• Tuesday Update: The Fleet Passes The Needles

    Racing towards a depression which has brought them strengthening winds and heavy rain as they reach eastwards up the Channel, the fleet on the second leg of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro are being led by Yoann Richomme (Hellowork-Groupe Telegramme), who has eked out a lead of nearly four miles on second placed Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) early this morning.

    Richomme. Leg 1 winner, reported gusts of more than 35-knots and short, steep confused seas as he battled towards the Needles Fairway buoy which was about 35 nautical miles ahead of him on what has been pretty much a 160 miles straight line speed test since passing Bishop Rock yesterday afternoon.

    The muscular conditions have exacted a toll on the fleet. Three solo skippers reported that they have abandoned the 535-mile stage from Kinsale to Roscoff; Cécile Laguette (Eclisse), Martin Le Pape (Skipper MACIF 2017) and Thomas Ruyant (ADVENS – Fondation de la mer) are all heading directly to the finish port. Winds are expected to start to diminish late morning.

    British skippers Will Harris (Hive Energy) and Alan Roberts (Sea Cat Services) have profited as they plough through home waters offshore of the English Riviera, at speeds between 12 and 14 knots in conditions which are proving an acid test for the sailors and their new Figaro Beneteau 3s which were all just launched in the spring.

    For many this will be the most sustained period of winds of 30+ knots they will have sailed in. Harris, in particular, said before the start in Kinsale that he was especially pleased to have raced the windy Solo Concarneau, the final event before this La Solitaire which many sat out to rest and prepare.


    Harris is up to tenth this morning at 13 miles behind the leader, Richomme, and Roberts is 12th some two miles behind his fellow Brit.

    Sixth placed Fabien Delahaye (Loubsol), reported: “It is full on washing machine conditions. It is cold and it is very wet. It is not very nice but it is hard. I have spent a little time inside after the manoeuvres. It is safer in here. Twice we have changed to gennaker and hoisting the main a little and have been going fast, but then had to drop it all down a bit since the beginning of the night. I was averaging 15 knots for a while earlier in the night but now it is a punishment. At the moment I am under reefed main and solent and have 36 knots and gusts to 38. I am making 12 knots and the boat is jumping waves so it is a good test for the boat. I have no problems but we need to be a bit careful because it would be easy to get hurt. This should not last too long. The wind will head, moving to the right, and we will end up on the other side of the low pressure, so in Easterly winds and calm down.”

    And leader Richomme concurred: “The conditions are quite muscular, 30 knots with gusts to 35. The boat is going well and behaving nicely other than jumping from wave to wave at 12 to 13 knots. It is magical. We are keeping up good speeds as we head towards the centre of this depression. I am keeping an eye on things from inside as much as I can rather than be outside. These are the biggest conditions we have had but not terrible. It is good test for the boat.”


    Between nine and ten this morning, local time, the strong winds and heavy rain abated abruptly for the leaders of the second stage of La Solitaire and with it the expected wind shift into the northeast

    Between nine and ten this morning, local time, the strong winds and heavy rain abated abruptly for the leaders of the second stage of La Solitaire and with it the expected wind shift into the northeastAfter a brutal night, battling winds of 30 to 35 knots, the clouds cleared a bit as the leaders tacked.

    At around 1100hrs local time this morning Yoann Richomme (Hellowork-Groupe Telegramme) leads Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) by 3.8 miles on starboard tack, the stage one winner having built a nice cushion to windward of his rival. The top five, Richomme, Le Cléa’ch, Adrien Hardy (Sans nature pas de future), Gildas Mahé (Breizh Cola) and Morgan Lagravière (Voile d’engagment) were all on the same tack, less than four miles behind the leader and all slanted towards the Dorset coast, heading in to the east of Weymouth Bay. The gap back to sixth is another two miles.

    Alan Roberts (Sea Cat Services) has done well for staying closer to the English coast and has worked up to eighth but has ended up out of phase with the boats ahead of him. Will Harris (Hive Energy) continues to hold 11th to windward now of a big pack of boats at around 14 miles behind the leaders who still had about 20 miles to sail to the Needles Fairway turning mark.

    Three skippers retired during the night with problems with the seals around the foil aperture Cécile Laguette (Eclisse), Martin Le Pape (Skipper Macif 2017) and Thomas Ruyant (Advens-Fondation de la maer). Reports to the Race Direction boat are that Arthur Le Vaillant (Leyton) and Damien Cloarec (@Damien Cloarec Skipper) have had similar problems but are managing to carry on. But after the night that has just passed, how many will still be at 100%?


    After beating upwind since around 0900hrs this morning when the wind went ahead, Yoann Richomme has managed to keep both Armel Le Cléac'h and Morgan Lagravière under wraps to lead at the easternmost turn of Stage 2 from Kinsale to Roscoff.

    As they tacked upwind off the Dorset coast between Swanage and Poole, leader Richomme has held distance on both and managed to stay ahead of Adrien Hardy who took a more offshore line.

    After a brutal night racing along the English coast from the Scillies Yoann Richomme led around the Needles Fairway mark this afternoon at 1409hrs local time and was first to set his kite again.

    Hardy’s choice to stay out in the tidal current paid and he rounded the buoy 12 minutes and 11 second behind having moved up to in second. Le Cléac’h is 20 minutes behind the leader Richomme.

    Top five at Needles Fairway.

    1- Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Telegrame Groupe) at 1409hrs local

    2- Adrien Hardy (Sans nature pas de future) at + 12 m and 11 s

    3- Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) at 20 m and 54 s from the leader

    4- Morgan Lagravière (Voile d’engagement) at 26 m and 20 s from the leader

    5- Gildas Mahe (Breizh Cola Equi Tea) 26m and 30s behind the leader

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Next Stop, Kingsale For Figaro Fleet started by Photoboy View original post