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sail-world.com -- Solitaire du Figaro - Hold your nerves and focus until the very end

Solitaire du Figaro - Hold your nerves and focus until the very end    
Wed, 12 Jun 2013

In the Solitaire du Figaro, holding nerves and focusing until the very last hundred metres to the finish line proved vital for the 40 skippers competing on the second leg, which finished yesterday in Gijòn, on the northwestern coast of Spain. Leg winner Armel Le Cleac'h climbed up ten positions in the overall standings but reigning champion Yann Eliès still sits comfortably at the top. After more than two days at sea, with a mixed bag of conditions up the Portuguese coast, round cap Finisterre and along the northern Spanish coast, that forced the skippers to come up with solid tactical, weather and navigational calls, leg 2 was really only decided on the last few hours, when the breeze started to fade and the final stretch to the Spanish port turned into a real match-race, in light and unstable breeze. The last 30 miles to the finish meant glory or disaster, as it was the case for leg winner Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire) or for race veteran Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) who, after having led the fleet for most of the distance made the unfortunate choice to stay inshore and so lost more than two hours. The finish in Gijòn was extremely close, the top fifteen skippers crossing in less than 35 minutes and only two hours separating the winner from the 25th placed skipper. With his win on the second leg and especially with the counter performances by Frédéric Duthil (Sépalumic) 10th at 21 minutes, Xavier Macaire (Skipper Hérault) 17th at 52 minutes and Jean-Pierre Nicol, 25th at 1h 46 minutes, Armel Le Cléac'h succeded in climbing up ten places, from 16th to sixth place in the overall standings. Yet, Yann Eliès' huge margin has only be slightly worn down as he still maintains a 57 minutes lead on Frédéric Duthil (Sepalumic) and 1h 44' on Alexis Loison (Groupe Fiva) and 1h 57' on Le Cleac'h. The third leg, starting from Gijòn on Thursday, June 13th bound for Roscoff via the île d'Yeu for a total 436 miles, will then represent a perfect opportunity to reshuffle cards and to take some bold option by those aspiring to the final victory in Dieppe. As things stand the overall results are far from being set, even for leader Yann Eliés who can rely on a 57 minutes advantage and anything can still happen on the remaining 950 miles to the finish in Dieppe. The name of the 44th Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard cachemire winner is still anyone's guess. Leg 2 saw once more, good results from the non-French skippers, with a consistent Sam Goodchild (Shelterbox-Disaster Relief) finishing the stage in 11th, Nick Cherry (Magma Structures) in 14th, Jack Bouttell (Artemis 77) in 19th and Henry Bomby (RockFish) in 20th that is four British skippers in the top 20, followed by a very disappointed Ed Hill in 38th. In the provisional overall standing after two legs three non-French Best placed is Sam Goodchild in an excellent ninth, Nick Cherry is in 14th and young Jackson Bouttell is in 18th. Henry Bomby is in 24th but not far from the first half, David Kenefick made up for some of the gap he accumulated on leg 1 and is 30th overall whilst Ed Hill slipped down to 34th. The seven newcomers to the Solitaire, the 'bizuth' are having a veritable race inside the race, since a victory in the rookie division has been always considered with great respect on the international offshore sailing scene. The win in leg 2 went to the only female sailor competing this year, Claire Pruvot (Port de Caen Ouistreham) who managed to catch up five precious minutes on British Jackson Bouttell (Artemis 77). The two have a good margin on third placed Benoit Hochard (Adocis – IB Remarketing) currently at 1hour and 30' while David Kenefick (Full Irish) is in fourth at 2 hours and 2'. The remaining two legs of the Solitaire look to be set for a tight battle for the young guns too. Further to an accident on Sunday night, when he fell and hurt his right shoulder, Louis Maurice Tannyères announced to abandon racing. He will not then be on the starting line for legs 3 and 4 and will deliver his Figaro Joanna double-handed to the boat's homeport in Saint- Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. David Kenefick (Full Irish) 18th overall leg 2 and second rookie: 'Good as a whole, I was last at Radio France, 41st. So after that all I wanted to do was to remain positive and try catch up as much as I could. But I started crying and after I stopped crying I then tried to catch up. I think ninth was the highest I got up to and then I lost a few places and came 16th to 17th. It was good. I'm happy but upset that I've lost five places and I was maybe five minutes short of the first rookie prize, so two minutes short of the money prize is not a nice feeling. I want to go on a holiday in July... I have to win some money prize so I can afford to rent the boat for next year. I've learned to not give up because anything can happen in a Figaro race, I kept going as quick as I can, on the shorter direction, looking for wind. It worked and I was lucky also. I'm tired on the first night I slept a little bit, on the second one I was exhausted and I tried to sleep as much as I can, I had no energy. Today I was steering and I fell asleep on the boat'. Jackson Bouttell (Artemis 77), 19th overall and third rookie, provisional rookie leader: 'The finish of the second leg was a bit like the first one, it was tricky, the wind was very light and it was slow. With good wind at cap Finisterre with the spinnaker up was ok but it's always hard to sail well. I also managed to sleep during the leg. I made some mistakes, on the first night I went a bit too much east, it was wrong and later I made more mistakes but I could catch up by pushing, pushing, pushing... With Claire (Pruvot) is pretty close now, only six minutes!' Henry Bomby (Rockfish) 20th overall on leg 2: 'The second leg feels like I made some silly mistakes in my trajectory, in navigation and I lost a lot of time on this. Twice I went offshore and lost a lot of miles both times and didn't really recover bit this is still my best result in the Solitaire so... I'm not too unhappy but just frustrated because I know I could have done a lot better and didn't. But it's good, it's encouraging that even if I know I did my best I still want to do better. The outcome is good, I'm happy, when I arrived I was a bit down. For the second time Claire (Pruvot) beat me and we made a bet, so I think I'm the one to do the housekeeping now at home... oh my, I'll have to do all the dishwashing!' Edmund Hill (Artemis 37), 38th on leg 2 and 34th overall: 'The first day and night I just sort of stayed with the fleet and then tacked off to try and get more pressure and it decided into nothing. When I went back the fleet were gone. I knew there were some people in the back so I tacked off again to try and get more pressure and I just ended up sailing six miles behind everyone else and on my own for two days, which was pretty horrible. Fortunately, I caught up with the guys at the back but it's still a terrible result. With that kind of time difference the race is pretty over for me. I just have to enjoy the other legs now. I'm pretty gutted. I wanted to not lose the Solitaire in a leg and that is what's happened, meaning all of my hopes of doing well as a Rookie have been dashed. It's a shame'. La Solitaire

by Marie Le Berrigaud Perochon



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