Rock dodging off Brittany

Leg three of the Figaro class' Tour de Bretagne reaches Brest

Wednesday May 21st 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
The Figaro fleet started leg 3 at 2100 hrs last night racing upwind against the tide in 25 knots, short tacking along the coast, going as close in as they dare: "You go until you can touch the rocks then you tack," said Davies. "Sometimes even going inside the was just unbelievable. We had breaking waves around us, no bouys or lights and other competitors any which way you looked - you can't make a single mistake not by a few metres or it could all be over..."

Very little distance separated the fleet, Skandia had between 5 to 7 boats behind them, but it was not long before the proper order was established at the front of the 26-boat fleet with Cercle Vert, Bostik Findley and Delta Dore taking the early lead. In the end it was the sailing duo of Armel Le Cleach and Nicolas Troussel on Crealine who took their opportunity in the early hours of the morning to steal the lead and cross the finish line one minute ahead of Cercle Vert.

There was some rock-hopping respite during the night when the tide was with the fleet although the wind had dropped: "We were trying to sail on the wind shifts really concentrating and making use of the shifts where we could whilst still taking the state of the tide and the other boats into consideration - we were doing all right," said Davies.

Davies admits to making their biggest tactical error in the early hours of the morning once they had gone round the NW tip of the French coast: "The wind had dropped to 14 knots and we were against the tide again," explained Davies. "We had to go inshore again and that is where we made our mistake as we didn't go in far enough to get out of the tide - we wanted to sail the shortest distance to the bouy and thought we were laying the mark but those that went the furthest inshore came out best."

This cost Skandia a few places and time was running out on the final reach and spinnaker run to make any gains. "Overall we are not disappointed in the way we sailed," said Davies. "We were still within reach of the fleet and we know the mistakes we made - we had a good race and could not have pushed much ourselves much harder physically or mentally."

Davies knows that ultimately it is only time on the water that will pay: "It is still taking us too long to get the boat up to speed after a mark rounding," said Davies. "On average it is taking us 10 minutes to get the set up right but we are learning constantly. Also, you cannot leave any tactical decision that could have been made on the shore before you left to the last minute because 9 times out of 10 its going to be the wrong one. Preparation is everything - for us, the boat, the navigation and tactically."

Before the start of the 69-mile leg from Brest to Port La Forêt at 0700 tomorrow morning, Davies and Westmacott will be poring over their weather information and deciding tactics well in advance.


Skipper / co-skipper / boat (L1-L2-L3=pts)
26 starters

2nd Gildas MORVAN / Bertrand PACE - CERCLE VERT (11-1-2=14)
3rd Benoit PETIT / Tangi MAHE / DEFI SANTE VOILE (3-6-5=14)
4th Jeremie BEYOU / Gilles CHIORRI - DELTA DORE (4-4-7=15)
5th Erwan TABARLY / Philippe VICARIOT - THALES (1-8-8=17)
8th Thierry CHABAGNY / Corentin DOUGUET - PETIT NAVIRE (7-5-11=23)
9th Ronan GUERIN / Yves PAJOT - CAMUS IMMOBILIER (2-19-4=25)
10th Bruno JOURDAIN / Jean-Marie DAURIUS - D'AUCY (9-12-9=30)
25th Sam DAVIES / Emma WESTMACOTT - SKANDIA (21-25-23=69)

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