La Solitaire du Figaro - Reigning champ claims leg 1 win
by Marie Le Berrigaud Perochon on 6 Jun 2013
In the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro, French solo sailor and reigning race champion Yann Eliès on board Groupe Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir, crossed the finish line in Porto at 16:03:26 CEST today, June 5th 2013, winning leg one. Eliés covered the 536 miles long leg from Bordeaux to Porto in 3 days, 3 hours, 3 minutes and 26 seconds thus taking his personal leg wins record to eight victories in 14 editions of the race.
Victoire de Yann Elies, skipper du Figaro Groupe Queguiner, sur la 1ere etape entre Bordeaux et Porto lors de la Solitaire du Figaro-Eric Bompard cachemire 2013 © Alexis Courcoux
'It's been a long battle, as always. I'm happy with the final result because I've been up in front almost all the time, save at the start, but this seems to be the norm for me! I had some bad moments too. At Cap Finisterre I thought I was safe, and when the wind started to drop I said to myself it's ok, I have ten miles, time to clear up a bit and I saw three little red lights passing to the leeward. I thought: ok, let's start this over. It was tough... Finally I managed to put some time between me and the others, that is good. But this is only the first one, it's not won yet, there is still three to go. I'm happy but I know that I have to keep focused and modest because the reverse can always happen, especially on the second leg. I reckon I'm among the favourites, one needs to be self-confident and I think I'm ready to go for it. This is my eighth win, one more to my goal to equal Jean Le Cam'. Declared an elated Eliés setting foot on the pontoons in Douro Marina.
More so, as the skipper explained that his onboard computer failed soon after the start and he was forced to go back to paper charts: 'I had no computer, no navigation software and I couldn't get the position reports. But I studied the lesson well before the start and I knew what was needed on every segment of the leg. This worked up to Cap Finisterre, I always had issues with it... Not having a computer may have saved me, because when you don't know where the others are you can choose where you want to go. And this can be positive. It was kind of 'old style' sail racing... I got out paper charts, ruler and pencil...'
Second place went to Frederic Duthil on Sepalumic who crossed the line at 16:47:30 for a total elapsed time of 3 days, 3 hours, 47 minutes and 30 seconds shortly followed by Jean-Pierre Nicol on Bernard Controls at 16:59:44.
The 41 boats strong fleet left the village of Paulliac on the Garonne river on Sunday, June 2nd bound for Porto, on the northern coast of Portugal. The boats still racing are scheduled to reach Porto in succession over the coming hours.
First non-French skipper expected to finish is UK's Sam Goodchild on Shelterbox – Disaster Relief at his third participation who is currently in ninth and will score his best result in the Solitaire so far after a 14th in last year's third leg.
The battle for victory in the special 'rookie' category is also proving to be very harsh with Southampton based 22 years old Jackson Bouttell (Artemis 77) fending off the attacks of the most serious contenders to the title: the only female skipper Claire Pruvot (Port de Cahen Ouistreham), Benoit Hochart (ADOCIS/IB-Remarketing) and fellow countryman Edmund Hill (Artemis La Solitaire website