Solitaire du Figaro leaders: Morgan Lagravière (left), with leader Yann Elies and Fabien Delahaye (right)
Photo: Alexis Courcoux
Solitaire du Figaro leaders: Morgan Lagravière (left), with leader Yann Elies and Fabien Delahaye (right)

Solitaire du Figaro leg 2 underway today

Tricky start expected out of Gijon anticipated

Sunday July 1st 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

Leg two of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire sets sail today at 1300 local time with a 442 mile hike from Gijon on the north coast of Spain to Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, the well known home of Chantier Beneteau, manufacturer of the 32ft Figaro Beneteau II one design used in La Solitaire.

After a lap of the Bay of Gijon, the 37 solo sailors once again head out across the Bay of Biscay bound for the notorious Raz de Seine, 274 miles away. This highly restricted channel between the Ile de Seine and Pointe de Raz on the southwest Brittany coast, which they passed through on leg one, is one of the most significant tidal gates along the French coast. Passing through this with the tide, rather than against it, could prove to be a make or break moment on this leg.

“We are going to be passing through the Raz with a 90% coefficient tide, so it is going to be pretty fruity whichever direction the tide is going,” says Artemis 23 skipper Sam Goodchild. “Our ETA there is Tuesday morning, 36 hours after the start but even if you are with the tide, the waves breaking off the lighthouse there are going to be pretty big.”

Once they have managed the hair raising passage through the Raz, the solo skippers then turn their bows southwest to sail down France’s Atlantic towards the finish line off Saint Gilles Croix de Vie. Down this coast there are significant gains to be made tactically, making the most of the gradient wind offshore or coastal effects inshore. A key decision for the tired skippers will be whether to go inside or outside of Belle Ile which lies directly on the route to the finish.

But one of the most significance moments of this leg will be the start as the skippers attempt to break away from the Spanish coast. The high pressure ridge extending into the Bay of Biscay, that hampered the boats for most of an afternoon on leg one, is back and the boats will have to get through this before they can break into the southwesterlies to the north of it.

Artemis 77 skipper Nick Cherry is currently 6 minutes and 31 seconds ahead of team mate Sam Goodchild in the overall rankings and as the leading non-French sailor in this year’s La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire is currently 3 hours 46 minutes and 17 seconds behind overall race leader Yann Elies on Groupe Queguiner/Journal des enterprises. In Solitaire terms this is quite a deficit compared to the first leg of last year’s race when the top 30 finished the first leg within an hour.

Cherry is also at present fourth placed ‘rookie’, lying 2 hour 17 minutes 44 seconds behind 1st placed former Mini sailor Thomas Normand on Financiere de l’Echiquier.

Looking ahead to the second and penultimate leg of this Solitaire du Figaro, Cherry believes: “It seems that the wind is mainly in the southwest with some small changes, so for most of the race it will be reaching to Raz du Seine and reaching back down the French coast – so a speed test. The important thing will be to get away from the land in Gijon where it might be very light and away from the shore. The boats that get out first will probably lead the whole leg.”

Sam Goodchild agrees the first 12-18 hours of the race will be light and it is likely they won’t know exactly where the centre of the ridge is until they get out there tomorrow. “Whether the wind is coming from the northeast or southwest and what local effects there will be from the coast when we leave - we are not entirely sure. Even a little variation can change the situation quite a lot.”

In terms of sleep management this leg could be a difficult one. While the southwesterly will fill in to the north of the ridge, it is likely to be shifting significantly as the high undulates to the south and this will require the skippers to remain perpetually on alert. “If it is VMG running, sleeping will be easier, especially if it is at night time, because a pilot on true wind angle mode is significantly better than a sailor who can’t see where he’s going and is tired,” says Goodchild. “Whereas if the wind shifts forward a bit, there is not going to be much opportunity to sleep.”

On this leg Goodchild says he wants to improve his tactics which he was disappointed with on leg one. “They were pretty loose and erratic, especially towards the end of the last leg, so I am hoping to be a bit tidier this time and to take a few less risks and try and get a decent result.”

At present the routing is suggesting a leg time of two days and 18 hours, but, depending on the outcome of the boats’ exit from the high on Monday morning, this could change significantly.

See the latest blogs from the Artemis Offshore Academy's Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry here

Results from leg 1 

Pos Boat  Skipper Cumulative time
1 Groupe Queguiner / Journal des entreprises Yann Elies 3 days, 3h 9m 7s
2 VENDEE Morgan Lagravière 3 days, 3h 18m 4s
3 SKIPPER MACIF 2012 Fabien Delahaye 3 days, 3h 29m 26s
4 GENERALI Nicolas Lunven 3 days, 3h 46m 42s
5 GEDIMAT Thierry Chabagny 3 days, 3h 49m 27s
6 SKIPPER MACIF 2011 Paul Meilhat 3 days, 4h 0m 38s
7 NACARAT Erwan Tabarly 3 days, 4h 8m 17s
8 SEPALUMIC Frédéric Duthil 3 days, 4h 9m 34s
9 LA SOLIDARITÉ MUTUALISTE Damien Guillou 3 days, 4h 12m 42s
10 SKIPPER HERAULT Xavier Macaire 3 days, 4h 14m 31s
11 GROUPE FIVA Alexis Loison 3 days, 4h 15m 20s
12 CERCLE VERT Gildas Morvan 3 days, 4h 20m 19s
13 IN EXTENSO experts comptables Nicolas Jossier 3 days, 4h 37m 7s
14 FINANCIÈRE DE L'ECHIQUIER Thomas Normand* 3 days, 4h 37m 40s
15 KEOPSYS Charlie Dalin 3 days, 5h 0m 47s
16 BANQUE POPULAIRE Jeanne Grégoire 3 days, 5h 3m 45s
17 SEIXO PROMOTION Julien Villion * 3 days, 5h 19m 32s
18 DESTINATION DUNKERQUE Thomas Ruyant 3 days, 5h 24m 36s
19 AGIR RECOUVREMENT Adrien Hardy 3 days, 5h 33m 11s
20 DLBC Yoann Richomme 3 days, 5h 50m 57s
21 GALETTES SAINT-MICHEL Isabelle Joschke 3 days, 6h 0m 49s
22 BRETAGNE – CRÉDIT MUTUEL ESPOIR Corentin Horeau * 3 days, 6h 6m 40s
23 PRATI'BÛCHES Vincent Biarnes 3 days, 6h 29m 54s
24 ARTEMIS 77 Nick Cherry * 3 days, 6h 55m 24s
25 ARTEMIS 23 Sam Goodchild 3 days, 7h 1m 55s
26 BRITANIE COSMÉTIQUES David Sineau 3 days, 7h 6m 44s
27 ROFF Francisco Lobato 3 days, 7h 33m 47s
28 ENTREPRENDRE LAFONT PRESSE Matthieu Girolet 3 days, 7h 39m 9s
29 KICKERS Sebastien Picault 3 days, 8h 6m 3s
30 ARTEMIS 37 Henry Bomby * 3 days, 8h 36m 26s
31 JEHOL Didier Bouillard 3 days, 8h 37m 8s
32 KRISTIN FOR FULLE SEIL Kristin Songe Moller * 3 days, 9h 22m 56s
33 VOYONS LARGE Eric D'Hooghe 3 days, 10h 2m 3s
34 ONE NETWORK ENERGIES Yannig Livory 3 days, 10h 41m 16s
35 BERNARD CONTROLS Jean-Pierre Nicol 3 days, 12h 41m 16s
35 BRETAGNE CRÉDIT MUTUEL PERFORMANCE Anthony Marchand 3 days, 12h 41m 16s
35 GROUPE SNEF Jean Paul Mouren 3 days, 12h 41m 16s

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