The second stage of La Solitaire de Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire commenced at 12.30 today. The 36 Figaros set off in around 12 knots of breeze with waves of about two metres on a coastal race around inshore markers, before then stretching north towards Raz de Sein.
La Solitaire du Figaro 2012 leg 2 start
It was Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) who made the best start, leading around the Radio France Buoy after an hour of racing. He was closely followed by Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat) and the ‘Bizuth’ or rookie Figarist Julien Villion (Seixo Promotion). All 36 solo sailors rounded the buoy in less than three minutes.
Despite over 440 miles to sail, there were four individual recalls for being early over the start line: Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls), Morgan Lagravière (Vendée), Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23) and Nicolas Jossier (In Extenso Experts Comptables).
The fleet is now streaming north in light westerly breezes. The key challenge for all will be negotiating a ridge of high pressure and a shift better breeze arriving this evening first from the south-south-west, then settling on a more south-westerly heading. The boats which are able to first hoist a spinnaker and begin the long reach towards the Pointe de Raz off the Brittany coast are likely to gain the advantage on this first section of the course, which will be a test of boatspeed.
Race leader Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) is on the right-hand side of the main group in anticipation of the shift, while the most westerly boat is Francisco Lobato (Roff). Second-placed Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) is taking a central position, with third currently held by Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat). Chabagny made clear his determination before the start, saying: 'Statistically, I'm sure to finish second on this second stage. In 2006, I was second, in 2009, second ... so every three years. But we will try to go one better and win one finally. Because after 11 years of loyal service in the Figaro class, it is time to win a stage!'
Leg one winner Yann Elies (Groupe Queguiner/Journal des Enterprises) is currently lying 18th, towards the west of the pack. First of the International skippers is Henry Bomby (GBR, Artemis 37), who made a good start to the day, rounding the first windward mark in 10th, and was lying 21st in this afternoon’s position report.
Before racing began Bomby commented: 'The start is very important weather-wise. There’s a ridge from then through until midnight, which will be the make, or break of the leg, the biggest gains and losses will be made right at the beginning. Hopefully it will be a good leg for Nick, Sam and myself and we can all improve on our positions and work our way up the leaderboard through the two remaining legs.'
Fellow Brit Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23) is in 28th, and Nick Cherry (Artemis 77) in 31st.