Solitaire leg two underway

Singlehanders leave Bilbao bound for La Rochelle

Tuesday August 5th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
After one general recalled the second leg of the Solitaire du Figaro set off under Z flag - with the threat of a 20% addition to their time for this leg for any false starters. The second start was clean at 1413BST with Jérémie Beyou on Delta Dore seeming to make the best start.

The temperature in Gexto/Bilbao was soaring above 30degC in a slightly wallowing sea, with a 5-6 knot northerly wind.

Armel le Cléach' on board Créaline rounded the weather mark first at around 1435 BST. Clearly out for revenge after his dismal performance on the last leg, Loick Peyron on Fujifilm was holding second with Erwan Tabarly on Thalès completing the lead trio, with Alain Gautier seventh.

With light conditions forecast, the leg to La Rochelle of originally 494 miles has been shortened. Instead of having to round a turning mark of Gijon in northern Spain, the boats are now heading north across the Bay of Biscay to Belle Ile before heading south again back down the French coast to the finish line.

"We have decided upon this particular course reduction with a view to maintaining the sporting value of this second leg," explained Race Director Denis Horeau. "There will still be a fine crossing of the Bay of Biscay, followed by a coastal course, but to take the racers along the coast of Euskadi and Asturias as far as the mark on the off Gijon in the calm forecast is quite frankly of no interest at all in racing terms." The leg is now 115 mile shorter as a result.

The course change was welcomed by the crews: "The Gijon mark was a guaranteed national lottery. It was very dangerous. All the counters could easily have swung back to zero after 115 miles of racing which may have been good for the those behind but hard on the frontrunners," commented Gildas Morvan skipper of Circle Verte.

By 1700 BST the visibility was poor and the northerly wind had dropped to between 3.9 and 4.2 knots on the race at the Radio France Buoy, 8.5 miles from the start line.

"It's going to be a light upwind leg up to Belle Ille and things could be a bit odd because there are a few tiny depressions over France and Spain - they are small, fickle and difficult to predict," commented Sam Davies prior to her departure this afternoon. "The wind will be light, fore sure - not more than 10 knots.

" Skandia is ready - she was checked thoroughly when we got here to see there was no damage under the the boat because we hit something on the first night of Leg 1 out of Les Sables d'Olonne but luckily it bounced off and didn't do any damage."

At present no positions are available

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