Generali Solo 2011 is one of several events that makes up the French Solo Offshore Racing Championship. The event spans an average of 250 miles where the solo sailors spend a month racing between Marseille, Leucate and Hyères/Porquerolles.
Jean-Pierre Nicol had announced a port-to-port hop coloured by daring, calculated risk and tenacity. On crossing the finish line in Porquerolles shortly before 0800 hours GMT this morning in second position, just 19 seconds astern of the winner, Jean-Pierre Nicol has more than kept his word. In an offshore race generously spiced by the capricious weather characteristic of the Mediterranean, which served up a mixture of steady winds and phases of calm conditions, the skipper of Bernard Controls constantly demonstrated an inspired strategy, following it through to the end with every move he made. Once again showing himself to be one of the major players in this Generali Solo, he has confirmed his capacity to put up a consistent performance and, rather logically, he has earned himself second place in the provisional general ranking.
Fourth in the port-to-port hop between Marseille and Leucate, Jean-Pierre Nicol fully intended to drive the point home on setting out from the Languedoc port, and really show that he has what it takes offshore as well as around the cans. Immediately plunging into conditions which were favourable for speed, the skipper of Bernard Controls opted for an inshore option the minute the first strategic choices opened up. As he then traversed the Golfe du Lion, he made the most of the Tramontana to rack up the miles before the forecast drop in wind strength. Perfectly negotiating the transitions, it was once again a course hugging the coast, in his quest for the thermal breeze, which was where the Breton sailor made the difference: 'The option to head inshore each time was really down to our router Sylvain Mondon. We had some very precise outlines in mind as we set off from Leucate and then it was necessary to adapt them slightly as it didn’t all go as planned. However, I admit that I’m very happy with the way I overcame certain difficulties. Aside from the Tramontana and the Mistral at the start, the wind was hitting us from every which way and that’s what launched the 'battle of the thermals'. In all the transition phases, I nearly always took the initiative. I’m beginning to really get a feel for my boat and know what I want. I feel like I’m starting to get wiser and that may be the reason why I’m often at the front of the pack...'
The delight of aspiring to be the best
Despite the intense heat currently permeating the Mediterranean, despite the fatigue which is forcing the competitors to dig deep into their last sources of energy, Jean-Pierre Nicol has never given up. 'This particular stage ended with a gybing battle between Francisco Lobato and I and ultimately he finished 19 seconds ahead of me. I might have been able to win this race but I saw Fabien Delahaye coming back into it and I suddenly decided to control the most threatening of my adversaries in the general ranking. I am very happy to have put up a good performance and move up onto the second step of the podium, even though the competition is extremely tight. With just a few days until the end of this event, I am delighted to be in contention for a podium place and why not victory too. This was by real objective when I began to compete in this Generali Solo. I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to show I can be consistent, though I’m well aware that it will be an entirely different ball game in the Solitaire (du Figaro) and that there is nothing here to suggest how that will pan out'.
Moored in the fabulous island setting of Porquerolles, the solo sailors will have nearly two days to relax before they attack the home straight. Friday and Saturday will see them racing in the Grand Prix Hyères – Porquerolles, where the sailors will have to draw on their final reserves. As they sharpen their weapons for the final battle, one thing is certain, Jean-Pierre Nicol will be going for broke in a bid to hoist Bernard Controls as high as possible!
For more information about John-Pierre Nichols click here
. Generali Solo website
(only in French)