March and it starts again!




At 13:34 this Thursday, after a first general reminder, the start of the big race of the 18th edition of the Solo Maître CoQ was given in the bay of Sables d'Olonne by Manu Cousin, recent finisher of the Vendée Globe. The 29 competing sailors then set off, propelled by a flow from the west-southwest sector blowing between 4 and 5 knots. In these soft conditions, Achille Nebout (Primeo Energie - Amarris) was the first to stand out, thus winding the clearing ring in front of Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019) and Fabien Delahaye (Laboratoires Gilbert - Loubsol). The fact remains that at this stage of the race, with 340 miles ahead of the bows and more than uncertain weather conditions until the outskirts of the Ile de Ré, the dice were far from being cast.













After competing in two coastal courses on Monday and Tuesday, then taking advantage of an “off” day yesterday, the 29 sailors of the Solo Maître CoQ took the start of the big race this Thursday afternoon. On the menu for all of them: a 340-mile loop starting and finishing in Les Sables d'Olonne via Ré, Belle-Ile and Yeu, as complete as it is complex, with very little erratic airs off the coast Aunisian, invigorating conditions on the Birvideaux side and then light winds again over the last miles. "Given the announced weather scenario, we know that the start of the race will be crucial. The first to overflow the Ile de Ré will first touch the new wind, which is much more stable. They will then certainly take an advantage for the rest because when we look at the routings, we see that on the rest of the course, there are a lot of direct edges overall. This means that the game will not be strategically open wide. We will quickly find ourselves playing little wooden horses. On the other hand, the choice of sails and the management of the boat will be important, especially in strong winds, ” commented Fabien Delahaye.


Don't miss the train to Ré


He is one of those who have alternated between the good and the less good over the first two rounds, and who are counting on this new exercise, similar to a stage of Solitaire de Figaro, to express himself and grab a few places in the general classification. . And for good reason, this round with a coefficient of 3, could well redistribute the cards in the general classification currently led by the Briton Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) ahead of Tom Laperche (Brittany - CMB Performance) and Gildas Mahé (Breizh Cola). "Everything will actually depend on how the ridge will evolve at the Ile de Ré. If the wind continues, it will be less complicated than expected. If it collapses, it will obviously become very random. Once this delicate passage is behind them, the competitors will then have to manage the passage of a front on the Belle-Ile side. Consequently, in addition to the arrival of the rain, the sea will form and the wind will return up to 20-25 knots with potentially gusts to 35. It will not be so peaceful! », Relates Christian Dumard, weather analyst for Solo Maître CoQ.







The choice of sails and the management of the boat in the foreground


“On Saturday, the wind is expected to ease again. To date, according to the timings, and in particular if the first section drags in length, the ETA (estimates of arrival time, editor's note) diverge sharply. Some models thus allow the first arrivals on Saturday between 3 and 5 am to be considered, while others do not see them before the evening of the same day, ” notes the consultant. One thing is therefore certain: uncertainty remains. "We all hope not to fall too far behind on the first part of the course because after that it will go ahead as soon as the new wind arrives. In addition to that, the more a boat will be behind, the more the scales will be bad for it and as if that were not enough, on the last section, the more it will lag, the less wind it will have! », Commented Vincent Riou (Capmar IV) who signs his return to competition after two years without, and therefore confirms that once Ré is in the wake, the established hierarchy will be complicated to shake up. But specialists know it well however, in ocean racing, nothing is ever written. The bets are therefore open.







They said :


Charlotte Yven (Vendée Formation Team) :“On this big stage, we'll have a bit of everything: calm at the start, breeze in the middle and certainly less air to finish. The wind will yo-yo but it's nice. For me, it will be a big discovery to find myself offshore racing since it will necessarily be different from training or escorting. In competitive mode, the time will certainly pass faster, but it will also be more conducive to doing silly things. This is where I will have to manage myself a bit. I know if I rush too much it can get tricky afterwards. In any case, I hope that the first few miles will not be too soft anyway so that we don't find ourselves tearing our hair out under the Ile de Ré bridge with the current. The advantage is that it will gradually put us in good condition. My goals ? Finish the race, do not break anything, make a nice track and fight with the others! "


Marc Mallaret (Seeking Sponsor) :“I'm a little frustrated with my first two short races. On Monday's race, I got off to a great start but then I just lost on small technical errors. Conversely, on Tuesday's, I had a very bad start but I only went back up, which proves that I am capable, even if I have a little technical lack, due to lack of training. I haven't sailed since Solitaire last year, almost. I got the boat back a short time ago and only made five small trips on board before this Solo Maître COQ. The positive point for the future is that I have a lot of room for improvement. Regarding the big race, the weather is not very complicated in terms of strategy. The important thing will be above all the choice of trajectories and sails. It will nevertheless be a little muscular during the passage of the front, Friday. Consequently, there will be some breeze management to do on the Belle-Ile side. It won't be the holidays but it will be perfect for gauging myself and knowing what work I will have to do in the spring while the others will be on the double-handed Transat. As for the result, I don't put any pressure on myself but of course I will try to do well, if possible. " if possible. " if possible. "


Violette Dorange (Devenir) : “The two days of the coastal course went moderately well for me. There were both beautiful things and things a little less good. I mostly missed my racing debut. I got off to a bad start. Suddenly, it put behind immediately and I could not match as I wanted. There, the objective on the long course is really to get a good start, especially since it looks very “crappy”, as they say. My goals: to have a good course and good maneuvers then to follow the strategic plan that I have set for myself. If all goes well, normally I would have achieved my goal. "

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