Crossing Lyme Bay
Having set sail from Perros Guirec on the north coast of Brittany yesterday morning, so the competitors in the first leg of the Solitaire du Figaro spent yesterday afternoon and evening cross the English Channel bound for the Hands Deep mark northwest of the Eddystone Light off Plymouth.
Crossing the Channel the fleet eered to the west and at the first sched so following the form guide Jeremie Beyou on BPI had edged in the lead ahead of Nicolas Lunven on Generali, Jean-Pierre Nicol on Bernard Controls and Thomas Rouxel on Bretagne Credit Mutuel. Among the Brits at the final sched Phil Sharp on Spirit of Independence was lying 28th place, ahead of Artemis' Sam Goodchild in 29th and Conrad Humphreys on DMS in 31st.
The fleet rounded the Hands Deep mark around midnight and have since negotiated Start Point. At the first sched this morning Thomas Rouxel had moved into the lead with Jeremie Beyou into second while among the Brits Phil Sharp has moved up to 20th and Sam Goodchild is down to 40th. But still just 5.4 miles separates first from 40th place... At the very latest sched at 0600 GMT and the boats are half way across Lyme Bay. Beyou is back into the lead as Rouxel has shifted north, the top three edging ahead of the fleet (but only by a fraction of a mile) while Eric Drouglazet on Luisina and Fabien Delahaye have done well overnight moving up to fourth and fifth positions and Sharp is up to 18th.
At present the wind is just west of due south and light, and the boats are making typically 5.8-6 knots although spinnakers have been stowed as conditions are too flukey. Later today the wind is expected to remain light and veer into the southwest once the boats have passed Portland Bill. In these conditions the tide is the killer and while the boats seem set to pass Portland with the tide it is likely to be foul at St Alban's Point and crossing Christchurch Bay, so will they anchor or go inshore to get out of the tide? Watch this space.
0800 French time sched here