Leg 2 shortened
With a weather forecast which predicts only extremely light and variable winds, the race committee for La Solitaire du Figaro Eric Bompard cachemire has set a shortened course for leg 2, between Porto and Gijòn, which is scheduled to start tomorrow at 13:00 CEST.
Originally 452 miles long, the second leg has already been reduced to 300 nm, with the fleet no longer required to round a weather mark positioned halfway up the Bay of Biscay. After rounding Cap Finisterre on the northwestern tip of the Iberian peninsula, the fleet will now head straight to Gijòn.
The decision was taken partly due to the light weather conditions that are predicted to slow the fleet, but also to give more time for the skippers to recover.
According to Race Director Gilles Chiorri, the new course, despite being shorter, certainly isn't any easier, and it could well last as long as originally scheduled.
In light winds similar to those they experienced over the 24 hours prior to reaching Porto, the 41 competitors will face similar tactical calls, such as whether to stay inshore or try to go and look for fresher breeze offshore.
Already some of the pre-race favourites have notched up significant deficits following on from leg one (see the full results here): Nicolas Lunven (Generali) is 12th two hours behind, Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) 18th 2h 5' behind, Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 19th 2h 6' behind, and three time Solitaire winner Michel Desjoyeaux (TBS) 21th 2h 21' behind.
With his decisive victory into Porto, Yann Eliès has raised the bar high and it won't be easy for his competitors to make up the lost time.
Despite being shortened the leg can be divided into three sections: the 100 miles long stretch from the start to Cape Finisterre, another 80 miles to Cape Ortega and the final 100 or so miles to Gijòn. The last stretch represents real unexplored territory for the Figarists, who as a class have no past experience of sailing in this area.
Based on the latest weather forecast issued by Meteo France's Cyrille Duchesne, the general outlook for leg 2 is for a complex shallow area of low pressure system over the Iberian peninsula extending to France to generate unstable winds from the WNW, veering later into the NW as the fleet will make its way to Cape Finisterre.
From Cape Ortega and all along the Spanish coast, the 41 skippers will have to deal with even more volatile WNW wind, the situation further complicated by the shadowing and shifting effects of the mountainous coastline, before the tricky approach to Gijòn.
Brits ready for leg 2
Well rested, their boats ready, sails repaired, the one Irish and five British skippers after a morning briefing with coach Nicolas Bérénger from CEM, are already keen to get underway. Having scored well on leg the 'roast beefs' aim at repeating this performance, or better.
Sam Goodchild and his Shelterbox – Disaster Relief finished 8th in the first leg while Nick Cherry's Magma Structures was 11th.
Cherry commented: “I have my boat fixed. My food is all prepared so I'm just looking at the weather really. I have I managed to sleep and rest. It looks like leg 2 is going to be light at the start, light wind patches. I want to finish the leg as higher as I can, I have about two hours from the leaders, I'm very happy with my 11th in the first leg”.
Jack Bouttell on Artemis 77 leads the rookies' class, while Ed Hill on Artemis 37 and Henry Bomby on Rockfish are very focused on their target of getting some time back from the leaders, while Ireland's David Kenefick on Full Irish the youngest of the 2013 fleet wishes to celebrate his 22nd birthday on 9 June with a good result.
Henry Bomby commented: “We had a lot of work to do on the boat, the shore guys had to go to a sailmaker loft in Vigo, in Spain to have the sails repaired. We are ready to start for leg 2. I'm feeling ok, not too tired. I want to make sure I'm really well rested because leg 2 and leg 3 are going to be hard. We had a look at the weather forecast, looks quite light in general. It's good I'm not going to break any more sails... I don't think it's going to be too heavy for this leg. What I my goal for? I sailed ok in the first leg, showed some good speed but I came in 28th which is really disappointing for me, I feel I could have done better than that but there are a lot of guys who sailed very well and finished same position as me so... For the second one I wish I can sail a good leg and be happy with it, trying to get into the top 20 if I can. I think I can use some of what I've learned in the first leg, every time you do a leg of the Solitaire you learn so much, there is always some you can take into the next one. I sat down this morning and went through the lesson again, to make sure I don't make the same mistakes again. The Figaro is all about decision making, whether it's which direction to go, what tuning, what trimming to have, you're making decisions all the time. So I have to make the best decisions and the least mistakes“.
David Kenefick added: “I'm well rested I still have one or two little things to do on the boat, I had the repair on the keel done. I just have some more weather briefing to do before we're off. It's good to have been here in Porto and I'm really looking forward to the second leg to try and catch-up. I'm having a briefing with our coach Nico Berenger in a few minutes and we'll see how the situation is but it's going to be quite light and quite tricky like leg 1. I think I'm going to use a lot of what I've learned in leg 1, I'm going to try and stay with the fleet more, stay with the bunch possibly until the finish. My goal is to be top of the rookies and finish as high in the fleet as possible, there is still so many miles to go and so two hours from the first rookie is not that much. There is good work to be done... My Birthday? No I haven't anything on board to celebrate it, no cake... I want to get on the finish line the best I can to celebrate then."