Photo: Courcoux-Marmara/Le Figaro

Solitaire du Figaro decider

Leg four from Les Sables d'Olonne to Dieppe departs tomorrow

Saturday August 20th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

The fourth and decisive leg of La Solitaire du Figaro will start tomorrow from Les Sables d’Olonne bound to Dieppe in Normandy.

Among the 46 skippers due to set sail on the final leg, overall leader Jéremie Beyou on BPI seems to be securely on top, with his 34 minutes lead over second placed leg one winner Fabien Delahaye on Port de Caen Ouistreham and over 40 minutes on Nicolas Lunven on Generali).

Among the rookies there is still possibility for change with first placed Morgan Lagravière on Vendée only 17 minutes ahead of his immediate pursuer Xavier Macaire on Starter Active Bridge, a little more than 44 minutes on Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) in third position.

Race director Jacques Caraës, who lives in Aber Wrach’ and has sailed in the area since when he was a kid, described the 430 mile-long leg as: “It’s a long coastal course and it won’t be easy for the skippers to get sleep or relax. There are four crucial points to be tackled with extreme care, where the tide flow will play a central role: the passage of Raz de Sein, the Four then Aurigny and finally the Raz Blanchard. One can’t really say it’s an easy leg. Two thirds will be upwind, in light to medium breeze, and maybe we’ll have a final stretch upwind. True it’s a tough, tricky last leg. But the competitors’ level is so high that it will keep the suspense high up to the finish…”

Unlike the first three legs, the fourth and final one is 100% coastal. Île d’Yeu and Belle-Île have to be left to port, with 180 nautical miles to Ushant, which must be left to port. The passage between Ushant and the mainland will probably be the decisive moment where the different options can still change the overall results: going via the Sein undertow or not, or via the Fromveur or closer to shore via the Four channel. The course plenty of tactical options.

The second part of the race from Ushant around the top of the Cherbourg peninsula, 130 nautical miles, will once again require careful navigation and vigilance. The course is open, with the exception of Île d’Aurigny being left to port, before taking on the Raz de Blanchard at the top of the Cherbourg peninsula. Prior to this, there will be different options like taking a course further offshore at the Channel Islands, while Guernsey is on the direct course, so it is likely the fleet will divide into two groups going around this island.

The last part of the course can be complicated by the raz de Blanchard with its strong current and Barfleur. Finally the skippers cross the Baie de Seine, 90 nautical miles to Dieppe finish line. The very last miles along the coast approaching Cap d'Antifer will be the last obstacle of the race.

Sam Davies, four times participant to La Solitaire du Figaro and one in the very exclusive group of women to have completed the Vendée Globe, is in Les Sables with her partner Romain Attanasio skipper of Saveol. When asked about the race, she commented: “For me it’s probably the hardest sailing race that’s available on the planet. The fact that it’s single-handed obviously makes it pretty extreme to start with. But I think it’s the intensity of the race, you’re just accumulating fatigue, mental and physical tiredness from thinking about tactics, strategy and weather all the time.”

Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) comemnted: “There’s only 40 minutes between me and the leader of the rookie class and a lot could happen in this last leg. If you miss a tide gate then potentially you could lose two hours, so it’s going to be important to be in touch with the front of the fleet as we go around, and capitalise on any change in the weather we see.”

Conrad Humphreys (DMS) added: "The final leg is an epic coastal challenge. Both Ile de Yeu and Belle Ile must be left to port which limits the option to head more offshore and keeps the fleet together close to the coast. The main decision will be when to leave the North Brittany coast to head offshore towards Alderney as the routeing suggests that the weather models are not in agreement.”

Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) said: “It was the start of the Vendee race in 2004 that really inspired me to try to do a Figaro. I want to, in the future, do a competitive Vendee Globe campaign, that’s always been the ambition from day one, that was the ambition when I got a Figaro and this was the training. There’s definitely a different atmosphere at this port, there’s a special connection to offshore sailing here. Everywhere you go there are videos, photographs, the restaurants, the bars have pictures of Vendee skippers, so it’s a nice pick-you-up to everyone who aspires to that race.”

Sam Goodchild (Artemis) said: It’s good to be racing against some of the top guys who are here and learning from them, it just makes the experience a whole lot more beneficial for me as far as what I take away from it. It’s not just another sailing regatta, it’s got so much more to it than that: Learning about your boat, learning about yourself, learning about everything. It’s got so much more to it than I ever imagined, it’s gone way over my expectations.”

Overall elapsed times going into leg 4:

Pos Skipper Boat Time
1 BEYOU Jérémie BPI 184h31'40"
2 DELAHAYE Fabien PORT DE CAEN OUISTREHAM + 34'15"
3 LUNVEN Nicolas GENERALI + 40'52"
4 ROUXEL Thomas BRETAGNE-CREDIT MUTUEL PERFORMANCE + 56'41"
5 TABARLY Erwan NACARAT + 01h07'24"
6 PELLECUER Laurent ATELIER D'ARCHITECTURE JEAN PIERRE MONIER + 01h22'07"
7 CHABAGNY Thierry GEDIMAT + 01h28'28"
8 MARCHAND Anthony BRETAGNE-CREDIT MUTUEL ESPOIR + 01h32'18"
9 NICOL Jean-Pierre BERNARD CONTROLS + 01h33'31"
10 LAGRAVIERE Morgan VENDEE + 01h34'06"
11 MEILHAT Paul MACIF 2011 + 01h35'35"
12 ATTANASIO Romain SAVEOL + 01h38'38"
13 MACAIRE Xavier STARTER ACTIVE BRIDGE + 01h51'23"
14 GREGOIRE Jeanne BANQUE POPULAIRE + 02h05'03"
15 HARDY Adrien AGIR Recouvrement + 02h10'20"
16 DUTHIL Frédéric SEPALUMIC + 02h15'54"
17 LOISON Alexis Port Chantereyne Cherbourg-Octeville + 02h17'47"
18 SHARP Phil The Spirit of Independence + 02h18'29"
19 JOSCHKE Isabelle Galettes Saint Michel + 02h34'41"
20 SVILARICH Etienne Volkswagen Think Blue + 02h38'58"
21 RUYANT Thomas DESTINATION DUNKERQUE + 03h04'17"
22 GUILLOU Damien La Solidarité Mutualiste + 03h35'38"
23 DROUGLAZET Eric LUISINA + 03h46'33"
24 JOSSIER Nicolas Entreprendre en Pays Granvillais + 03h48'15"
25 DALIN Charlie Keopsys + 03h50'51"
26 BIARNES Vincent PRATI'BÛCHES + 04h07'27"
27 RICHOMME Yoann DLBC + 04h29'12"
28 GOUEZIGOUX Laurent VALORISONS + 04h35'08"
29 MORVAN Gildas CERCLE VERT + 04h41'09"
30 PERON Eric MACIF 2009 + 04h42'58"
31 MONNET Jean-Charles PARIS 15 - Château Peyrat Fourthon + 04h51'29"
32 HUMPHREYS Conrad DMS + 05h37'30"
33 RIVET Frédéric VENDEE 1 + 06h26'42"
34 MOUREN Jean-Paul GROUPE SNEF + 07h22'26"
35 GIROLET Matthieu ENTREPRENDRE (LAFONT PRESSE) + 08h50'41"
36 GOODCHILD Sam Artemis + 08h56'36"
37 BOTHUON Michel LES RECYCLEURS BRETONS + 09h40'27"
38 LOBATO Francisco ROFF + 09h44'28"
39 KING Nigel E-Line Orthodontics + 10h20'52"
40 EMIG Marc ENSEMBLE AUTOUR DU MONDE + 10h51'35"
41 LE GARREC Loic SAVEURS D'EVENEMENTS + 11h04'11"
42 LITTOZ-BARITEL Alexis SAVOIE MONT-BLANC + 11h25'56"
43 PICAULT Sébastien KICKERS + 12h23'14"
44 LIVORY Yannig ONE NETWORK ENERGIES + 15h16'18"
45 GODART-PHILIPPE Arnaud SENOBLE + 28h58'14"
46 TANNYERES Louis Maurice ST ERICSSON + 32h09'08"
47 SINEAU David BRITANIE COSMETIQUES + 50h44'37"

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