Figaro race leaves Crosshaven

Race favaourte takes the lead

Sunday August 11th 2002, Author: Laure Fay, Location: France
The second leg of the Solitaire du Figaro set sail from Crosshaven today. Stiff conditions with west northwesterly winds of up to 35 knots were expected for the 38 competitors as they crossed the Irish Sea en route south to the next stop in Les Sables d'Olonne.

Early this morning on the pontoons of Crosshaven, everyone was making their final preparations, battening down hatches and preparing for some lively sailing. "I'll set up camp outside because we'll have to spend long hours attached to the helm under spinnaker tonight," explained Romain Attanasio on Port de Trébeurden. Keeping the kite up in the hard conditions while sailing singlehanded is tough, almost as tough as keeping the boat going when it is very light. Everyone expects the descent of the Irish Sea to be hard. "The night will be long and windy. That will be very tiring at the start. I have been resting as much as possible," confided Jean-François Bulot on Crédit Mutuel, who had just woken from a little siesta as it came time to go.

This morning the Irish sky was particularly colourful, alternating between showers and clear spells. The start gun was fired at 1123, but in their eagerness to get away several boats crossed the line early. There was a general recall and the second start was carried out under a black flag and saw the boats get away smoothly.

1151 : after making a good start, leaving the bay of Cork on starboard tack the sun made a brief appearance in the 20 knot northwesterly wind. Pre-race favourite and 2001 winner Eric Drouglazet led from the line, followed by Philippe Vicariot on Thales, Kito de Pavant's Malice and Benoît Petit on Top' Océan. Drouglazet was sailing under full canvas ready to show his ability and experience sailing his 30ft Beneteau at full time singlehanded under spinnaker in strong breeze.

"We'll see in four days," says Drouglazet of the outcome of this leg. "Just because I had a great leg last year in 35 knots of wind doesn't mean that I'm above all the others. I certainly love these conditions but it's going to be raging a bit the first night since they forecast more wind than planned with strong gusts of 35-40 knots. It's going to play on the strength of the arms, but plenty of things could happen and I always dread damage."

At t he first mark, 10 miles from the start Drouglazet was still leading. He rounded the mark at 1316 hours. 11 minutes. 2 seconds later came Philippe Vicariot and 3 seconds after, Créaline skippered by Sébastien Josse with Charles Caudrelier Bénac on Bostik Findley, and Kito de Pavant in 4th and 5th respectively. The first newcomer Alain Ferec on Hôtel Vauban Camaret sur Mer rounded in 15th place, 8 minutes behind the leader.

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