The first leg of the 2023 Pro Sailing Tour concluded in dramatic fashion on Sunday with the leading two trimarans separated by less than one minute after 42 hours of high-intensity racing.
Erwan Le Roux on Koesio - racing with French Olympic sailor Audrey Ogereau and America's Cup crew Devan Le Bihan - took the 350-mile offshore leg win by just 44 seconds, successfully fending off Pro Sailing Tour newcomer Pierre Quiroga on Viabilis Océans in a light airs duel to the finish line off Bonifacio in Corsica.
Thibaut Vauchel-Camus racing Solidaires En Peloton - ARSEP followed almost 14 minutes later, ahead of Christopher Pratt's Wind of Trust and Luke Berry on Le Rire Médecin-Lamotte, both also making their PST debuts.
A delighted Le Roux said: "The final stages of the leg were incredible, and what is clear from this first leg is that the newcomers to the class are good. They were already at a high level, so it is no surprise at all as I know the teams are talented.
"Along the way there were plenty of regroupings and restarts, and on the whole, we managed our rest time and hours on the helm well, which enabled us to stay clear-headed to the end."
The high-performance foiling trimarans got off to a fast start from La Seyne-sur-Mer in south-eastern France last Friday on a course that took them around the islands of Gallinara, La Giraglia and Monte Cristo, though the breeze became increasingly unstable as the leg progressed, resulting in the nail-biting finish in Corsica with wind-free patches littering the course.
"Anyone could have won this stage," said runner-up skipper Pierre Quiroga. "There were some random elements involved, but this is the Mediterranean so you are never locked into a position until the end. We just gave it our all."
The next leg in the three-week contest will see the fleet race from Bonifacio to Alghero in Sardinia, with the start at 14:00 CET on Wednesday May 17.
The 'Final Rush' to the finish in Brest will start from Alghero at 11:00 on May 21, with the fleet setting off on a 2,000-mile race through the western Mediterranean and the Gibraltar Straits, and then north across the Bay of Biscay.
Image: ©️Vincent Olivaud / Ocean Fifty / Pro Sailing Tour 2023