Leg 3 of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cashmere got underway today at 1300hrs (CEST) in exciting conditions of a twelve knot westerly and two metre swell with sunshine breaking through off the coast of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie.
La Solitaire du Figaro 2012 start
British skipper Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23) goy a flying start behind Leg 2 front-runner Nicolas Lunven (Generali).
The 36 competing skippers (Anthony Marchand did not line up despite his earlier hopes to resume racing) first negotiated a ten mile inshore course before setting off towards Brittany on the first coastal leg of this 486-mile stage.
At the end of the dog-leg, Nicolas Lunven (Generali) was in front of Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23). Paul Meilhat (Skipper Macif 2011), Nicolas Jossier (In Extenso Accountants) and Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) each made good starts but had dropped back by the Geolink buoy.
After the first run, the leaders' positions at the Radio France buoy remained unchanged, with third placed Morgan Lagravière (Vendée) followed by Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) as Lunven led the fleet away from the Vendée stop-over port in a 12-knot westerly. Nick Cherry (GBR, Artemis 77) had a poor kite drop at the leeward mark and found himself in last position, but has been steadily regaining places over the afternoon.
By this afternoon's position report Lunven was fractionally leading Morvan by less than 0.1 miles, with Goodchild the same distance to the south, in third. Yann Elies, provisional leader of the overall standings, is in 12th position, with two miles covering the fleet. The sailors are now heading towards the Glénan Archipelago off Concarneau, first racing past Belle-Ile, around 60 miles away.
Yann Eliès (Groupe Queguiner – Le Journal des Entreprises): 'I will set out, ignoring the overall standings and trying to duplicate what I did on the early stages, either in terms of speed, strategy or pleasure. I'm looking forward to it because since the beginning of the race I've been having a wonderful time. I really want to give everything. On the starting line, I'll try to be a little more powerful, to make less mistakes, and stop having to do 720 penalties for a better start. But it is not a critical phase. There are other more important things to avoid, like a hole in the boat, missing a buoy, or starting early. When looking at the leg in more detail, I think there will be some small choices to make and if the others want to catch me they will have to be fully committed. At one point, the fleet will have a blast. I will have to go with my own analysis, according to my own feelings. We'll see what happens after. The ranking is quite clear in my head. There are three boats between 30 and 33 minutes, after it is 50 minutes or an hour. Anyway I plan to arrive in Cherbourg as a leader, so that there is no calculation to make.'
Morgan Lagravière (Vendée): 'I'll approach this leg the right way. Today, I am second overall but sixth in the final stage. I will try to stay in the same state of mind as before, trying to sail the best possible way. I had a lot of trouble on the second stage and I'm eager to return at sea with a boat that's fully functional. It will still be long enough this time. I will address it more as an attacker than as someone who will defend his second place.'
Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire): 'This morning I got up a little grumpy, but now that I'm on the boat, I am so excited. I want to enjoy myself. It's a nice windy day and we should enjoy that as it should not last. If I manage to sail as well as on the first two stages, it won't be bad, even though I made some few mistakes. I'd like to do so much better.'
Yoann Richomme (DLBC): 'My shoulder still hurts, my movements are restricted, but overall it's going OK. I finished the first leg like this, the second also, so no worries. At worst, I'll take it easy on this stage and go home like that. I have not done a great Solitaire so far, so I am planning to make some options on this final stage.
'I will not hesitate in trying to make a good leg and score points for the overall standings, even if it implies taking some risks. I know I have three boats just before me within a very short time. One of my goals is to improve my 19th position of my previous Solitaire last year. I will do my best to catch up. I'm really happy to return to England, the route will be super-interesting, there are a few shots to take and I'll be right in it.'
Top 10 at the Radio France buoy:
1 - Nicolas Lunven (Generali)
2 - Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23)
3 - Morgan Lagravière (Vendée)
4 - Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012)
5 - Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert)
6 - Thomas Normand (Financière de l'Echiquier)
7 - Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat)
8 - Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Bûches)
9 - Fred Duthil (Sepalumic)
10 - Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire)
La Solitaire website