few stale chocolate bars by now, and they have started dipping their line in the ocean waters in hopes of catching a few fish. I hope they have some salt to cure it before eating it uncooked, but then again the salt would only make them thirsty and their fresh water must be in as short supply as the crumbs in the pantry.
Let's hope they make it home in good health.
More to come,