Gildas Morvan claims Generali Solo
A welcome feature of the French Figaro circuit returned this year in the Generali Solo. With 12 singlehanded races, including inshore and offshores taking place over the course of three weeks along the south of France, the Generali Solo is like a Mediterranean mini-version of the class' annual Solitaire.
Racing took place over 2-5 June in Marseille followed by an offshore race to Leucate (closer to the Spanish border) via turning marks at the Porquerolles islands (to the east) and and the Iles Medes off the coast of Spain. Over 9-10 June there was more inshore races off Leucate, followed by the second offshore race that set sail on 13 June for the Porquerolles, where after more days of inshore racing the event concluded. So in addition to the 260+ offshores, racing at the three ports comprised a mix of short course and 20 or so mile long coastal races.
This year's event was convincingly won by Figaro veteran and 'green giant' Gildas Morvan, skipper of Cercle Verte, although the fight went to the wire. In addition to Morvan the line-up included other Figaro heavyweights such as former Solitaire winner Eric Drouglazet on Luisina, Marc Emig on Ensemble autour du monde and Laurent Pellecuer on L'Option sud club des partenaires, Olympic sailors such as Morgan Lagravière on Vendée, Damien Guillou on La Solidarité Mutualiste and other offshore or solo offshore specialists such as Jean-Pierre Nicol on Bernard Controls, Portugese ex-Mini sailor Francisco Lobato on Roff, Nicolas Lunven on Generali and 2009 Mini Transat winner Thomas Ruyant on Destination Dunkerque.
Early on in the racing off Marseille, around the islands of Friuli, it was Laurent Pellecuer who came to the fore while the first offshore race to Leucate was won by the event's youngest competitor, French 49er sailor Morgan Lagravière, ahead of Fabien Delahaye and Gildas Morvan. For Lagravière this was the first of his three wins during the event and he is definitely an individual to watch out for this year.
In Leucate six inshores were held and it was Eric Peron on Macif 2009 who put in the most consistent performance, but only two points ahead of Morvan, who won three of the races. However Peron's performance would be let down by a disastrous option he took on the second offshore race to the Porquerolles.
Showing some of the skill his demonstated when he so convincingly won the Series class in the 2009 Mini Transat, Francisco Lobato won this second offshore to the Porquerolles ahead of Jean-Pierre Nicol and Fabien Delahaye. A disappointing result for Morvan, an uncharacteristic 10th place, saw the lead taken from his at this point by Delahaye.
Going into the final inshores off the Porquerolles Delahaye and Morvan had the opportunity to win while the third place on the podium would be fought between Pellecuer and Nicol. In the end it was Morvan who prevailed winning the Grand Prix Porquerolles Hyeres ahead of Pellecuer and Lobato to claim the overall victory.
"All victories are nice, more or less difficult," said Morvan. "This is my third win in the Mediterranean in the Generali. I started the year well but the crew Transat Bénodet - Martinique went wrong [he finished ninth]. I switched to a victory here and I am look ahead to the Solitaire very calmly. The Figaro class has been revitalised with the arrival of young sailors from the training centres in the Vendee and the Mediterranean. They have an awesome experience. I draw the benefit of my experience but I am very careful to remain 'up to date', taking care of my physical preparation and technical details, repeating what I have learned in Port-la-Forêt over the winter."
It is hoped that the Generali Solo will once again become a biennial feature of the Figaro circuit, next taking place in 2013.
1 - MORVAN Gildas / Cercle Vert - 77.00 pts
2 - DELAHAYE Fabien / Port de Caen Ouistreham - 93.00 pts
3 - PELLECUER Laurent / L'Option Sud Club de Partenaires - 97.00 pts
4 - NICOL Jean-Pierre / Bernard Controls - 101.80 pts
5 - LOBATO Francisco / ROFF - 109.00 pts
6 - LAGRAVIERE Morgan / Vendée - 113.00 pts
7 - DROUGLAZET Eric / Luisina - 134.00 pts
8 - RIVET Frédéric / Vendée 1 - 138.00 pts
9 - GUILLOU Damien / La Solidarité Mutualiste - 139.00 pts
10 - LUNVEN Nicolas / Generali - 140.00 pts
11 - PERON Eric / Macif 2009 - 155.00 pts
12 - HARDY Adrien / Agir Recouvrement - 163.00 pts
13 - EMIG Marc / Ensemble autour du monde - 164.00 pts
14 - MOUREN Jean-Paul / MarseillEntreprise - 203.00 pts
15 - MEILHAT Paul / Macif 2011 - 205.80 pts
16 - GIROLET Matthieu / Défi Voile Entreprise - 209.00 pts
17 - RUYANT Thomas / Destination Dunkerque - 212.00 pts