Mahé pips Elies to the post
First across the finish line of Leg 3 this morning off Les Sables d'Olonne, after a nerve shredding duel with double La Solitaire winner Yann Eliès, was Gildas Mahé on Interface Concept.
The 39 year old skipper from Quimper sneaked across the line at 09:07:46 local time this morning in an elapsed time on leg 3 of 3 days 18 hours 07 mins and 46 seconds for the 505 miles marathon.
Back to back race winner Eliès finished just 27 seconds later having led for most of the last 200 miles of the course after racing through a stamina sapping fourth night at sea since leaving Roscoff on Sunday.
Mahé had a five years break from La Solitaire before starting this, his fifth participation in La Solitaire. His best overall result to date was in 2007 when he finished fifth. He was 11th on the opening stage from Deauville to Plymouth and fifth on the second Leg into Roscoff. And this morning he secured his first Leg victory in the last ten miles.
It was a painstaking match race to the finish against the dominant force Eliès. Until now the skipper of Groupe Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir has been able to extricate himself from the pack. Eliès stepped through the fleet leaders from the middle of the Bay of Biscay, successively overhauling Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux-Comptoir de la Mer) and Corentin Horeau (Bretagne-Crédit Mutuel Performance) as they gybed for the ODAS buoy. With 0.7nm of margin at the ODAS most observers probably thought Eliès was carving out another Leg win, but when they closed the BXA mark off the Gironde estuary the distance between Eliès and Mahé was just 0.2 miles or 350m.
And the differential ebbed and flowed a little until this morning around 0200 when the breeze disappeared off the Ile de Ré, shifting and changing. From there it was a slow paced match race, flirting with the zephyrs of breeze and trying to eke out extra metres here and there. Their deliverance came around 0800 local this morning when the westerly breeze came in and allowed Mahé to position himself in front of Eliès and so protect the passage to the line.
Mahé now rises to fourth overall on the standings after three legs. Maitre Coq’s Jérémie Beyou, twice overall winner, finished the stage in a tantalising third place only seven minutes behind Eliès and now takes the overall lead on the rankings after three legs, leading by 15 mins and 13secs on Corentin Horeau (Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance) and 18 mins and 57 secs up on Charlie Dalin in third on Normandy Elite Team.
At 0950hrs local time the best of the British skippers was Jackson Boutell (GAC Pindar) in 19th with nine miles to sail to the finish making 7.3kts.
Top ten into Les Sables d’Olonne
1-Gildas Mahé (Interface Concept) 9h07'46
2-Yann Eliès (Groupe Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) 9h08'13
3-Jérémie Beyou (Maître Coq) 9h15'13
4-Corentin Horeau (Bretagne-Crédit Mutuel Performance) 9h16'56
5-Charlie Dalin (Normandy Elite Team) 9h19'38
6-Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux-Comptoir de la Mer) 9h28'30
7-Corentin Douguet (Un maillot pour la vie) 9h40'11
8-Isabelle Joschke (Generali Horizon Mixité) 9h 41' 02
9-Paul Meilhat (SMA) 9h43'03
10-Vincent Biarnes (Guyot Environnement) 9h50'39