Koch into the lead

As Solitaire du Figaro's first leg nears its conclusion

Wednesday August 7th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
This evening the Solitaire du Figaro sailors had passed Land's End and the Scilly Isles and were heading out across the Irish Sea in about 15 knots of northwesterly breeze. At 1900 the 23 year old nipper of the race Antoine Koch held a slender lead over second placed Figaro veteran Gildas Morvan and had just under 60 miles left to go to get to Crosshaven. The front runners are expected to finish in the early hours of the morning.

Whether it is significant or not remains to be seen but Koch and third placed Christophe de Pavant are to the west of the rest of the boats. With less than 5 miles separating the top 12 boats it is fair to say the finish order is far from clear and already in the last 24 hours the lead has passed in turn from de Pavant to Eric Drouglazet to Charles Caudrelier before Koch took over.

While the strategy of the last remaining hours of the race alongside how hard each of the singlehanded skippers can push will be significant, an equally great issue will be fatigue. The 38 boats left northern France on Sunday lunch time and their skippers will have had next to no sleep for the last four days having had to deal with the light weather of the early stage of this leg and then having to negotiate the complex tidal gates sailing along the south coast of the UK. In theory skippers are supposed to catnap for periods of around 15 minutes at a time, but how many actually do this is debatable. It is at this stage of tiredness that skippers can start experiencing hallucinations and other experiences that the rest of us usually only experience in nightclubs having forked out hard earned cash.

In the Figaro class a lot is made of the 'bizuths' - the rookies or first timers. This is significant as the top 'bizuth' has in past years stood to win sponsorship and a boat for the year. Irishman and Tyco crewman Damian Foxall won this prize during the late 90s. At present in the Solitaire du Figaro this looks like being a toss up between Arnaud Boissières and Gwenaël Riou lying 22nd and 23rd respectively.

Positions at 1900
Pos
Skipper
Boat
DTF
CMG
SMG
1
Saunier Duval
59.70nm
286
5.6
2
Cercle Vert
- 1.40nm
280
6.1
3
Malice
- 1.80nm
289
5.5
3
Thales
- 1.80nm
285
5.7
5
Bostik Filey
- 1.90nm
284
5.9
6
Créaline
- 2.20nm
287
5.5
7
Delta Dore
- 3.00nm
284
5.8
8
Sport Sans Frontières
- 3.70nm
282
6
9
Top'Océan
- 3.80nm
291
5.1
10
Thales - Armor Lux
- 4.00nm
283
5.9
11
David Olivier
- 4.20nm
281
6.1
12
32 01 de Météo Consult
- 4.50nm
284
5.8
13
Saint-Nazaire / Escal'Atlantic
- 4.80nm
282
5.7
14
PRB Produits de Revêtement du Bâtiment
- 5.30nm
284
5.9
15
Groupe Générali Assurances
- 5.80nm
286
5.6
16
Languedoc Mutualité Hippocratus.com
- 6.10nm
282
5.8
17
Galinette
- 7.50nm
282
5.9
18
Port Trebeurden
- 7.90nm
6
5.8
19
Cherbourg - Crédit Mutuel
- 11.50nm
285
5.6
20
M@rseille Entreprises
- 12.10nm
286
5.5
21
Petit Navire Le Bon Goût du Large
- 12.30nm
297
4.9
22
Delta Dore & Partenaires
- 17.60nm
276
5.6
23
Espoir Crédit Agricole
- 18.10nm
317
4.3
24
Passion
- 20.50nm
284
5.2
25
Ajaccio Corse du sud
- 23.50nm
281
4.2
26
Département de l'Aisne
- 25.30nm
298
4.8
27
Générale d'Emballage - FIGA
- 35.00nm
284
5.4
28
Bati 85 Qualeader
- 36.90nm
284
5.4
29
Hotel Vauban - Camaret sur Mer
- 41.80nm
275
5.5
30
Société Générale - CAB - Boulogne/mer
- 43.20nm
10
6
31
Dragonfly
- 44.40nm
303
4.3
32
Crédit Mutuel
- 53.10nm
290
4.7
33
Dubus SA. la Bourse Universelle
- 53.60nm
304
4.1
34
Groupe Partouche
- 54.70nm
299
4.2
34
Le Journal du Pays Basque
- 54.70nm
278
4.4
36
Sailfast.Biz Gestion Projet Voile
- 61.70nm
277
4.9
37
Le Souffle de la mer
- 66.00nm
272
5.2
NC
Créaline
NC
280
5.8

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