Slow boats to San Fernando

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 1997, 12:00am

Sam Chan's Ffree Fire continued to set the pace after more than 30 hours of sailing in the San Fernando Race.

By yesterday evening, winds had died down to a slow four or five knots compared to the gushing 20 knots which sent the original 37-boat fleet away from Clearwater Bay at midday on Thursday.

French Catamaran Pesket An Eol, skippered by March Cudennec, emerged from nowhere to take its expected place among the leaders. It was lying second about 25 miles behind Ffree Fire but reportedly far south of the recommended line to San Fernando.

Just behind the multi-hull was Moon Blue, the radio boat which is relaying information to organisers about the latest positions.

Peter Churchhouse, aboard Moon Blue, said it was unlikely that the course record of 50 hours and two minutes would be broken because of the weak winds.

'I think it is highly unlikely that the leading boats will make it to San Fernando by [today],' said Churchhouse. 'That is unless the winds pick up.' 'We are probably travelling at around two or three knots.' But he added that the speed was ideal for some deep sea fishing and his crew had already caught several bluefin tuna.

'We've some nice tuna, but we don't want to catch more than we can eat,' he said.

Of the 37 boats that started, Pink Panther was an early casualty, losing her rig within one hour of starting.