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Banque Populaire wins the Amigo Challenge

Six days after the first of the Transat Ag2r boats crossed the finish line in the Port of Gustavia, the island of Saint Barth was treated to a new regatta, and had the chance to see all 25 of the identical Figaro Bénéteau racing boats head out of the harbor for the Amigo Challenge. Named after Amigo, a new cellular telephone service that was recently launched in Saint Barth by Dauphin Telecom, the regatta, held on May 3, 2006, served as an epilogue to the bi-annual Ag2r transatlantic race. Planned as an around-the-island sail, the itinerary was altered at the last minute due to a lack of wind (just three to five knots) and the chance of heavy rain. The new itinerary was a four-mile course from Gustavia to the Amigo buoy in the bay of Saline and back. The winner of the Amigo Challenge was Jeanne Grégoire, one of the handful of women sailors competing in the Ag2r, with Gérald Veniard aboard the boat sponsored by Banque Populaire: this duo had come in third in the Ag2r. Second place went to Brit’ Air, with sailors Armel Le Cleach and Nicolas Troussel, along with their special guest Jacqueline Tabarly, widow of the late French sailing legend Eric Tabarly. Third was Delta Dore (Jérémie Beyou and Vincent Riou).

The award ceremony took place immediately following the race, with prizes for all, and a winner’s trophy of dolphins carved in wood, as “dauphin” is French for dolphin, and the prizes were presented by Alain Haillant, founding president of Dauphin Telecom, the sponsor of the Amigo Challenge. It’s a shame there wasn’t more wind to provide a zippy tour around the island, but it was still quite a sight to see these little boats all together out on the water, after being lined up at the dock for a few days, and local sailors and guests were able to go along for the ride. After the race, the sailors began removing the logos from their sails and readying the boats for their return trip to France via cargo ship. The next Ag2r will take place in 2008.

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