La Solitaire du Figaro leg two starts today

Light upwind start forecast for Gijon-Brest leg

Tuesday August 3rd 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

Today the 45 solo sailors competing in La Solitaire du Figaro set sail on the 418 mile second leg from Gijón, Northern Spain to Brest at the northwest corner of France at 14:00 CET today.

The prizegiving ceremony for leg one was held at the Casino in Gijon yesterday lunchitme, in the presence of local authorities. This was followed by a weather and safety briefing at 18:00.

Trophies and prizes were awarded to the first sailors to finish in the Spanish port, but also to the best placed 'bizuth' (Solitaire first timer)  - Yoann Richomme on DLBC who finished seventh overall. The skippers who were first at the intermediate marks also each received cash prizes.

Meanwhile the shore teams have been completing their preparations for the return leg across the the Bay of Biscay, while the sailors busy themselves with weather forecasts and examine strategic options.

The course to Brest heads for the SN1 buoy situated 14 miles west of Noirmoutier and approximately 235 miles away is on a straight line. A light established breeze of 3 to 6 knots from the north and big swell coming in from the north is forecast for start time, just outside the harbour of Gijón. Conditions should freshen over the course of the afternoon to 6/9 knots predicts Météo France’s Sylvain Mondon.

“The fleet will encounter an area of low pressure on the first night, which they will need to negotiate and once passed this should get a stronger 10 building to 15 knots of breeze for their reach to the first course mark,” he states.

The fleet will then sail up, tacking their way upwind passed the various islands along the southern Brittany coastline, where the choice is open to sail round east or west of Belle-Ile, while Ile de Groix must be left to port. The sailors will then round Finisterre and Eckhülm lighthouses followed by 20 miles across the Bay of Audierne, before once again negotiating the Raz de Sein. This can be deliverance for some or a nightmare depending on the state of the tide.

The final part of the 2nd leg will consist of a final run north, leaving La Parquette tower to starboard. The fleet will set a course for the Rade de Brest and its narrow entrance, so some surprises could still be in store on the final miles to the finish. “Basically there is a long and quick stretch across the Bay of Biscay followed by some careful coastal racing, with numerous points of passage, rocks, islands and currents to negotiate before the finish in Brest,” summarises Race Director Jacques Caraës. “The race will not be decided until the very end, and I reckon that the back of the fleet will have the chance to get closer to the leaders when the wind comes round from the South West towards the end of the race and the last part is quite tricky, especially if the tide will not be favourable, with strong current and rocks to be avoided.”

Leg one results here

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