Trans-Atlantic racing boat winner closes in on Limón

With a little over 100 miles of Atlantic blue between the front running sailing ship and Puerto Limón Thursday night, team Virbac-Paprec 3 is expected to win the transatlantic sailing race called the Transat Jacques Vabre.

The 4,500 mile race began in Le Havre, France, more than two weeks ago, and the two-man Virbac-Paprec 3 team, barring any catastrophic problems, was expected to arrive on Costa Rican shores late Thursday night or early this morning.

The next closest racing team in the same category, a boat sponsored by Hugo Boss, was more than 100 miles behind the leaders Thursday night.

If team Virbac-Paprec 3 stays on course, the win could mark the third first-place finish for racer Jean Pierre Dick and possibly set a record for the route, which also ended in Limón in 2009. Previously, the racers either finished in Columbia or Brazil.

But after the first round of boats sails into Limón, the race is not over. Still out to sea are two other classification of sailboats, distinguished by varying sizes and builds, many of which won’t arrive until the weekend.

This years race was highlighted by erratic weather, which delayed the start by three days and badly damaged the field of multi-hull boats which are less stable than their monohull counterparts. Only two of the original six boats remain after early inclement weather forced many to turn around. Some had to be rescued by Portuguese responders.

Another boat reported having wasted more than an hour after being approached by coast guard vessels and interrogated over the radio.

To welcome the racers in Port Limón is a cultural event of Caribbean roots called the Wa’apin Fest, promoted by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

The gathering will take place on today and Saturday and feature music, Caribbean arts and crafts, food and a celebration to greet the boaters. The events are open to the public.

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