Caudrelier wins leg 3
In the early hours of this morning it was 28 year old Port la Foret sailor Charles Caudrelier-Benac (above) who sailed into Gijon, winner of the Solitaire du Figaro's third and penultimate leg aboard his yacht Bostik Findley.
Caudrelier-Benac moved into first place 24 hours from the finish and despite the wind going soft held on to the lead despite challenges from Erwan Tabarly on Thales-Armor Lux, Vincent Riou on PRB and Kito de Pavant on Malice. De Pavant finished fourth overall which was good enough for him to maintain his overall lead in this year's singlehanded offshore racing world championship. Caudrelier-Benac moves up to second place just 13 minutes behind in accumulated elapsed time overall results.
Bostik Findley arrived on 03:34 and 35 seconds local time in the port in the northern Spain. Her skipper commented: "I was really frightened at the end on the approach to the line. When I saw that the wind was dropping off, I thought things were going to turn pretty hellish and that Thales would catch the wind. I imagined the worst, especially as the whole group would be becalmed once more. It was really stressful before crossing the line, even though Gijon was visibly a success for me, brought me good luck. This victory is very important to me, I wanted it: to win a leg was one of the objectives I was fixed on. I really think I'm capable of taking victory soon in the Solitaire du Figaro as well as a leg victory. It's the best way in which to learn to win. We have had a very interesting round and after a great deal of stress, there is a lot of happiness."
A officer in the French merchant navy Caudrelier-Benac learned to sail on his family's cruising boat. In 1993 and 1994 he won the Tour de France a la Voile and the Obelix Trophy. He took up Figaro sailing (as it seems you must if you live in Port la Foret) in the 1993 sailing alongside Franck Cammas and Gildas Morvan In the 1999 Solitaire du Figaro he was ninth overall and top 'bizuth' (first timer), which he followed with a fifth place last year. He subsequently came fourth in the 2000 two handed Transat AG2R, fthis year finishing eighth in that event. This is his third Solitaire du Figaro.
Eric Tabarly's nephew Erwan finished 7 minutes and 15 seconds behind the leader. He commented: "I'm very pleased with second place. Of course, I would have preferred to win, but I think it was the operation was carried out well in general. The last two miles were very difficult. We had to fight right up until the end. To make the remaining 0.8 miles to cross the line took a good 20 minutes to half an hour."
Vincent Riou who was Michel Desjoyeaux's head shore crew on his Vendee Globe Open 60 and who is now sponsored by PRB, was 15 minutes and 50 seconds from the first place. "Since the start of the race, I have always sailed with a good group without ever following it through to the end. This finish in third position feels like a pay back for all the effort I've put in. It's a leg that started out very, very badly and finished very, very well. Throughout the course, we've given it our all, really worked hard. At Belle Ile, I went into 19th position and if someone had told me that I would finish 3rd, I'd have never believed them. The wind almost went full circle during the descent of the Bay of Biscay, and I took it the right way. I was enormously concentrated on the speed of the boat. I don't think I slept at all."
Fourth placed Kito de Pavant had these words to say: "Ooh, it feels good when it all stops! This whole affair started off being a bit manic when I was playing catch-up in the Sables d'Olonne. But things sorted themselves out and I was able to concentrate again straightaway and applied myself to the speed of the boat. The first night, we scored a fine coup with Vicariot. We wisely stayed in the middle. This round was certainly a very fine operation. The last leg is going to be very interesting, with everyone still in the running. We're seeing that the youngsters push hard and sail very well. The entry in the bay of Gijon really scared me and I had the frustration of staying there the whole night. I'm shattered. The first night, I really applied myself to getting up with the leaders and then, as there were very light winds in this leg, you just don't sleep."
See page two for finish times