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Team VanUden-TU Delft-Van Oord resumes race

The Team Delft Challenge resumed the Tour de France à la Voile on 10 July 2008. After the students’ Mumm 30 ran up against the rocks last week, their race against the clock began. The on-shore crew worked round the clock to repair the damaged keel. By the time the VanUden-TU Delft-Van Oord had been lowered into the water at Granville, the competition committee had decided to cancel the following two offshores due to high winds.The final Atlantic offshore, 180 miles to Royan, began last night. The Tour will then continue in the Mediterranean.

‘It went reasonably well this afternoon,’ said helmsman Michiel van der Meulen of the three inshores off the coast of Lorient. The VanUden-TU Delft-VanOord ended in 24th, 25th and 21st place. ‘The starts were better, but we neglected a few tactical opportunities and made some boat handling errors rounding the buoys.’ The setbacks have forced the Dutch students into last place in a group of 27 competitors. If it is up to Van der Meulen, that will change in the weeks ahead: ‘We’re feeling positive. This is the final Atlantic stage. We hope we’ll sail a good race and narrow the gap between us and the rest. Then we'll probably be able to improve our rankings in the Mediterranean.’

Reaching to Royan 
'The wind is blowing at 15 to 20 knots, so we’ll be using the spinnaker or genoa,’ predicts Van der Meulen. 'Conditions will not be rough and boat handling will be very important, because they’ve placed quite a few buoys out along the course. The choice of sail should also make things interesting. I’m sure we can turn that to our advantage.' When asked whether the setback last week had caused the team to make any changes, the helmsman replied: 'We evaluated everything thoroughly and made firm agreements about when to change tack. We’ve increased the margin somewhat. Everyone’s now aware of the high-risk areas, so that the entire crew can keep a sharp eye out.' Although they had a difficult start, the Dutch team still plans to finish the Tour in Royan as one of the top three student teams. The fleet is expected to arrive there Friday night.

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