Photo: Courcoux-Marmara/Le Figaro

Beyou wins into Dun Laoghaire

20 minute lead for 2005 winner at the end of leg two of La Solitaire du Figaro

Wednesday August 10th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Ireland

2005 winner Jérémie Beyou on BPI crossed the finish line off Dún Laoghaire, Ireland not only to win the second leg, but take the overall lead in the four-leg La Solitaire du Figaro. Nicolas Lunven, the 2009 winner was second with Adrien Hardy, who won the leg into Ireland in 2010, third. Morgan Lagravière, was top rookie in 6th. The first of the four British sailors, Phil Sharp, was 23rd, just over an hour behind the leader.

The pewter grey skies cleared briefly to let some bright sun through to spotlight the first Figaro on the horizon and reveal the breakaway leader of the remaining 46 solo sailors as they closed on the finish line. The second leg, 440 miles from Caen to Dún Laoghaire close to Dublin on the East coast of Ireland, set off last Sunday and took just over 65 hours for the winner to complete. Beyou blew up his spinnaker in the shifty breeze just a couple of miles from the finish, but had been surfing downwind at a blistering average of 14 knots, while keeping a close eye on his pursuers as he helmed his boat to victory crossing the line at 10:15. The successful and experienced French solo sailor, averaged 6.7 knots over the 65 hours and 25 minutes and 16 seconds he took to complete leg two. He was both jubilant and exhausted upon arrival.

“Oh my, it feels good to get to the finish line… and in first," said an elated Beyou on his arrival. "I’ve worked a lot for this race and sometimes it just pays off. It’s not easy to be in front and stay there. All in all I feel very happy. Winning is something magical, impossible to explain what you feel - it’s just great. It was a tough one, squalls at the start and at the finish…it looked like it was going to last forever.

"The wind on the last part was coming in from all over the place, shifting continuously. My big spinnaker just exploded in the final miles of the race, but then I guess it was taking its revenge as I treated it so badly! And the boat too, I reckon Fanch (his shore crew) is going to be busy with repairs.

"Last night there were three of us, Nico Lunven, Erwan Tabarly and myself sailing side by side… I really took the gamble by going along the coast on the most direct route - not an easy decision to sail so close to the Irish coastline. We all knew it was going to be a hard leg. I was the first one to hoist the spinnaker yesterday - the others were waiting and I said to myself: 'Go Beyou, you can do it!'

"I did not sleep much on the first night and on the first day either. It was impossible, but I had some rest on the second one, sailing along under the southern British coastline towards Lands End. O would not quite call what I had sleep; it was more like a few siestas on deck to keep an eye on Erwan Tabarly."

Nicolas Lunven sailing on Generali arrived just under 20 minutes later in second place with Adrien Hardy on Agir Recouvrement finishing third a further 18 minutes astern.

Members of the National Yacht Club, international visiting media, and support shore crew welcomed the skippers on the arrival pontoon with champagne to celebrate.

The four British entries, was led again by Phil Sharp on Spirit of Independence in 23rd, just over an hour behind the leader with Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) in 32nd, Sam Goodchild, the youngest skipper at just 21, 33rd aboard Artemis and Conrad Humphreys (DMS) in 40th just over two hours behind the winner.

Sharp commented: "It was a hard race, it was very testing in certain places, but they were actually very exciting and enjoyable conditions. I hit a particularly good set of waves and I was just surfing along at 18 knots for about half a minute. Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable, we’re all insane!"

Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) and Sam Goodchild (Artemis) were fighting neck-and-neck for much of the leg. King said: “We had a chat last night, we were close enough to talk to each other! I’ve had a better leg than last leg but I didn’t sail the first 18 hours very well. I don’t know what’s going on, I lost a lot of time in the first twenty-four hours and then spend the rest of the race trying to figure out how to recover.”

Conrad Humphreys (DMS) decided to stay to the east to avoid an area of high pressure initially forecast, but now questions that decision: “I realised I’d made a mistake by not crossing over to the Irish coast early enough but I’m happy, we’ve got here in one piece and I’m still in very close contention with the rest of the pack, so that’s the most important thing. I love Ireland and I’m sure there’s a very good pint of Guinness waiting for me!”

Sam Goodchild (Artemis) had made the decision to tack early upon rounding the Channel Islands: “That was a bad idea, I got my timings wrong. There were three big tactical decisions, the first two I made were wrong which was disappointing and I think I could have done better in this leg. The third was okay and I made up for a lot of time lost after Land's End.”

Portugal's Francisco Lobato on Roff, finished 28th and commented: "This second leg was not much better than the first one. I started well, but then almost all my options were not right and I kept loosing ground on the leaders. Between Land’s End and the St George Channel I decided to go East, it didn’t pay off… Only on the final downwind part, while approaching the finish, I managed to climb back some ten/twelve places by staying more inshore. I can’t say I’m happy with the result.”

The race was really tough and the conditions, with upwind sailing though squalls, strong tidal currents and rocky channels at the start, were truly demanding. But the adrenaline rush come back for the downwind overnight reach up the Irish Sea to the finish.

All 46 competitors remain in Dún Laoghaire Harbour until the start of leg three on Sunday 14 August: 475 miles from Dublin to Les Sables d’Olonne in France.




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