Among Elmaleh's competitors is Rene Vidmer, 42, a graphic designer who has sailed solo across the Atlantic and who two years ago lost a boat on a reef while night sailing in the Gal�pagos. Today his Syndicate 1.0 is lagging far behind the pack. "I'm a lousy sailor," he explains. "They like that down here. I've sailed the Pacific and everything else, and I'm still the worst."
At one point, on a downwind leg, a strong gust pushes several of the boats, and they begin planing. Two others plough under the surface long enough to submerge their decks and soak their trimming and steering mechanisms.
"The nicest thing about this is you have to concentrate on it enough that you don't think about anything else," says Roy Langbord, 33, an attorney for Showtime. "After law school I wanted something to get my mind off work. It's more adult than it appears."
The day's 10 races end. Langbord places second, Larson takes third, retired ad writer Stephen Van Ness fourth and Brown is fifth. Vidmer, to his surprise, is sixth, and Sal Cantarella, 31, an in-house printer at Bergdorf-Goodman, is seventh, ahead of the two soggy boats that dropped out. At last the pond was left to the French boy and his motorboat. Did he understand why the sailor had yelled at him? "Il a le m�me contact que moi," he explains, pointing to his antenna and adding that he, too, had run into unexpected problems. "Le pigeon, l�. Il se pose sur mon bateau."