Upwind across Biscay

Latest developments on the final leg of the Solitaire du Figaro

Tuesday August 27th 2002, Author: Laure Fay, Location: France


Vincent Riou's PRB

The final leg of the singlehanded Solitaire du Figaro kicked off on Sunday with an arduous 465 mile long passage across the Bay of Biscay from Gijon in northern Spain to Cherbourg-Octeville in northern France. A day and a half into this leg the wind is still on the nose adding to the tactical tension on board the 30ft Beneteaus.

"The sea is up : hard, choppy and short," reported Race Director Denis Horeau from the committee boat following the fleet. "The waves are small and you have to climb them one at a time. The little Figaro Bénéteau is still able to leapfrog over them." Overhead the sky is squally, sometimes pierced by rays of sunlight and an oscillating, unstable wind.

"In these conditions, the skippers play the oscillations in the wind and follow the best tack. A spell on starboard tack, a few minutes on port tack and then starboard once again" describes Christian Gout, Assistant Race Director.

To get from Gijon to the turning mark at Ouessant on the northwestern corner of France involved sailing straight across the Bay of Biscay. So far the skippers are progressing in a group, about 30 miles below the direct course.

This morning last year's winner Eric Drouglazet has taken over the lead from Nicolas Troussel but there is almost no separation between the leaders and this will certainly change. Troussel is being chased on the right hand side of the main group by the consistent Philippe Vicariot, while Drouglazet, Jérémie Beyou, Vincent Riou and Sébastien Josse are further the north west. There is another break away group to the south east, but includes none of the top players.

"We're not sailing that far from the others but we can't see each other at all with the breaking seas. You can't let the helm go, the autopilot isn't very good in these conditions - I'm sticking to my course without worrying too much about what the others are doing, I am the wind," confides Beyou.

Currently the boats are trying to head north northeast on starboard tack and are expecting a shift to the left accompanied by building wind speed up to 20-25 knots. The fleet is still tightly bunched with less than five miles separating the first twenty. "24 hours of upwind sailing and not half the route covered yet. It's painful - you have to trim the sails constantly, but when you're fighting for the first places, you hang on in there," said Nicolas Troussel yesterday.

"We have a sea which could damage the boat but we're better off as monohulls than multihulls!" confirms Eric Drouglazet. "You take the full brunt in the spinal column when the boat drops of the waves. It's not that great for the guys! The route is still long but after Ushant, we won't have to tack any more. It'll be a good time to start the chronometer. Then we'll see the big picture in the general rankings." Positioned at 170 miles from Ouessant, the first singlehanders are expected there at the end of tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday). There we shall find the champion of the upwind event.

On Malice, Kito de Pavant unfortunately encountered a crate: "Everything was going well and I was maintaining a good speed. I passed Gildas Morvan with Jérémie Beyou. Then unfortunately I hit a crate with the keel and I didn't see it straight away. I dragged it along for four hours. I had to go into reverse to get it free several times. I lost 2 miles on the leading boats and I'm very disappointed to have dropped so many places like that!"

On Cherbourg-Crédit Mutuel Alexandre Toulorge reported: "I had a good night and tacked well. But I really like sailing upwind. Home is not far away and that's motivating me to get back, even if I'm having a bit of difficulty in moving the boat forward and getting the speed I want out of her. Ushant and the Raz Blanchard are the two passages required before Cherbourg-Octeville. It's a very welcoming town and I hope there'll be a big crowd at the finish."

Positions at 0800 GMT.
Pos Skipper Boat DTL/F Course Speed
1
DROUGLAZET Eric David Olivier 243.30nm 49 6.2
2
BEYOU Jérémie Delta Dore + 1.30nm 48 6.8
2
RIOU Vincent PRB Produits de Revêtement du Bâtiment + 1.30nm 43 6.7
4
JOSSE Sébastien Créaline + 2.70nm 49 6.8
5
ELIES Yann Groupe Générali Assurances + 3.10nm 48 6.4
6
VICARIOT Philippe Thales + 3.30nm 14 3.9
7
LE CLEAC'H Armel Créaline + 3.60nm 48 6.7
8
CAUDRELIER Charles Bostik Filey + 3.80nm 45 6.5
8
PETIT Benoit Top'Océan + 3.80nm 46 6.7
10
DE PAVANT Christophe Malice + 3.90nm 46 6.9
11
ATTANASIO Romain Port Trebeurden + 4.40nm 44 6.4
11
TOULORGE Alexare Cherbourg - Crédit Mutuel + 4.40nm 43 6
13
TABARLY Erwan Thales - Armor Lux + 5.00nm 45 6.6
14
TROUSSEL Nicolas Galinette + 5.20nm 306 6.2
15
MARSSET Bertra Passion + 5.60nm 46 6.5
16
GUERIN Ronan Saint-Nazaire / Escal'Atlantic + 5.80nm 41 6.9
17
KOCH Antoine Saunier Duval + 6.10nm 44 6.5
18
MOUREN Jean-Paul M@rseille Entreprises + 7.70nm 47 6.8
19
PELLECUER Laurent Languedoc Mutualité Hippocratus.com + 7.90nm 47 6.5
20
AUDIGANE Sébastien Sport Sans Frontières + 10.40nm 45 6.5
21
BOISSIERES Arnaud Delta Dore & Partenaires + 12.30nm 42 6
22
NABART Laurent Ajaccio Corse du sud + 12.70nm 44 6.3
23
GREGOIRE Jeanne Département de l'Aisne + 12.90nm 43 6.1
24
RIOU Gwénaël Espoir Crédit Agricole + 13.30nm 41 6
25
COATNOAN Christophe Groupe Partouche + 16.20nm 39 5.9
26
PEYRET Jean-Marie Dubus SA. la Bourse Universelle + 18.70nm 48 5.8
27
TINCELIN Dominique Dragonfly + 18.90nm 37 5.3
28
BALOGH François Générale d'Emballage - FIGA + 20.10nm 42 6.1
29
GREGOIRE Yann Sailfast.Biz Gestion Projet Voile + 21.70nm 34 5.1
30
FEREC Alain Hotel Vauban - Camaret sur Mer + 24.60nm 43 5.6
31
GRAVELEAU Vincent Bati 85 Qualeader + 27.50nm 306 6.1
32
BULOT Jean-François Crédit Mutuel + 27.70nm 45 4.6
33
ROBEIN Louis Le Souffle de la mer + 60.70nm 38 5.4
34
ALFARO Amaiur Le Journal du Pays Basque + 253.90nm 0 0
NC
MORVAN Gildas Cercle Vert
NC
CHIORRI Gilles 32 01 de Météo Consult NC 39 6.3
NC
CHABAGNY Thierry Petit Navire Le Bon Goût du Large NC 333 4.9
NC
MARTINAGE Yvan Société Générale - CAB - Boulogne/mer

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