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Courses des Phares fleet damaged

The Course des Phares is the first offshore event for the trimaran circuit  

CALAIS, France -- Harsh conditions have damaged the fleet of the Course des Phares, despite the race's start being delayed for more than a week due to heavy gales.

The fleet of ten 60-foot trimarans, considered the Formula One racers of yachting, set off on the 2,541-mile course from Calais, France, on Sunday.

French skipper Loic Peyron, in Fujicolor led the fleet in a charge across the Bay of Biscay at over 20 knots.

Franck Cammas, in Groupama, winner of the first Grand Prix of the season at Lorient, managed to get within five miles of Peyron before discovering a crack in Groupama's forward crossbeam and deciding to retire.

Karine Fauconnier, in Sergio Tacchini, has retired with structural problems and Philippe Monnet on the new Sopra Group reported damage to the boom.

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The new Bayer Crop Science of Frederick Le Peutrec has made a pit stop in La Trinite, Brittany so designer Nigel Irens can inspect cracks that have appeared in the crossbeam. Le Peutrec is hoping to get a clean bill of health so that he can carry on with minimal delay.

Several boats have also taken the opportunity to make pit stops on the Brittany coast for sail repairs including Belgacom and Biscuits La Trinitaine.

Fuji is expected to reach the Tour d'Hercule lighthouse off La Coruna, Spain on Tuesday night.

The Course des Phares or "lighthouses" race is the first offshore event for the trimaran circuit.

The course is designed to take the fleet past some of the major lighthouses on the west coast of Europe.

The first mark is Ushant on the extreme west point of Brittany. The fleet then sails south into the Bay of Biscay past the lighthouses on Ile de Yeu and Belle Ile to the Tour d'Hercule lighthouse off La Coruna, Spain.

The southerly turning mark is the Belem lighthouse off Lisbon, Portugal, followed by the longest 780-mile leg north to the Fastnet Rock off Ireland before heading back to Calais along the south coast of Britain passing the Wolf Rock light.

The Course de Phares will be the first event for two of the new 2002 Trimarans -- Fred le Peutrec's new Nigel Irens designed by Bayer CropScience and Philippe Monnet's Sopra Group designed by Marc Lombard.

The early pace setter as the fleet passed the first turning mark off Ushant was Loic Peyron in Fujicolor followed by Franck Cammas in Belgacom, winner of the first Grand Prix of the season at Lorient.

The 2002 ORMA circuit continues with the Zeebrugge Grand Prix from July 11 to 14, the Fecamp Grand Prix from September 12 to 15 and the Route Du Rhum single-handed race from St. Malo on November 10.

The Course des Phares is the first offshore event for the ORMA 60-foot trimaran circuit.




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