Duthil takes leg three

Troussel set to win again as there is a match race to the finish line in the final leg of the Soliaire du Figaro

Monday August 11th 2008, Author: Sabin Mollart-Rogerson, Location: United Kingdom
Frédéric Duthil crossed the finish line at 17:24:30 local time today to win the third and final leg of the 39thSolitaire du Figaro from Cherbourg to Aber Wrac’h. The skipper of Distinxion Automobiles covered the 470 mile course in a time of 71 hours, 23 minutes and 30 seconds at an average speed of 6.6 knots. Just five minutes behind Duthil there was a match race for second place between leg two winner Gildas Morvan ( Cercle Vert) and Laurent Pellecuer ( Dr Valnet-Aromathérapie) which Morvan won by just 21 seconds. Overall leader Nicolas Troussel on Financo, is expected to finish in the next couple of hours to take the overall elapsed time win for this Solitaire, his second in three years.

Experiencing a victory is always an amazing thing and it must even be more so when it is along the beautifully rugged and rock strewn coastline of northern Brittany. The finish line, set inside L'Aber Wrac’h, one of the natural inlets that provide shelter to sailors along the famously dangerous coast, provided a difficult but dramatic backdrop to the finish of this leg.

The pedigree of the first placed sailors on this leg is undeniable: Fred Duthil won two legs last year, into Crosshaven and another into Les Sables d’Olonne, Laurent Pellecuer won the leg into Ireland back in 2005 while Gildas Morvan has had four wins, one just last week into Cherbourg. The three solo sailors fought all the way to the finish line, including a luffing match right up to the finish for second place!

The 470-mile course was like a giant windward leeward race with a two day long upwind beat against in strong winds and currents to the Brittany Buoy weather mark out in the Atlantic followed by a fast downhill spinnaker run to the finish.

“It was the toughest upwind beat of my life,” declared Duthil last night. Upon rounding the mark, the three leaders managed to detach themselves from the pack today and break away on the long and tactical ride east to finish. Duthil, waving from the bow as he crossed the finish line declared that it was just “never-ending, so it is fantastic to win the leg. I really had to focus hard on this leg and I realised I could win it 10 miles from the finish and just digged deeper and deeper to get here. What is funny is that Nico ( Financo) won the first leg and gets the 1st in the overall ranking, Gildas ( Cercle Vert) won the second leg and gets second overall and I win the third leg and take third place overall.”

The time differences for the first three come down to very little, with Gildas Morvan crossing 20 seconds ahead of Laurent Pellecuer and just over 7 minutes behind the winner on this final leg. Erwan Tabarly ( Athema) took 4th after a great race that has seen him in up with the leaders right from the start, but he lost third place on the overall leaderboard to Duthil.

Frédéric Duthil on his race win commented: “I am really, really happy! I really had to push for this one, I pushed and pushed and pushed…never giving up. I just had to follow each little wind shift: I can tell you that this leg was much harder than it looked. The upwind beat was incredibly long and hard, I think the hardest in my life. Psychologically, you had to stay on top of things…”

Duthil say he only realised he was going to win about 10 miles before the finish line. "Only when we lowered the spinnaker, just then. It was so close and so tough, on the whole leg. I could see Gildas Morvan and Laurent Pellecuer just behind me and they were chasing me down, but I kept between them both, to cover them, so unless something broke, I was able cover mark them and keep ahead. I just kept going to the finish.”

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