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THE TRANSAT: ERIC BRUNEEL IS 50FT MULTIHULL CHAMPION...
 
       French skipper, Eric Bruneel, on Trilogic has stormed to victory in the 50ft multihull division. Bruneel crossed the line at 14:23:37 GMT in a time of 14 days, 1 hour, 23 minutes and 37 seconds at an average speed of 8.32 knots.

 
This is a major win for Bruneel who, although, is an experieced sailor especially in dinghy catamarans, has never won an offshore solo race. Bruneel has led this division the entire length of the 2800 mile course and racked up a significant 200+ mile lead in the early stages which no other skipper in his class could dent.

On the tail of Bruneel saw the arrival of Marc Thiercelin, skipper of Open 60 Pro-Form. Thiercelin crossed the at 1441 GMT finishing in 14 days, 1 hour, 41 minutes and 15 seconds to finish in sixth place. Thiercelin has raced a close-fought battle with fellow Frenchman Herve Laurent on UUDS who is only 30 miles further back having raced 2800 miles from Plymouth.

Last night saw the arrival of the final ORMA 60 competitor, French skipper, Yves Parlier on board his twin-masted, catamaran Médiatis Region Aquitaine who finished in 13 days, 7 hours, 11 minutes and 35 seconds - over four days behind the ORMA winner Michel Desjoyeax. In the Open 60 division, Australian skipper Nick Moloney on Skandia finshed a couple of hours later in 13 days, 9 hours and 13 minutes, 11 hours ahead of his main rival Britain's Conrad Humphreys on Hellomoto who finished at 0924 GMT this morning. Moloney and Humphreys had been locked in a fierce battle for fourth place for the majority of the race until Skandia managed to sail away from Hellomoto last Thursday night as Humphreys sat becalmed for eight hours.

As Transat 2004 competitors flow across the Boston finish line after 14 days of racing, the competition within all classes is still intense. In the 60ft monohull class Sebastien Josse on six-year-old, VMI, has played a tough chase game since steering linkage problems forced the French skipper to a virtual halt for nearly an entire day while undertaking repairs. Josse then sped north through The Grand Banks, up to Newfoundland almost clipping headlands on the Avalon and Burin peninsulas, before tacking south (in a satellite telephone conversation with fellow Open 60 skipper, Nick Moloney on Skandia, Josse explained that he was collecting ice for the prize giving party)! VMI is now screaming south, has recently passed Cape Sable - the southern tip of Nova Scotia - and is continuing to take miles out of seventh place UUDS (Herve Laurent), currently 132 miles ahead, but only 76 miles from Boston.

Further southeast, an Open 60 regatta is developing between Norbert Sedlacek (Austria One) in ninth place and Frenchwoman, Karen Leibovici (Atlantica-Charentes Maritimes) with Charles Hedrich (Objectif 3) just 17 miles behind the pair. This trio are spread only 80 miles west/east with Sedlacek still 567 miles from the finish line.
Now that leading 50ft multihull skipper, Eric Bruneel and Trilogic have finished this afternoon, this leaves Great American II, skippered by Rich Wilson, in his wake with 266 miles to go the finish line. Wilson has a comfortable 120 mile lead over third-placed Dominique Demachy on Gifi who, equally, holds a substantial 340 mile lead over the back-marker PIR2 of Etienne Hochedé.

An almost identical, class leadership margin is held by Kip Stone and Artforms in the 50ft monohulls; Stone has 270 miles to race and a lead of 231 miles over Jacques Bouchacourt on Okami. Bouchacourt and Joe Harris, on third place Wells Fargo-American Pioneer, are only 46 miles apart in terms of DTF (Distance To Finish), but in reality - Harris remains on the same latitude as the finish line, while Bouchacourt heads SW, 46 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Two boats are still labouring through The Grand Banks; Anne Liardet on Open 60, Quiksilver Edition, is beating into the western extremity of the fishing area, handicapped by a broken boom. Further east, Roger Langevin on 50ft monohull, Branec III, is watchful for the "immense and silent fishing vessels" that lurk in the thick fog of The Banks. Both the French skippers will be highly aware that they must cross the finish line by 04:18:08 GMT this Sunday (20/06/04) - exactly seven days after the finish of 60ft monohull class winner, Mike Golding on Ecover - to officially complete The Transat 2004. It is imperative that Liardet average just over 120 miles each day and Langevin must squeeze a little over 155 miles a day from Branec III, for the pair to finish the race.

POSITIONS:
For latest positions go to http://www.thetransat.com and click on the 'Latest Race Data/Latest Positions' on the orange bar and then click on leaderboard. Positions are available daily every 2 hours from 0600BST-1800BST.
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For further information, please contact Lou Newlands or Isabel Genis
lou@offshorechallenges.com
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