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The Pro Sailing Tour third stage gets off to flying start

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The Pro Sailing Tour third stage gets off to flying start Seven Ocean Fifty’s in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The Pro Sailing Tour third stage gets off to flying start Seven Ocean Fifty’s in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

The third episode of the Pro Sailing Tour has gathered the largest ever fleet of the Ocean Fifty trimarans for four days of racing in the waters of Gran Canaria. This is the third stage of the competition and follows from those held in Brest and in La Rochelle France. The recent addition of The Arch, skippered by Armel Tripon brings the number of boats entered to seven, an unprecedented number in the history of the class. 

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The Pro Sailing Tour fleet is reinforced for this third episode with The Arch co-skippered by Armel Tripon and Benoît Marie. For the first time since the creation of the class, all seven Ocean Fifties in the world will compete, a milestone that demonstrates the unity among the members of the class and the strength of this new circuit. The Arch will share the starting line with Erwan Le Roux's Ciela Village, Quentin Vlamynck's Arkema 4, Sébastien Rogues' Primonial, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus' Solidaires en Peloton - Arsep, Gilles Lamiré's Groupe GCA - 1001 Sourires and Sam Goodchild's Leyton, the current provisional leader after winning the two races in Brest and La Rochelle. During the presentation yesterday, all the skippers agreed in praising the excellent sailing conditions in the archipelago, the great welcome of the city, the magnificent facilities of the host club and the competition format presented by the Pro Sailing Tour.

The intense sporting program will consist of a 24-hour regatta and up to ten coastal races. Racing kicked off today with the 24-Hour Challenge.

24-Hour Challenge in the trade winds
The competition started today with the 24-Hour Challenge, a course of more than 300 nautical miles that will test the trimarans' offshore capabilities in the trade wind conditions that prevail in the islands. The start took place at 11:00 am in front of San Cristobal, south of Marina Las Palmas, from where the fleet will then head out to round Gran Canaria in a counter-clockwise direction. After completing this first leg, they will set course north on a long 90-mile stretch parallel to the west coast of Fuerteventura to circumnavigate the island clockwise back to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. "Depending on how fast they complete the circumnavigation of Gran Canaria we will decide whether to round Fuerteventura or return along the same uphill leg," explains Race Director Gilles Chiorri. "The goal is to get as close as possible to completing the race in 24 hours."

The weather forecast ensures a spectacular battle for victory, with wind conditions ranging from 10-15 knots north at the start to 25-30 knots on the leg that will take the fleet in front of Gran Canaria airport, with average 18 knots. The teams will have to manage the intensity of the wind and negotiate the areas of lulls caused around the islands. "This is the most exotic destination on the circuit and the one with the most complicated conditions for these boats," warns Chiorri.

The Arch suffers torn mainsail
Just three hours into the race, and as the fleet was performing a series of gybes off the west coast of the island, The Arch tore its mainsail, seeing them forced to withdraw from the 24 Hour Challenge. The boat headed to shore to assess the damage and the team is confident that repairs can be made in time for the weekend races. The incident did not cause any injuries on board

Live coverage of the race
You can follow the race live through on the Pro Sailing Tour. The application developed by Georacing offers live data providing data of  the relative position of the boats on the map, their speed, distance between participants, course and wind conditions.

In the heart of the city
The Pro Sailing Tour is designed to bring competitive sailing to the public. During their stay in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the boats will be moored at the central Muelle Deportivo, an exceptional location that will allow the public to come and enjoy the spectacle while they remain in port and see how the teams are prepare and fine tune their boats. The event will share space with the tenth edition of FIMAR, the International Maritime Fair, which will be held in Marina Las Palmas from 2 to 4 July. The protagonists of the Pro Sailing Tour will actively participate in FIMAR with a series of conferences and talks to bring the circuit closer to those attending the fair. 

Four days of competition
The Las Palmas de Gran Canaria event is the third qualifying event for the Pro Sailing Tour 2021, which has already visited the French ports of Brest (19th to 23rd May) and La Rochelle (26th to 30th May). As in those first two stages, the third stage will consist of four days of racing preceded by an educational session in which local youths will be able to learn about the circuit from the sailors and organisers.

The action begins on Thursday, 1st July, with a 24-hour challenge in which the fleet will compete in a fast 400 nautical mile ocean sprint around the islands of Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. After returning to port, boats and crew will move into coastal configuration to race on Friday and Saturday (3 and 4 July) in up to eight inshore races on a course located in front of the popular Las Canteras beach. The public will be able to enjoy the races from land. "It will be a real spectacle to see the boats sailing at 20 and 30 knots of speed," says Chiorri.

Sam Goodchild, the rival to beat
Sam Goodchild's Leyton leads the provisional Pro Sailing Tour after winning the first two events of the season, but according to the regatta director, the playing field is very even in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: "Despite Leyton's victory in the first two events, the level is clearly even in terms of performance, and the difference was marked by mistakes. There is no doubt that everyone has worked since La Rochelle to eliminate their weaknesses and fight for victory here in Las Palmas''. The Pro Sailing Tour will be decided at the beginning of August in an ocean race between the towns of Toulon and Brest, a course of more than 1600 nautical miles that will link the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of France, and which will define the first champion of the Ocean Fifty trimaran circuit.

Filming of the Ocean Fifty documentary series
Among the initiatives to bring the Pro Sailing Tour closer to the public, the event organisers, together with Upswing Prod, have launched an ambitious project consisting of the production of Ocean Fifty, a documentary series about the participating crews and the venues that host the circuit. The five-episode series, which will feature the day-to-day lives of the Pro Sailing Tour's protagonists at each of the season's events, will be available on the main television platforms by the end of the year.

The third episode of the Pro Sailing Tour has the support of the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Cabildo de Gran Canaria and the Port of Las Palmas.

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