Ffree Fire too hot for rivals

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 March, 1997, 12:00am

SAM Chan's Ffree Fire was last night heading towards the finish line for a convincing win in the San Fernando Race - barring unforeseen hiccups.

Ffree Fire was flying under 22-knot winds to lead the 480-mile yacht race by around 100 miles from a trio of chasing boats.

Relay boat Moon Blue, Intrigue and Outrageous were battling for second place last night, and were expected to arrived in San Fernando, in the Philippines, by lunch today.

French catamaran Pesket An Eol, skippered by Marc Cudennec, went out of contention early yesterday morning when it travelled too far south of the recommended line.

It was forced to motor back on course and was last night reported to be back under sail. However, because Cudennec started up the motor, his boat was disqualified.

Peter Churchhouse, aboard Moon Blue, said crews were enjoying excellent weather with strong winds.

'The winds have picked up again today, from six, seven or eight knots to around 22 knots,' said Churchhouse.

'Ffree Fire is about 100 miles ahead of us and is doing very well. Unfortunately it won't break the record, but they sailed a good race.' The record, set by Rothmans eight years ago, stands at 50 hours and two minutes, which passed at 2. 02 pm yesterday when Ffree Fire still had about 30 miles to go.

The race started at noon on Thursday, with 37 boats answering the gun off Clearwater Bay.

The event was started by the accompanying boat, HMS Starling - the last Royal Navy vessel to be involved in the competition before the handover.

There are three mainland Chinese crews taking part, aboard Tipsy Too, Temujin and Holiday.