Le Cleac'h shows how it's done

After two inshore races for singlehanded Figaro Beneteau fleet in Marseille debut of Generali Méditerranée

Sunday June 15th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
Big sun and a good sea breeze made for ideal conditions for the first day of racing in the first ever singlehanded race for the new generation Figaro Beneteau 2s. The Generali Méditerranée's first races were round the cans held off Marseilles in 10-15 knot winds.

Of the 32 singlehanded sailors taking part, Armel Le Cléac'h dominated the first day of racing, along with the young blades Gwénaël Riou on Espoir Crédit Agricole and Yann Eliès on Groupe Generali Assurances. Those who did best chose the left side of the course. Le Cléac'h was first to the top mark and performed the best hoist along with Eliès. They were narrowly ahead of Jérémie Beyou on Delta Dore and Gildas Morvan on Cercle Vert.
There was a surprisingly good result for Figaro newbie Christopher Pratt on Café Malongo, who finished sixth.

The second race of the day saw a general recall. Eliès was first to the windward mark ahead of former Solitaire du Figaro winner Eric Drouglazet on David Olivier and Armel Le Cléac'h. Le Cléac'h played the breeze better and overtook the two Figaro veterans to take his second race of the day. Subject to protests he now leads the rankings ahead of Gildas Morvan and Jérémie Beyou

Sole Brit Sam Davies finished 20th and 27th in her first solo races ever in the class. "It was hard, hard work," said Davies. "I feel I'm in the ball park but just have to avoid making the big mistakes."

Skandia started with the back pack in race one, fighting dirty air on the first upwind leg but managed to make up a few places on the downwind leg capitalising on other competitors errors: "Any mistake, like a bad hoist or sailing to high can give you an advantage," said Davies. "At the bottom mark, I gybed nice and early to get on the inside of the fleet ahead and took down the spinnaker earlier as well, so I was ready and well prepared to tack off at the mark."

In the second race the wind had increased to 18 knots but two mistakes proved costly for Davies: "Because I had a bad start and was further back than in the first race, I tried something different," said Davies. "I tacked away to the right of the course when it was obvious the left was paying, but I wanted to try and get some clear air and space."

This proved to be the wrong decision costing Skandia crucial places. Another error on the final downlind leg put any hope of bettering her 20th place in first race out of the window: "I wasn't hearing the race committee on the VHF that clearly and thought they were going to finish us on the next upwind leg," said Davies. "So I went down below to flick the switch for the ballast tanks but managed to hit the wrong switch disabling the auto-pilot! I went out of control for a while but managed not to crash gybe - the main problem was I had to reset the autopilot but we were full-on downwind in 18 knots so it wasn't easy to leave the tiller and get down below!"

Tomorrow, the fleet will leave Marseilles at 1100 on their first long coastal race, bound for Port Camargue 115 nautical miles away. Current forecast is for 15 knots from a westerly direction. "The wind can sometimes fade away overnight in the Med," said Sam Davies. "But there will be no time to sleep at all - even just heating up some water to prepare a freeze-dried meal is questionable - I will probably survive on energy bars."

Results
Pos Boat Skipper Tot
1 CREALINE Armel LE CLEACH 10 2
2 CERCLE VERT Gildas MORVAN 9 6
3 DELTA DORE Jeremie BEYOU 1 7
4 DAVID OLIVIER Eric DROUGLAZET 2 8
5 GROUPE GENERALI ASSURANCES Yann ELIES 5 12
6 THALES Erwan TABARLY 7 16
7 E. LECLERC  Protégeons l'environnement Sébastien AUDIGANE 96 18
8 AON Laurent PELLECUER 31 19
9 CREPES WHAOU ! Franck-Yves ESCOFFIER** 33 20
9 Café MALONGO Christopher PRATT** 95 20
11 ESPOIR CREDIT AGRICOLE Gwenaël RIOU 25 21
12 3201 METEOCONSULT Groupe Prosodie Gilles CHIORRI 8 23
13 VILLE DE CHERBOURG / MORY TEAM Alexandre TOULORGE 11 25
14 BOSTIK FINDLEY Charles CAUDRELIER BENAC 6 29
15 BERMUDES Marc THIERCELIN 34 30
16 SORELEC MBD Design Arnaud BOISSIERES 28 32
17 PETITS-PETONS / FTH THIRARD Christophe ARTAUD** 36 34
18 Rêve de grand - ACTUAL Interim Yves LE BLEVEC** 94 35
19 Petit Navire Le Bon Goût du Large Thierry CHABAGNY 92 36
20 PORT TREBEURDEN Romain ATTANASIO 97 37
21 ART IMMOBILIER CONSTRUCTION Daniel DUPONT 29 39
22 Skipper ag2r Jeanne GREGOIRE 93 42
23 SKANDIA Samantha DAVIES** 27 47
24 IN EXTREMIS Marc EMIG** 30 48
25 SOR  TMC Christophe BOUVET** 17 49
26 M@RSEILLE ENTREPRISES Jean Paul MOUREN 13 55
26 ALTAVENTURE / SNSM Eric PILAT** 24 55
26 STERN groep Sander BAKKER** 23 55
29 MONACO MARINE GROUP Alberto SPINA 42 58
29 PLUS PHARMACIE Stéphane SEVAUX** 35 58
31 SECTOR SPORT WATCHES Corrado AGUSTA** 38 60
32 LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR Lionel PEAN 51 66

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