Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Solitaire du Figaro: Second Leg - skippers leave sunny Spain for Brest

Figaro fleet start from Spain. Image copyright Courcoux-Marmara/Le Figaro.

by Carla Anselmi

The 45 sailors competing on the 41st edition of La Solitaire du Figaro got off today at 14:00 from the Spanish town of Gijon, under sunny skies with 8/9 knots of breeze from the North. Internationally renowned skipper Yann Elies on Generali Europe Assistance takes the lead.

On perfect time, under clear skies and with a good northerly breeze of around 7/8 knots the 45 boats strong fleet crossed the starting line, just two miles outside the harbour of Gijon, on the Atlantic Spanish coast. The Race Committee promptly hoisted the individual recall flag as five skippers were over the line: Sébastien Josse, Jeanne Gregoire, Erwan Tabarly, Jérémie Beyou and the Italian Pietro D'Alì.

13 minutes later, Yann Eliès (Generali Europ Assistance) was first around the Seamobile mark, with a good 15 lengths led on the second placed, Alexis Loison (All Mer Ineo Gdf Suez). They were followed by Laurent Gouezigoux (Trier c’est préserver) in third and Nicolas Jossier (Impulsion Entreprendre en Pays Granvillais) in fourth. Fifth was Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel).

In a spectacular display of coloured spinnakers the fleet then headed to the second gate, the Radio France mark. Portoguese Fracisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO TEAM) was the first non-French skipper to round the Radio France mark in 17th position overall. Young German/French female sailor Isabelle Joschke (Synergie) was 25th, Swiss Bernard Stamm (Cheminée Poujoulat) 26th, Briton Jonny Malbon (Artemis) 34th and Italian Pietro D'Alì (I.NOVA.3), who had to go back to re-cross the start line as he was reported over the line, is trailing in 40th.

Top ten at the Radio France mark
1. Yann Eliès (Generali Europ Asssistance)
2. Alexis Loison (All Mer Ineo Gdf Suez)
3. Laurent Gouezigoux (Trier c’est préserver)
4. Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel)
5. Nicolas Jossier (Impulsion Entreprendre en Pays Granvillais)
6. Eric Drouglazet (Luisina)
7. Laurent Pellecuer (
8. Yoann Richomme (DLBC) 1er bizuth
9. Frédéric Rivet (Vendée 1)
10. Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham)

Fleet start off Gijon. Image copyright Courcoux-Marmara/Le Figaro.

The fleet now face their first night at sea, according to Sylvain Mondon from Météo-France overnight the 45 skippers will have to deal with two incoming fronts to cross the ridge in the Bay of Biscay. Sailing up to the first passage, the SN1 mark which is 235 from Gijon, the fleet will sail in 8/12 knots airs which will progressively shifting tot o W/NW. Tomorrow night the north-westerly breeze will be well established and pretty gusty, topping 20/25 knots and with a fairly strong swell.
To be noted that the length of Leg 2 has been recalculated by the Race Direction, the route to Brest is not 418 miles as previously announced but 385 miles.

Quotes from the sailors before the start:
Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air)
“We will be busy, no doubt: strategy, manoeuvring… a much more complicated route than you can expect to the first mark SN1. I rested perfectly in Gijon as we spent so much energy on the first leg. Being in the lead? I try not to hover to much about that, each leg is a new race, and this one is going to be tricky. There is a chance to pile huge disadvantages: do you remember last year when Jérémie Beyou made up for an hour on Yann Eliès (exactly 54 minutes, ed.note), between La Coruna andd Saint-Gilles-Croix de Vie? “

Romain Attanasio (Savéol)
«We’re expecting fast racing for the second leg, which is a bit of a homecoming for us. As usual leaving Spain is going to be tricky. Then we will be sailing at good speed heading for SN1, yet it’s later when we’ll have to go up along Brittany coast where you have to play your cards, choose well, deal with the fronts and especially with tides and currents. I’m still on a learning curve, and experience counts. I need to be careful of fatigue, because a clear mind is always needed to make a good strategy.”

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat)
“My first leg was all right, I will try to go on like that.. this time we’re probably going to wear our foul weather gear, nothing serious though! We’re expecting some good breeze and some rain too, but that’s life… The strategy is to be in the pack and then take your best options up the coast of Brittany and adapt no matter what we’ll have.”

Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat)
“I’m glad we’ll have some stiffer breeze than forecasted, with some fronts, but I guess the first twenty miles could be the hardest ones. It’s never easy to leave Spain.”

Karine Fauconnier (Eric Bompard Cachemire)
“The race will not be decided at SN1, we will have some nice upwind sailing, tacking along the Brittany coast and some strategy to plan carefully the Sein and Goulet the Brest passages. You need to be mentally and physically at the top. What I’ve learned in the first leg is that it’s not over until it’s over, the last option is the most important one. As for me, I must deal better with exhaustion to remain clear minded to the finish”

Solitaire du Figaro