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La Solitaire du Figaro: Rookie Beaudart on top - Legends in the bay - Course 2 reversed

by La Solitaire du Figaro 26 Aug 2022 15:50 PDT 26 August 2022
Davy Beaudart - Solitaire du Figaro Stage 1 © Alexis Courcoux

For the first time since 1990, the final year on the Figaro Solo of the Half Tonners, when a certain Yves Parlier won the first stage from Port Bourgenay to Vigo, there is a rookie on the top of the La Solitaire du Figaro leaderboard after the first leg.

La Solitaire first timer Davy Beaudart, who, like Parlier made his name in the Mini 650 class, had actually narrowly led Fred Duthil into the pretty bay of Port-La-Forêt early on Thursday. But in his fatigued state misread a buoy and let the wily, pursuing Duthil through to take line honours and what should have been the fifth stage victory of his 12 La Solitaires career.

Beaudart later rued his error, "I went around the wrong buoy and by the time I turned back around, Fred was back in front. The mistake was a mixture of excitement, fatigue, too many emotions."

But on Thursday afternoon Duthil was penalised a statuary 30 minutes by the International Jury for a ruptured engine seal which relegated him to third.

An experienced already successful Rookie

Beaudart, 37, may be new to the Figaro Beneteau 3 class but he has a long and distinguished history in the Mini 650 class winning a dozen major honours between 2001 and 2018. He has been a respected friend of Vendee Globe skipper Louis Burton since they first met in 2008 sailing Burton's diminutive Ron Holland Manzanita quarter tonner. In 2010 Beaudart helped prepare the Bureau Vallée Class 40 for Burton's first Route du Rhum.

Burton and Beaudart are cut from the same cloth, sharing the same love of speed, and indeed take a certain pleasure in hard won results on a lesser budget and less training than some of their rivals. Beaudart's winning move to the west, along with Duthil et al, is an initiative worthy of his pal's big dive south in the last Vendée Globe. And just as the renegade Burton runs out of Saint Malo and does not train with the Brittany poles, so Beaudart is no full time professional and runs a boatyard in Hennebont near Lorient which he founded in 2011 and with which he sponsors his boat Nauty'mor.

Before they sailed together on the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre Burton said, "What I like about Davy is his incredible love of a job well done, he is a meticulous sailor. He is someone who likes to take up challenges, at sea and during the race, he completely disconnects from what connects him with the land... He has only one objective: to go fast to make the best place possible."

In Nantes last week Beaudart had made it clear his only aspiration was to make a strong showing in the nine strong Beneteau Rookie division. He said, "A good performance on the water comes from the simple pleasure of sailing and enjoying going up against the others. Obviously I do not have the same level as those who train all year round in this class but I will not change my way of approaching the stage. But if there are shots I will go for them. I said before the start that I would like to get on the rookie podium in this 2022 edition. I am now two hours ahead of the next rookie and I just want to make sure to keep it that way."

The Key Numbers

So now the rookie Beaudart leads the 34 strong field into Stage 2 which starts Sunday 1300hrs, a more typical Channel stage from Port-La-Foret to Eddystone to the Channel Islands and on to the finish at Royan south of La Rochelle. He has a margin of just three minutes over Philppe Hartz a French former marine commando while Duthil, runner up in 2020, is now third at 28 minutes and 59 seconds. The second rookie is Guillaume Pirouelle (Région Normandie) who is actually 1hr 41mins behind the leader. Pirouelle was the favourite for the Beneteau des Bizuth overall and was tipped for a top five overall.

Top tipped Tom Laperche (Région Bretagne) led the race all the way to back the Scillies before being becalmed. But he led the peloton for most of the time and finished in ninth place, seven minutes behind Pirouelle.

After finishing Laperche said, "The race went pretty well for me. I had three great days. It was going well on a nice course. The weather was a little complicated more than was expected and that opened up opportunities. And latterly the wind took a long time to arrive in the direction we expected. Then with a new start in Scilly. I expected the gap to narrow a bit. But on the other hand, I had not really anticipated that groups really behind could go out on a limb like they did. But even so I am I am happy. I had a lot of fun. It was good on the boat, making good decisions, working the board. That is the most important. And whatever I am behind we know that it is recoverable "

Germany's Jorge Riechers (Alva Yachts) finds himself top International in fourth at 1hr 4 mins behind the leader and in the pursuit of the Vivi Trophy he is nearly 50 minutes ahead of second placed Nils Palmieri (Teamwork) of Switzerland. Ireland's Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) is 1 min 17 secs behind the Swiss skipper and 1hr 26 mins off the podium. Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) is 2hrs 25 mins behind in 26th with Pep Costa of Spain (Team Play to B-Terravia) seven minutes behind in 27th.

The Heroes Race

At the invitation of Port-La-Forêt, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend, the Heroes Regatta was contested. This fun regatta mustered a bunch of legends of French ocean racing including Jean Le Cam, François Gabart, Vincent Riou, Armel Le Cléac'h, Charlie Dalin, and even Philippe Poupon. All came to have fun and put on a show and highlight the links between the 53-year-old La Solitaire du Figaro, the port and the Pôle Finistère Course au Large.

The races were contested in Pabouk, lovely little local vintage boats with a vintage look, big classic dinghies. Philippe Poupon and François Gabart were the winners of the two races of the day. Present, Jean Le Cam, one of the triple winners of La Solitaire du Figaro, would not have missed this meet up for all the world. "I have participated in Solitaire 16 times which has occupied a good part of my life. Here, in Port-La-Forêt, there is also the Pole which brings together many racers who train together to try to be the best possible. The Pôle Finistère Course au Large is special because it is better to be bad among the best than good among the bad." Said Le Cam before boarding his Pabouk.

Flash Info, Course 2 Is Reversed

Race Direction of La Solitaire du Figaro, in consultation with OC Sport Pen Duick and Météo Consult, took the decision this Friday to modify the direction of the course of the second stage of La Solitaire du Figaro due to the uncertain weather forecast for the Bay of Biscay.

Yann Chateau, Race Director of La Solitaire du Figaro explains:

"Routings currently show a long transition zone in the Bay of Biscay, which would see the fleet arrive in Royan overnight from Thursday into Friday. If we had kept the keep the original route and decided to shorten it at to the Eddystone lighthouse it would end up being a round trip reaching in the Channel which would be of limited sporting interest. But the objective of the race is to have varied, intense strategic and tactical racing exploring the Celtic Sea, the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay. And we always tend to set four day stages. And if we overrun we reduce the recovery time. So starting with the Channel Islands before Eddystone, we keep the possibility of adapting the route to stick to four days at sea. But the models are actually improving and hopefully we won't have to adapt the course."

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