Figaro gun goes tomorrow

Solitaire du Figaro singlehanders depart on leg one from Boulogne-sur-Mer

Saturday August 3rd 2002, Author: Laure Fay, Location: France
The 33rd edition of the Solitaire du Figaro kicks off tomorrow at midday from Boulogne-sur-Mer for the 38 singlehanders aboard their 30ft Beneteau Figaros. Lying in store for the competors are 1691 miles of coastal and ocean racing.

The start will prove to be quite technical with strong tides and light winds forecast. The first leg takes the fleet from Boulogne-sur-Mer to Crosshaven, Ireland. The boats must sail across the shipping lanes to the south coast of England and then head west before they round Land's End and head across the Irish Sea. With the forecast anything could happen. "It will begin closehauled in light winds and we know that this is a very technical point of sail which will quickly sort out the mice from the men. Each one of them will chose his side and we will soon see in the sea off England who made the right move," predicts Christian Gout, head of the shore team.

Professional forecaster and competitor Gilles Chiorri (32 01 of Météo Consult), has been examining the charts and models for some days. He says it is going to make for an interesting race. "We can expect some quite noteworthy charts very soon. After the passage from the mark of the course off Dungeness (to be left to port) the difficulty will come from the fact that the currents get stronger." It remains to be seen, if once the fleet is off Cornwall, whether the breeze decides to build. For the first night, it seems that nothing can really be counted on and that with the current on the nose the first miles will be pretty awkward.

Sailing along the south coast the tide and conditions will dictate whether it is better to take to the sea or keep closer to the coast? Should risks be taken or is it better to stay safe? These questions are beating around in the heads of the competitors the day before hitting the start.

We will have to wait and see tomorrow.

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