Rounding Needles Fairway after a day and a half of racing...
Rounding Needles Fairway after a day and a half of racing...

Park up

Snakes, ladders and kedging off the Cherbourg peninsula in La Solitaire du Figaro

Tuesday August 2nd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

0630 GMT sched here

After yesterday's foray east along the south coast of the UK, competitors in la Solitaire du Figaro overnight have been re-crossing the English Channel, closing on the French coast.

Rounding Needles Fairway Buoy, slightly earlier than anticipated yesterday afternoon, so the boats set off south back across the Channel in a westerly breeze under spinnaker. Unfortunately by early evening light winds stopped the boats in their tracks, the fleet becalmed for at least two hours. The wind then picked up first in the north, then in the east, causing much confusion and numerous gybes.

Unfortunately in the small hours of this morning as the leaders arrived off the east coast of the Cherbourg peninsula, the boats ran out of breeze and many have been forced to anchor to avoid being pushed back on the tide. At 0400 this morning, 15 miles off Barfleur the wind was zero while there was a cross-current of more than 3 knots.

"Anchors are coming out, otherwise they'll get sucked into Barfleur," reported Race Director, Jacques Caraës. "They could be like that for three hours." Given the depth of around 45m where the fleet is, kedging has been a struggle. On their second night at sea many of the skippers will have had little or no sleep since the start and in this condition they have had to drop the anchor manually along with 15m of chain and 60m of warp attached or risk being washed ashore. 

Savéol skipper Romain Attanasio highlighted the situation this morning: "Whoever wins this leg will be the one who managed to set their anchor!"

The upshot is that there has been a rejigging of the leaderboard. Yesterday's top trio of Jeremie Beyou, Nicolas Lunven and Thomas Rouxel are down to fifth, eighth and four, while moving into the lead at the latest sched is Fabien Delahaye on Port de Caen Ouistreham, ie the local Caen boat with Gildas Morvan on Cercle Verte, leader at the first sched this morning, in second ahead of Laurent Pellucuer on Atelier d'Architecture JP in third.

Leading Brit continues to be Phil Sharp on Spirit of Independence, who at the close of play yesterday was up to fifth but in the overnight shenanigans has dropped to ninth, albeit just 2.3 miles from first.

Due to the park-up the boats are now expected in early afternoon but we suspect that even at this late stage the positions remain far from set.


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