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Thread: Next Stop, Kingsale For Figaro Fleet

  1. #11
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    A Rocky Start To Leg 3





    Tanguy LeTurquais ran aground on the rocks of the eastern tip of Alderney around 1330hrs French time.
    Despite several attempts to get off unaided Race Direction sent an inflatable RIB to help.
    Unfortunately on the falling tide, Quéguiner-Kayak was stuck fast on rocks while there was still about
    twenty centimetres of tidal range still to fall.

    Bob Escoffier’s motor trimaran Express, which accompanies the fleet as media boat and guard ship,
    tried to pass a line which was connected to a spinnaker halyard to tilt the Figaro Bénéteau 3 over
    enough to get it off. Finally, Le Turquais has stayed on board knowing that the tide was not going down much more.




    French 2012 Olympian Pierre Leboucher, who lies second overall, stole the limelight from local heroes Armel Le Cléach and Jérémie Beyou as the third stage of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro started on their home waters, the Bay of Morlaix in northern Brittany today, Sunday 16 June.



    TRACKER


    Leboucher, 28, who is racing his third La Solitaire, started smartly and established an early lead on the 10 mile showcase circuit before the 46-strong fleet left the famous rocky, tidal Finistère bay behind. It is on these waters which the current Vendée Globe champion Le Cléach, three times La Solitaire winner Beyou and past Figaro winner Nico Lunven all grew up as close friends and sparring partners.
    The opening, preliminary circuit of what promises to be a challenging, light winds 450-mile third stage from Roscoff to Roscoff, proved to be a perfect spectacle for the huge crowds which turned out on one of the most exciting days of the multi-stage annual race’s ten day stop which incorporates two starts and two finishes.





    Under leaden skies which parted periodically to allow slivers of sunshine to dapple the bay, Leboucher (Guyot Environment) underlined why he is presently the biggest threat to overall race leader Yoann Richomme, who started this stage with a comprehensive margin of two hours and 17 minutes. In 15 knots of southwesterly wind, by the first turning mark, after an exciting, competitive two mile beat, Leboucher had eked out a decent lead ahead of Eric Péron (French Touch). Briton Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) made his best start of the three stages so far and was fifth round the first two marks while compatriot Will Harris (Hive Energy) was in the top ten and going well. Surprisingly, Richomme started modestly and was nineteenth.







    As he docked out Roberts, who is 12th overall in this years Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, explained the leg ahead: “This leg is a lot more tidal. Going through the Channel Islands will be key and thankfully this morning the weather forecasts starting to agree a bit more. We should see some more breeze to Videocoq the first mark (at Granville) nicely. Then to Alderney. There, you need to sniggle through to get the tide, if not there can be big differences there. Then there is the option to got north of the TSS. It will be dependent on the time you get there. For me this is not a high risk leg. It will be more of the same as I have been doing; stick with the pack and be conservative and fast. I am not going out to win this leg I am trying to stay in the bunch and let some of the top guys drop out of the bunch.”


    This third stage looks like it will be the critical decider of the four legs which comprise this 50th anniversary edition Solitaire URGO Le Figaro. It knits together some of the most renowned tidal passages in the west of the Channel and with light, unpredictable winds forecast including periods of calm, there will certainly be splits in the fleet which may extend to several hours.






    Initially the fleet heads east on the heels of a solid breeze passing by the iconic Mont Saint Michel to turn at buoy by Granville where the wind is forecast to die. From there it is 60 miles up to Alderney opposite the Cherbourg peninsula and the infamous raz de Blanchard or Alderney Race where the tidal current sluices between the island and the Cap de la Hague.


    Then it is 90 miles across the Channel, probably staying south of the Casquets TSS, although perhaps there might be more wind to the north. The northernmost turning mark is Hands Deep which is three miles to the northwest of Eddystone Light. The it is back across the Channel to the Fromveur mark between Ushant and the TSS, then to Chaussée de Sein (130 miles), through raz de Sein and the chenal de Four up to Portsall Grande Basse buoy (50 miles), repeating the same finish leg as Stage 2, in to Roscoff.



    Weather advisor to some of the sailors Christian Dumand explained what is ahead: “The wind should decrease around Granville in the early morning. Then they go to the next mark with about 10 knots then to Hands Deep. But here, by Eddystone, is where the ridge will be encountered and here the wind will shift from the southwest to the northeast with very light winds. That will be one of the keys. The end of the race is very unsure. It should be northeasterly to come back to Ushant and then a little trough develops for the approach to the finish but we don’t know where. The key may be this evening around Saint Brieuc before Granville because there could be no wind in the north. Then the current at Alderney will be key, and then the transition through the ridge tomorrow evening.”





    The overall race leader Richomme sounded confident as he left the dock this morning. “It does not look that bad going up to Alderney which we should get to tomorrow morning. I could be wrong, there could be a light patch on the bay going over there before Granville, but we might be OK and go through easily. Tomorrow morning we will be going straight into the tide going west towards Plymouth. That might be quite tricky. There might be the option to go north of the TSS. I probably won’t do that except under extreme circumstances. The tricky part is the transition going south across the high pressure ridge. I think the first ones to pop out there will have the advantage, how big I am not sure.”



    Asked if he felt the pressure of leading into a leg which holds so many potential pitfalls, Richomme said: “I feel really confident. I take this leg by leg. I don’t want to think about anything else. I know the ranking roughly but I don’t look at it. I know each leg is hard enough and I take each leg at a time. I feel good. I know the key points. I am just aiming for the top ten. That is what I always do. And then for the first half of this race I will be just doing my race for sure. Then if I need to, like on the first one, I will control a little bit just to make sure I can control if I need to. I want to do my race. I don’t want to do a race under pressure to watch everyone. There are just too many people. I will do my race.”





    In second place on the overall ranking, Leboucher is reckoned to be one of the rising stars of La Solitaire. Sixth at the 2012 Olympics in the 470 as helm with crew Vincent Garos, his coach from the Pôle Finistere Christian Le Pape says he is “a force of nature who has excellent control driving downwind, a finesse at the helm and intuitive sensations that make a big difference as the boat accelerates “.
    Behind Leboucher in third, at two hours and 28 minutes behind Richomme is Armel Le Cléac’h who will be racing in his backyard on a course where rock hopping and hugging the coast to seek relief from the strong tides may be essential. A double winner of La Solitaire, once by just 13 seconds overall, the skipper from Saint Pol, the next town south of Roscoff, Le Cléac’h will be a threat on this stage, especially as the accumulated fatigue and stress impinges on the decision making processes.


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  2. #12
    Some current moving through there, thats for sure!

  3. #13
    The Helen Keller method of navigation?

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    Tidal Trap Tangles Tanguy Le Turquais

    IS THE STAGE 3 PODIUM ALREADY SET?

    Less than 24 hours after the start of the 450-nautical mile third stage of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, Alex Loison, (Region Normandie), is currently leading a breakaway trio which has earned a cushion of 18 miles since they escaped through a key tidal gate off the north eastern tip of the Channel Islands.

    Loison made a clear pass of the point at the Alderney lighthouse at around 1130hrs this morning, the light on the Channel island marking the west side of the notorious raz Blanchard as the French call the Alderney race, where the tide can run to 12 knots. Only Gildas Mahé, (Breizh Cola-EquiThé), and Anthony Marchand, (Groupe Royers-Secours Populaire), made it past with Loison who had led all the way from the dawn rounding of the Videcoq mark at Granville, in the south east corner of the bay of Saint Malo, early this morning.

    As the three musketeers made their getaway at between five and seven knots, their stricken rivals tried all they could to wriggle free of the tidal currents grip. Some tried to sneak in and out of the rocks on the Alderney shore seeking relief from the fast flowing water. Others worked painstakingly to the north and east only to be sluiced back south again.






    At 1700hrs this Tuesday evening, Loison still had around 45 miles to sail to the most northerly turn of the course, Hands Deep by Eddystone Rock to the south of Plymouth. Three times winner Michel Desjoyeaux (Lumibird) was leading the chasing pack, but with nearly 20 miles of advantage, the podium for this stage may already be set.

    Several boats touched the rocks. Worst affected was Tanguy Le Turquais (Groupe Queguiner-Kayak) who was trapped for more than two hours before he was helped off by a RIB from the Race Direction’s Etoile, the media and safety boat for the race. Le Turquais is currently heading to shore to check his boat, although there was not thought to be serious damage.

    “I’m still suffering from shock,” the solo skipper reported. “There were a lot of boats in between two lots of rocks off the eastern tip of Alderney. I joined them moving in behind them just ten metres or so in but the tide was going out. And I just got caught out. Those in front got across, but I got stuck there. The bulb got stuck in between two rocks. There was hardly any wind as I tried to move backwards. Now, the tide is going out further, so I’m well and truly stuck on the rocks. It’s not very comfortable. The current is strong here with lots of whirlpools in the water. And the boat is moving around on the rock with the current. It’s horrible to watch. I can’t see any leaks, but there are some nasty cracking noises. I’m afraid the boat is going to be damaged with me in it.”





    It is a particularly stressful time for overall race leader Yoann Richomme, (HelloWork-Groupe Telegramme), who is in seventh place. The saving grace for Richomme is that the three leaders are a long way behind him on the general classification. Loison left Roscoff Sunday with a deficit of 10hrs 31 mins, Mahé is more than 10 hours off the lead and Marchand more than 11 hours.

    Before he escaped the clutches of the race, Richomme aired some of his frustration: “The tidal current changed just as Alex (Loison) was passing. We were 200-300m behind him and the door shut in our face. It was like a conveyor belt. Sheer hell. I thought I could get through close to the rocks, but it didn’t work out. It’s a good way to test the boat in this current, going to port then to starboard. It’s very physical. In the rankings at 1500hr Alex was about twenty miles ahead. We’re still stuck here, so he’s extending his lead. It’s not good for us at all. I don’t know what is going to happen later though. The wind could get up. We never know. I must admit, I prefer not to spend time looking at that and calculating how far behind we will be.”

    In his favour, Richomme had second overall Pierre Leboucher five miles behind him and third placed Armel Le Cléac’h, was 12 miles behind in 35thplace.

    The international competitors, who are vying for the Vivi Trophy, are having a tough leg. At 1700hrs, Brit Will Harris, (Hive Energy), was the top ranked amongst them in 14thplace with fellow countryman Alan Roberts, (Seacat Services) in 26th. Irishman Tom Dolan was 33rdafter reportedly touching the rocks earlier this afternoon, while the others struggle in the currents to get out of the bottom 10.


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    The Rich Get Richer



    Alexis Loison, (Region Normandie), continues to assert his dominance on the shortened 400-nautical mile third
    stage of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, having led the fleet for much of the last 48 hours.




    Alongside Gildas Mahe, (Breizh Cola-Equi-Thé), and Anthony Marchand, (Groupe Royer-Populaire Secours),
    the trio have earned themselves an incredible buffer of 52 miles over the rest of the fleet, having escaped
    through a key tidal gate off the north eastern tip of the Channel Islands, which so many others fell foul of,
    describing it as ‘hellish’ and ‘disastrous.’ (You can watch an incredible video of the fleet battling on the passage past Alderney here.)

    However, with just one-nautical mile separating the leading threesome at 1500BST today, there will be no let up.
    Their eyes will be firmly fixed on each other, while their heads are surely considering the impact their substantial
    lead will have on the overall race rankings, as they race towards Ushant.



    TRACKER

    The cumulative fatigue of three mentally and physically gruelling stages will be setting in more than ever for the solo skippers,
    but one man who will be getting very little rest is the current La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro overall leader Yoann Richomme, (
    Hellowork-Groupe Telegramme).

    At 1435BST today, Richomme was in 16th place, having just rounded the Hand Deeps mark by Eddystone Lighthouse
    approximately 10 hours and 20 minutes behind leader Loison. For Richomme, who came into Stage 3 with a 10 hour,
    31-minute advantage over Loison, he is hanging on to his overall lead by a whisker. Having diminished to just 11 minutes,
    that margin is looking increasingly fragile and eyes will now be on the tidal gate at Ushant. The overall race lead could be
    determined by how quick the final miles to the finish are which could yet turn things on its head.


    Originally from Cherbourg, Loison has been a professional skipper since 2006 - the same year he first entered
    La Solitaire at 21-years-old. Since then he has competed in the annual solo, multi-stage race an incredible 13 times,
    including his one career leg win in 2014 when the fleet raced to Plymouth, UK.










    Speaking this afternoon as he looks ahead to the remaining 88 miles of this leg, Loison said:
    “We’re advancing gently towards Ushant. I’m not surprised they shortened the course.
    There is still the sail around Ushant, which isn’t going to be easy. I think we’ll be in amongst
    the rocks at some point. I would have liked to be out in front alone, but now I have a couple
    of friends close to me. It’s not bad, as we can see what the others are doing and adapt.”


    Last year, Loison worked with one of those close friends, Marchard, on a two boat programme.
    Talking earlier today, Marchand, who was second overall in last years La Solitaire and won the
    first and last legs, commented: “We have our little battle between us three, the goal is to try to
    catch up and pass Alexis. I will try to position myself well, choose the tactics correctly and after that,
    we will see once the finish line is passed. I try not to think too much about it, even if it is in the corner
    of my mind. What is certain is that it is nice to recover and erase the hours lost stupidly on the first stage.”









    The rest of the fleet are currently bunched into two fairly tight groups. A split at the TSS exclusion
    zone at Casquets off the Cherbourg peninsula late last night has paid dividends for those who
    favoured the southern route. Amongst them was Martin Le Pape, (Skipper Macif 2017),
    who is currently in fourth place and was the first of the chasing pack to round Hand Deeps pursued by
    three times overall leader Michel Desjoyeaux (Lumibird) who is certainly strengthening his overall challenge.

    In touch with the leading chase group is Irishman Tom Dolan, (Smurfit Kappa), who by 1500BST this afternoon,
    had worked his way up from 33rd place last night to eighth. Not far behind in 13th is Brit Will Harris, (Hive Energy)
    and both are now enjoying the relative respite of the channel with less than 150 miles to the finish.

    The leading threesome are expected to arrive at the finish in the Bay of Morlaix early on Wednesday
    and with a gap that is currently around six hours to fourth placed Le Pape, it’s not really a case of who
    will be on the podium for this leg, but more what positions will they be in.









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    Anthony Marchand wins stage 3

    Published on 19/06/2019

    Anthony Marchand, 34, from Plomeur, southwest of Quimper, has taken victory in Stage 3 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro this morning, crossing the line at 09:29CET after 2 days, 19 hours 18 minutes and 36 seconds at sea racing Groupe Royer-Populaire Secours.

    Marchand was fourth at the Videcoq bouy by Granville and actually approached the Alderney race in sixth. But, he saw what was happening inside him and held his course offshore. From there he had a seemingly charmed route round the outside of a raft of stuck boats and he managed to wriggle free in third. The last skipper to escape the raz de Blanchard currents, Marchand was just three miles behind breakaway leader and his good friend Alex Loison.

    It was at the famous island of Ushant in the early hours of this morning that Marchand passed Loison, the long time Stage leader. First Gildas Mahé and then Marchand managed to get through under gennakers, closer to the island to make their own getaway. Along the same coast where Marchand prevailed in to his native Saint Brieuc to win a hotly contested Stage 1 last September, Marchand progressively broke away from Mahé to win Stage 3 this morning, which has seen the fleet race 400 miles from Roscoff to Roscoff. It is last year’s vice champion Marchand’s third stage win in his last seven La Solitaire starts.










    Marchand was fourth at the Videcoq bouy by Granville and actually approached the Alderney race in sixth. But, he saw what was happening inside him and held his course offshore. From there he had a seemingly charmed route round the outside of a raft of stuck boats and he managed to wriggle free in third. The last skipper to escape the raz de Blanchard currents, Marchand was just three miles behind breakaway leader and his good friend Alex Loison.

    It was at the famous island of Ushant in the early hours of this morning that Marchand passed Loison, the long time Stage leader. First Gildas Mahé and then Marchand managed to get through under gennakers, closer to the island to make their own getaway. Along the same coast where Marchand prevailed in to his native Saint Brieuc to win a hotly contested Stage 1 last September, Marchand progressively broke away from Mahé to win Stage 3 this morning, which has seen the fleet race 400 miles from Roscoff to Roscoff. It is last year’s vice champion Marchand’s third stage win in his last seven La Solitaire starts.




    In a competitive fleet of 46 boats, Marchand was one of three dominant forces in this Stage which has taken the skippers from Roscoff to Roscoff via a lap of the channel, alongside Gildas Mahé, (Breizh Cola Equithé) and Alexis Loison, (Regioan Normandie), the latter having led for most of the leg. The trio sailed a textbook Stage as the only three skippers to escape a key tidal gate off the north eastern tip of Alderney in the Channel Islands, which shut behind them leaving their competitors stuck in the sluicing tide while they rolled north across the Channel with an ever increasing lead.

    It was at the island of Ushant in the early hours of this morning that Marchand finally managed to pass long time Stage leader, close friend, training partner and former co-skipper Loison. First Mahé, then Marchand managed to get through Loison, sailing closer to the island under gennakers to make their getaway. Marchand then progressively broke away from Mahé and when he arrived this morning, he was 6 minutes and 12 seconds ahead of him.

    In doing so, Marchand demonstrated great confidence in his new Figaro Beneteau 3 boat but showed too his experience gained through seven previous La Solitaire participations.

    The Frenchman, from Plomeur in Brittany, was overjoyed to have won after such a tough leg. “What a leg! There was a battle between three of us. We all wanted to win, so the fight was on. I’m a bit disappointed for Alexis as he led most of the way. He made a few mistakes towards the end. There were places where we were really in amongst the rocks and didn’t have any charts. The forecasts weren’t reliable.”

    With attention turning to the overall rankings, Marchand continued: “Now I can do the fourth leg as a serious competitor. I’m glad to be back in the game. I was disappointed after the first couple of legs. I lost a lot, although I didn’t make any big mistakes, so this is a boost for me. I didn’t think it could be done, but I’m probably back in the top ten overall. After all the hard work, the first leg in particular was a downer. All three of us lost out at the start of the event and have managed to get back into the contest now.”










    Second placed Mahé, who now has a provisional 55-minute advantage over Loison and a one-hour 10-minute lead on Marchand on the overall rankings, summed up his Stage: “I sailed well on the first night. A bit daring and that paid off. The timing was just right to get around Alderney. Ten minutes later and we would have been stuck. It was straight across the Channel after that. If you’re in the right place, it works out.

    “The wind was unstable during the night around Ushant in amongst the rocks. Scary. I have never seen a scenario like this. It was impossible to sleep last night in amongst the rocks. It was good having the two others with me to keep me going. We haven’t seen gaps like this… 50 miles… since the days of Troussel. I need to get some rest now before the fourth leg. It is all to play for.”

    While the threesome will have some time to enjoy a morning beer on the dock, focus moves to the to the overall rankings. Fourth-placed Martin Le Pape (Skipper Macif 2017) was around 45-nautical miles from the finish when the Stage 3 podium was decided, with Michel Desjoyeaux, (Lumibird) hanging onto his coattails since passing the Hand Deeps mark at Eddystone Lighthouse yesterday afternoon. For three times overall winner Desjoyeaux, who was ninth on the overall rankings before this Stage, his current position looks strong and it’s likely we’ll see an upgrade in his overall position when he finishes.

    With the clock counting down, most eyes are now on current La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro overall leader Yoann Richomme, (Hellowork-Groupe Telegramme), who will be trying to gain back every minute he can.

    When this leg started on Sunday afternoon in Roscoff, the race leading 35-year-old Frenchman, who won La Solitaire in 2016, had a seemingly impregnable cushion amounting to between 10 and 11-hours on this morning’s podium finishers.

    But as they crossed the finish line, he was languishing in 12th place, around 10 hours behind them, and so for now, it’s a waiting game as we see how quick his final miles to the finish prove to be.

    Ireland’s Tom Dolan, (Smurfit Kappa), is on course for his best finish of this La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro and is currently in seventh place at the front of a strong group of eight sailors that includes Briton Will Harris, (Hive Energy), who are all within two miles of each other with less than 40 miles to the finish.

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    Slow And Tight Racing In The Fog In Leg 4



    TRACKER


    With 40 nautical miles still to sail to the Owers turning mark off Portsmouth at 1500hrs BST this afternoon, racing within a gradually fading southwesterly breeze, it has been a long, laborious day fighting in the main pack on Stage 4 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro. Fog accompanied by constant drizzle has added to the generally unpleasant English summer conditions as the 500-mile Grand Final showdown from Roscoff to Dieppe passed its theoretical midpoint this morning.











    On familiar waters, Britain’s Will Harris (Hive Energy) has proven well capable of staying with the most accomplished sailors in this highly competitive fleet. Since breaking into the leading trio after a move south early this morning - during which the 26-year-old English solo racer from Surrey self-effacingly admitted he mostly caught up on some sleep, Harris has been trading the lead with the leg 3 winner and last years’ runner up Anthony Marchand (Groupe Royer-Secours Populaire), and Corentin Douguet (NF Habitat). But it is incredibly tight after 48 hours of racing and the top five are within half a mile of the lead with the top ten within a mile.

    There is still over 200 miles to race to the finish line in Dieppe where the 46 boat fleet are expected to arrive Wednesday. Harris, along with all of the top sailors, including General Classification leader Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Groupe Telegramme), have been trying to maximise sleep and rest as they prepared for the coming hours when the wind is set to go very light and thunderstorms are predicted.

    Almost amongst those top sailors is Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa), who has been in the top 10 all day after profiting from a bold move, staying inshore on the Devon coast last night as he and three rivals profited to pass Start Point on a route close to the shore.












    Harris, who finished top rookie in 2016 on his one and only previous La Solitaire, sounded relaxed but quietly focused on the goal of delivering a second top-ten stage finish after his seventh place on Stage 3, reported: “As soon as we arrived in England we could tell we were here because it started raining. It’s not too normal to have this much fog but it is pretty dodgy, and a bit scary at times sailing in it with so many boats in the fleet, we only have about ten metres of visibility and we are going quite fast and so you always have to keep your eyes open and ahead. I have had a few near misses with other boats which I haven’t seen, we are gybing up and down going along, changing direction all the time. So it is very interesting weather.”

    Not fully realising he was doing so well, Harris took his placing in his stride when told by the on-water reporter over the radio: “It is still so open. We are just at Weymouth so there is a long way to go and the forecast just gets crazier and crazier. We are hearing of lightning and very little wind up ahead. It is going to be a real challenge working out the best way to go. For now I am going to stay relaxed, think ahead and know there are still a lot of miles to go. It could get quite intense so I am going to relax and then hopefully when it gets intense I will have a bit more energy than the rest.

    “I went down to the south a bit last night, away from the fleet. In fact I spent a long time sleeping, and when I came back in I was ahead of the group I was chasing. So I am pretty happy about that. I am well rested and well fed and I managed to gain some places.”












    Richomme is 15th at 1.6 miles behind the leading trio this afternoon, saving his energy for the final push in what are expected to be light and random conditions. He said: “It’s quite foggy out here. There are a lot of us grouped together at the front of the fleet. As forecast, there was a front during the night. I’m sailing calmly. There are no real options. It’s going to be complicated with the area of high pressure and thunderstorms moving in. I managed to get a lot of rest, so I am ready to go on the attack later, as it’s going to be long and looks complicated. On board the boats, a lot of us are sleeping, as energy levels are low. I’m just trying to keep up with the frontrunners without necessarily leading the race.”

    The fleet are expected to arrive at Owers at around 2am tomorrow morning, before heading back across the Channel to Ouest Saint-Marcouf in Normandy in north-western France, and onto the finish in Dieppe.
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    Peyron Leads Final Leg Of La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro





    With an accumulated overall lead time of one hour and 11 minutes, and just 85 miles left to sail to the finish of the final leg on Stage 4 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, overall leader Yoann Richomme (HelloWork/Groupe Télégramme) might reflect on the warnings of ‘The Godfather’ Michael Corleone: “Hold your friends close and your enemies closer.”







    But – given the very calm conditions and the likely spread of the fleet through the last night of racing – Richomme can do little more than sail his own race across the bay of the Seine to the finish line in Dieppe.

    After passing around the final turning mark of the course this afternoon, Saint-Marcouf on the east side of the Cherbourg peninsula, the fleet has spread far and wide to follow three basic strategies.

    Richomme therefore has little or no chance of controlling or staying with his five main rivals whose time deficits extend from second placed Gildas Mahé’s at 1 hour 11 minutes, down to fifth placed and top rookie Benjamin Schwartz (Action Contre La Faim), who is 2 hours and 48 minutes behind him on elapsed time after the three stages sailed so far.

    All were within 1.2 miles of him at 1700hrs BST this afternoon. But at average speeds, in the glassy conditions, of between 0.7 and 1.1 knots, anything can happen. And on this particularly engaging 50th anniversary edition of the French multi-stage solo race, there has been no shortage of surprises.












    Richomme, the 2016 overall winner of La Solitaire who went to college in Southampton, last night displayed his nous and confidence in his decisions, tacking away from the leading pack on the way to the Owers mark. Along with Yann Eliés, Eric Péron and Brit Alan Roberts, they worked the change of tides to best effect and made good gains on the fleet.

    Péron (French Touch) has held the lead since the Owers turn, although his middle route across the bay this evening was coming under attack on both sides.

    “Yoann Richomme was one of those who went on the attack at the Isle of Wight,” explained Race Director Francis Le Goff this afternoon from the safety/media boat Étoile. “I think he is confident. He studied in Southampton and I don’t think he spent all his time in the lecture theatres. He must have got out there sailing more than once. He seemed so sure of his option. We’re 90 miles from the finish. Looking at what he has done in all four legs, it’s is looking good for him. We’ll see tomorrow morning.”

    “In the next few hours we have a situation with just about no wind during tonight on the Bay of the Seine,” confirms Yann Château, the ex-racer and weather adviser to Race Direction. “Yoann can do a lot of different things in terms of choices. But using four different weather models there can be a north-south lateral separation of 45 miles (on the 90 mile stage to the finish). There are those who will go offshore looking to get to the new breeze which should come in from the north. There are those who will sail the shortest distance – the rhumb line – and take what comes. And there are those who will stay south, close to the coast looking to work the thermal winds.”









    This one last transition zone, among the many which have marked this memorable La Solitaire, represents the very last chance of overhauling Richomme. But with widespread predictions of brisker winds coming tomorrow morning there will be a sprint finish from Antifer to the line, and that should be good for Richomme, the man who has one hand on his second La Solitaire trophy.

    Sounding cool and confident this afternoon, Richomme said: “I found myself further away from the fleet, further offshore and lost a bit, but nothing too serious. We’re going through a transition before the wind stabilises from the northeast, which should stick with us until we get to Dieppe. The gybe (this afternoon) under spinnaker allowed me to get some sleep and eat. That was great as this is a long leg. There was a little bit of wind allowing us to get away from Saint Marcouf. The current is still hindering us as we want to get north, but when the tide changes it will be easier. It’s a pity that Eric has moved away. It was nice with him close by. But we’ll just continue now on our own way.”

    Alexis Loison, who is seventh this evening at 1.1 miles behind Péron summed up the remaining challenges of the Stage. “There’s been some pleasant sailing between Owers and Saint-Marcouf with us finally getting some sunshine to dry things out. We haven’t had any big thunderstorms, which is why I decided to continue towards Saint-Marcouf. There were some good options off the Isle of Wight, which allowed those who went north to get ahead by Owers. After that it was all a question of speed getting to Saint-Marcouf.



    TRACKER




    “Eric Péron got a lead of half an hour over Yann Eliès thanks to his excellent trajectory and is being followed by most of the fleet. The wind is still northerly with a bit of east in it. It is expected to turn to the left to help us during the return leg. Eric Péron is well ahead, but behind it’s all very close. There may be a transition after Antifer with some light stuff before the northeasterly wind develops. Then it will be a matter of speed again and sailors like Eric Péron and those chasing him should not need to worry. But we need to keep an eye on the light airs around Antifer, because afterwards, the wind will be stronger with 25-30 knots to finish with stronger gusts. We’re going to have to keep up our energy levels for those final hours of racing.”

    The first skippers are expected to arrive in Dieppe early afternoon tomorrow, to round off what has been an exceptional anniversary edition of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro that looks set to continue right through to the finish.

    Track the fleet on the final mile on the official website here (https://www.lasolitaire-urgo.com/en/) and follow the official Twitter account for the latest updates here, (https://twitter.com/SolitaireEng).


    https://www.lasolitaire-urgo.com/en/...-for-the-fleet
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  9. #19
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    Yoann Richomme Wins The 2019 La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro



    Crossing the finish line of Stage 4 in fourth place in Dieppe this afternoon at 12:21:57 CET, Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Telegram Group) has taken a convincing overall win in the 2019 La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro.
    In doing so, he has become the first ever skipper to win the multi-stage event racing in the new foil assisted Figaro Beneteau 3.

    He finished ahead of his nearest rival in the general classification Gildas Mahé, who crossed the line in Dieppe in fifth, leaving the skipper of Breizh Cola Equithé second overall.

    This was the eighth participation in the race for Richomme, who also won it in 2016.





    Richomme said: “I felt relaxed and enjoyed every leg. This was one that was most like the usual Solitaire. I am really moved. I never thought I’d win two. And it’s a special edition too. A couple months ago I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was long and tiring. I almost took the lead last night but fell asleep. The slightest metre lost and you lose a lot. This was a really tough event, which is what it should be. I don’t remember spending as much time out on the water with previous boats. When I left the Isle of Wight after being blocked there, I thought it was far from certain. I saw a lot of St Catherine’s Point.

    It took a lot of work, because it was so unstable. Yesterday we were stuck in light airs and it was very stressful. The autopilot couldn’t cope, so I didn’t get any rest and then during the night I had to keep at it. This morning there were choppy seas and I had to keep working.”








    The final hours of Stage 4, the Grand Final, are delivering a sprint finish worthy of the first La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro to be sailed in the new Beneteau Figaro 3. After a night drifting on the tide looking for the smallest zephyr of breeze, the fleet have regrouped and are racing for Dieppe’s final finish line which is less than 30 miles ahead of them.
    Looking to complete an otherwise disappointing La Solitaire with a consolation victory on the last stage, top seeds such as Vendée Globe winner Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) and three times La Solitaire champion Yann Eliès (Saint Michel) are leading the charge, just a few hundred metres apart. General classification leader Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Groupe Télégramme) is less than half a mile behind in fourth, poised to lift the overall 2019 La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro title. With all his key rivals astern, as if to underline his superiority, Richomme should add to his winning margin on the podium finishers.










    Approaching Fecamp at 0600hrs BST this morning, thoughts are only focused on getting brutally fatigued bodies and boats across the final finish line. Winds are forecast to build progressively to over 25 knots, adding a certain urgency to the conclusion of this landmark edition of the definitive solo offshore multi-stage race.

    In second place this morning, Yann Eliès talked as the group was converging back together: “My idea was to win in the north, to try to get up to find the northwest wind we had lost when we went down to the mark at Saint Marcouf, but actually the wind died. We were carried on the current to the North West, so that was not terrible. And on the ranking of this morning (reported by radio), we are not so far from the leaders even if we do not know where they are, I can not get them to the AIS, I guess they are down there somewhere so we may have a chance to be in front of them. Now it it depends on how fast the wind will turn to the northeast. We are already in the North East, so it’s better to be offshore, here, I think. For the moment, there is no storm yet. We have 10 knots but at the end of each Meteo Consult forecast we have 20/30 knots announced. We’ll see it to believe it!”
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