Jubilant - Armel le Cleac'h

Jubilant - Armel le Cleac'h

Gautier pipped at the post

As Whitbread veteran takes overall line honours in fourth and final leg of the closest ever Solitaire du Figaro

Friday August 22nd 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
At 02h52'17'' (French time), today, Lionel Péan on board Nouvel Observateur crossed the finishing line first in the fourth and final leg of the Solitaire du Figaro from Dingle to Saint-Nazaire.

The former Whitbread winner's time for the leg is 85h 52m 17s and he sloped across the line with a lead of just 200m over second placed Erwan Tabarly on Thalès.

Aged 46, this was Péan 8th Solitaire du Figaro, a race he first won 20 years ago in 1983. "I was always in the leading group and it wasn’t easy! I wanted to show that I was still capable of pulling this off. I am a happy man! This really is a fantastic moment," he commented on his arrival.

As Péan crossed the line there were still nerve-wracking minutes waiting for the overall leader to be decided. Yesterday evening Armel Le Cléac’h, on board Créaline, second placed in the overall elapsed time results into Dingle was a mile ahead of the elapsed time leader, trimaran skipper Alain Gautier. In the elapsed time results Le Cléac’h would have to beat Gautier across the line by 19 minutes in order to win the event outright. With the 26 year old French crossing the line at 03h 20m 22s last night in 14th position, the gathered press and spectators waited with baited breath to find out who was the victor. In the end Gautier crossed the line 17th, 19 minutes and a crucial 13 seconds after Le Cléac'h.

Never before in the 34 year history of La Solitaire du Figaro has there been such a close finish - 13 seconds after four legs and 1820 miles/327h 08m 17s of racing around the Bay of Biscay, the Channel and the Celtic Sea. Third place was taken by Michel Desjoyeaux.

"I didn’t take the exact times with me so as not to put on the pressure," said Le Cléach later. "I found out from Michel Desjoyeaux by VHF that I had in fact won by 13 seconds. That’s really nothing 13 seconds! Just a tack at the end, after 4 legs is really minute. Alain deserved this victory as much as me as we both gave it everything. We were up there in the action for four legs and finish 13 seconds apart. That’s nothing and I share this victory with him. It’s a huge achievement and I’m really extremely happy. The Solitaire is a difficult race and you have to have a bit of success to win it and I had it right up to the end. I sailed well on every leg. I messed up a bit on my passage across the bay of Audierne but I’m elated. It’s a dream come true."

A disappointed Alain Gautier commented: "I tried to go as fast as possible so that the gap was as small as possible but all of a sudden, at the end, I didn’t sail well and I was beaten! It’s a real shame to do a last leg like that as I was in the game the whole time. On the last day I made a slight error with the regrouping round the Ile de Sein and it’s true that I didn’t believe in the inshore option which cost me dearly. I wanted to sail like I have been throughout the race, thinking about how I could pull off a result, but I didn’t take Créaline into consideration. I sailed badly at the end as I was sure I’d lost. I thought Armel was further away than that but still, that’s how it goes. Perhaps it’s down to fatigue, I haven’t slept enough but it was difficult with the fickle winds."

Among the Figaro first timers the overall prize went to the experienced Marc Emig on Espoir Total, but the leg was won convincingly by Skandia skipper Sam Davies (who we will be speaking to when she wakes up...) Davies at one point yesterday evening was in fourth place, but had dropped to 7th by the time she crossed the finish line.

"A perfect way to finish the race to have a really good result on the last leg and winning the Bizuth [Rookie] on the last leg, as well - it is what I wanted to do on at least one of the legs," commented Davies as she hit the dock earlier this morning.

"It has been a really close battle with Marc and Yves and this time, perhaps, I got the luck a bit more getting the advantage with the wind shifts. I did not know where they were all the time and, as usual, I was just racing for the best position overall on this leg. But I also knew in the final stages that I had a good advantage on Yves and could get second Rookie overall. But for me, it is fantastic to finish ahead of both of them in this last leg and some of the other top guys as well. I am really happy for Marc - he deserved to be top Rookie as he has sailed brilliantly.

"I am knackered - I was tired before I even started this leg and all the other three legs caught up on me... But that comes with experience, you learn for next year that you have to pace yourself to last for the four legs instead of the three which is what I did.

"I was lucky in this leg that there were times when I could sleep and it didn't make me any slower so I was lucky that I got away with being tired because if it had been a really windy leg or something, I could have had a problem.

"Between now and next year there is lots of time for training to prepare for the next season and to improve my performance even more and I really can't wait to compete again in this circuit - but maybe a bit of a rest first!"

Finish times:

Pos Skipper Boat Arrved at
1 PEAN Lionel Nouvel Observateur 00:52:17GMT
2 TABARLY Erwan Thalès + 1'28''
3 ATTANASIO Romain Port Trebeurden + 3'48''
4 DROUGLAZET Eric David Olivier + 7'53''
5 CAUDRELIER Charles Bostik Findley + 8'13''
6 MORVAN Gildas Cercle Vert + 9'16''
7 DAVIES Samantha Skandia + 9'59''
8 ESCOFFIER F.Y. Crêpes Whaou ! + 11'08''
9 EMIG Marc Espoir Total Course au Large + 18'33''
10 DUPONT Daniel Art Immobilier Construction + 18'52''
11 THIERCELIN Marc Bermudes + 20'58''
12 PEYRON Loïck Fujifilm + 21'01''
13 BAKKER Sander Egeria + 22'57''
14 LE CLEAC'H Armel Créaline + 28'05''
15 DE PAVANT Christophe Crash Bandicoot + 34'07''
16 DESJOYEAUX Michel Géant + 46'03''
17 GAUTIER Alain Foncia + 47'18''
18 GUERIN Ronan Amandine & Chérie + 58'23''
19 CHIORRI Gilles 32 01 Météo Consult Groupe Prosodie + 1h01'40''
20 PILAT Eric Altaventure-SNSM + 1h02'03''
21 PELLECUER Laurent Cliptol Sport + 1h08'28''
22 RIOU Gwenaël Espoir Crédit Agricole + 1h17'55''
23 ARTAUD Christophe Petits Petons + 1h20'26''
24 TOULORGE Alexandre Ville de Cherbourg - Crédit Mutuel + 1h21'03''
25 LE BLEVEC Yves Rêve de Grand-Actual Intérim + 1h28'05''
26 MOUREN Jean-Paul Marseille Entreprises + 1h37'50''
27 SEVAUX Stéphane Sarthe + 1h40'33''
28 BOISSIERES Arnaud MBD Design - Sorelec + 1h42'55''
29 GRIMONT Damien Soletanche-Bachy + 1h52'41''
30 BOUGARD Patrice Kogane + 2h05'33''
31 BIDEGORRY Pascal Région Aquitaine + 2h12'27''
32 GREGOIRE Jeanne Skipper AG2R + 2h13'18''
33 BEYOU Jérémie Delta Dore + 2h52'13''
34 CHABAGNY Thierry Petit Navire Le Bon Goût du Large + 3h23'20''
35 BOS Christian Raynal et Roquelaure + 3h27'48''
36 ELIES Yann Groupe Générali Assurances + 3h34'13''

Total elapsed times

Pos Skipper Boat Total elapsed time
1 LE CLEAC'H Armel Créaline 327h08'19''
2 GAUTIER Alain Foncia + 13''
3 DESJOYEAUX Michel Géant + 1h26'17''
4 BIDEGORRY Pascal Région Aquitaine + 1h49'39''
5 EMIG Marc Espoir Total Course au Large + 1h56'32''
6 PEYRON Loïck Fujifilm + 2h24'52''
7 THIERCELIN Marc Bermudes + 2h28'58''
8 PELLECUER Laurent Cliptol Sport + 2h29'21''
9 TABARLY Erwan Thalès + 3h27'08''
10 DROUGLAZET Eric David Olivier + 3h37'10''
11 BEYOU Jérémie Delta Dore + 3h41'13''
12 CAUDRELIER Charles Bostik Findley + 3h45'57''
13 ELIES Yann Groupe Générali Assurances + 3h50'01''
14 MORVAN Gildas Cercle Vert + 3h52'53''
15 ATTANASIO Romain Port Trebeurden + 3h54'43''
16 PEAN Lionel Nouvel Observateur + 4h22'42''
17 ESCOFFIER F.Y. Crêpes Whaou ! + 4h31'35''
18 DE PAVANT Christophe Crash Bandicoot + 4h48'39''
19 DAVIES Samantha Skandia + 4h59'01''
20 CHIORRI Gilles 32 01 Météo Consult Groupe Prosodie + 5h05'32''
21 ARTAUD Christophe Petits Petons + 5h51'29''
22 GRIMONT Damien Soletanche-Bachy + 6h21'48''
23 TOULORGE Alexandre Ville de Cherbourg - Crédit Mutuel + 6h23'45''
24 LE BLEVEC Yves Rêve de Grand-Actual Intérim + 6h30'59''
25 GUERIN Ronan Amandine & Chérie + 6h52'45''
26 SEVAUX Stéphane Sarthe + 7h11'23''
27 MOUREN Jean-Paul Marseille Entreprises + 7h23'30''
28 BAKKER Sander Egeria + 7h28'16''
29 RIOU Gwenaël Espoir Crédit Agricole + 7h30'08''
30 CHABAGNY Thierry Petit Navire Le Bon Goût du Large + 7h49'09''
31 BOISSIERES Arnaud MBD Design - Sorelec + 8h08'58''
32 BOUGARD Patrice Kogane + 8h15'30''
33 GREGOIRE Jeanne Skipper AG2R + 8h29'15''
34 DUPONT Daniel Art Immobilier Construction + 10h12'37''
35 PILAT Eric Altaventure-SNSM + 14h36'36''
36 BOS Christian Raynal et Roquelaure + 14h39'35''

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