Drag racing to Ile d’Yeu
With the wind in the southeast, the 40 solo sailors en route to Roscoff on leg three of La Solitaire du Figaro have been making solid progress northeast across the Bay of Biscay towards the turning mark off the French coast at Ile d’Yeu.
Reaching usually isn’t the most tactically challenging part of La Solitaire, but it does test a key element of the competition: plain, old fashioned boat speed. In identical 33ft long Beneteau Figaro II one designs, this comes down to attention to detail, along with complete knowledge of boat settings and trim, plus vigilance: the sailors have been attempting to hang on to their big kites with the swell coming from the northwest, the opposite direction to the wind, although this has since dropped, allowing them to get some sleep in the bank.
Nonetheless tactical choices have had to be made and, for example, the entire fleet is west of the direct and shortest route to Ile d'Yeu and mid-afternoon was still pointing well to the north of the island they are due to round tonight. This is because the wind is slightly stronger on the left side of the race course, although the further west they err, the more miles they will have to sail. The skippers are also anticipating the wind veering into the south then southwest later today that should lift them up on to course.
Gilles le Baud on Carnac Thalasso & SPA and Joan Ahrweiller on Region Basse Normandie are the only two to have speared off to the east closer to the great circle to Ile d’Yeu.
The remaining 38 boats are scattered across a race track around 15 miles across with potent groups at either extremity. Leading out to the east are Fabien Delahaye on Skipper MACIF 2012, Adrien Hardy on AGIR Recouvrement and Gildas Morvan's Cercle Verte.
Meanwhile well ahead out on the west side is Paul Meilhat on Skipper MACIF 2011, with Thierry Chabagny on Gedimat and Thomas Ruyant on Destination Dunkerque having dropped back over the course of today, while past winners, Yann Elies on Groupe Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir and Armel le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire, have been sailing a little higher, moving closer to the centre of the track.
The lead group now holds the middle with Morgan Lagraviere on Vendee out in front, a mile ahead of Fred Duthil's Sepalumic. The former 49er sailor pulled ahead after a short period upwind late yesterday afternoon, but lost the lead to Fabien Delahaye out in the east at the 1348 UTC sched today when the wind started veer slightly, benefitting the boats on the right side of the course. However Lagraviere has since regained it.
Lagravière commented: "The beginning of the race hasn’t gone too badly for me. At the moment, the conditions are nice, it is downwind under spinnaker, so we’re going pretty fast. Fairly large gaps were created at the beginning of the race, between the boats and I ultimately benefitted from this. Last night was quiet and it still is today, actually it is rather nice! For the moment all is going as planned. A wind shift should arrive in the late afternoon, to the right and it should be stronger wind tonight as we get near Ile d’Yeu. I see a lot of the competitors on AIS, but I am still close enough so I actually still see the most dangerous of them! I am generally well placed in relation to them, but I cannot control everyone. I am really sailing my own race, as I planned to from the outset. We will see what happens."
However earlier Delahaye had said he hadn’t been happy with his position out in the east: "For now there is pressure and we are closer to the mark, still off course but not that far. I was expecting a little more sun and the pressure has been declining throughout the afternoon and it is very overcast.”
Among the Brits it is once again Sam Goodchild on Shelterbox-Disaster Relief who is putting in the best performance. At 1348 UTC he was lying in 14th place, at the back of the lead group, 2.39 miles astern of Lagraviere. Over the course of today Nick Cherry on Magma Structures has changed lanes. He was in the centre of the course, close to Goodchild, but over the course of today has slowly come up and is now off to the east, 4.3 miles astern of Delahaye.
Also towards the eastern side of the course are the trio of rookies, with overall leader of the Bizuth class, Jack Bouttell on Artemis 77 in 25th, just 0.16 mile ahead of Artemis Offshore Racing teammate Ed Hill on Artemis 37. Also in the same mix, lying 26th, is Claire Pruvot on Port de Caen Ouistreham, the only female in this year’s Solitaire du Figaro and also Bouttell’s biggest challenger for the overall lead of the first timers’ overall ranking. She was just five minutes behind Bouttell after leg two (or 0.7 miles at their present speed).
Irishman David Kenefick, at 22 the youngest competitor in this year’s race, has lost a little ground today when he was forced to climb the rig to replace a stay.
At 1348 UTC Delahaye had 66 miles to go to reach Ile d'Yeu and at this speed the frontrunners should be around mid-evening. The wind is still forecast to veer slowly into the southwest tonight and this will force the competitors to put in a gybe to lay the turning mark.
Positions at 1348 UTC
|2 hr aver||24 hrs|
|1||SKIPPER MACIF 2012||Fabien delahaye||46 05.38' N||3 37.72' W||7.9||39||155.7||265.79|
|2||VENDEE||Morgan Lagraviere||46 10.31' N||3 42.17' W||7.5||34||155||265.92||0.14|
|3||CERCLE VERT||Gildas Morvan||46 04.88' N||3 37.82' W||7.7||35||155.2||266.11||0.33|
|4||GENERALI||Nicolas Lunven||46 09.38' N||3 41.98' W||7.5||34||154.9||266.25||0.46|
|5||AGIR RECOUVREMENT||Adrien Hardy||46 05.29' N||3 38.94' W||7.8||37||154.8||266.54||0.76|
|6||SEPALUMIC||Frederic Duthil||46 08.96' N||3 42.73' W||7.5||35||154.2||266.91||1.12|
|7||SKIPPER HERAULT||Xavier Macaire||46 08.75' N||3 42.89' W||7.5||34||153.9||267.11||1.32|
|8||DLBC||Yoann Richomme||46 08.60' N||3 42.97' W||7.4||32||154.3||267.23||1.44|
|9||SEIXO HABITAT||Julien Villion||46 09.35' N||3 43.99' W||7.5||33||153.6||267.49||1.7|
|10||BRETAGNE - CREDIT MUTUEL PERFORMANCE||Anthony Marchand||46 08.91' N||3 43.98' W||7.6||34||153.4||267.69||1.91|
|11||PRATI BÛCHES||Vincent Biarnes||46 09.24' N||3 44.50' W||7.7||36||152.8||267.85||2.06|
|12||GROUPE FIVA||Alexis Loison||46 08.00' N||3 43.56' W||7.4||33||153.9||267.88||2.1|
|13||GROUPE SNEF||Jean-Paul Mouren||46 03.61' N||3 39.74' W||7.4||33||153.6||267.93||2.14|
|14||SHELTERBOX - DISASTER RELIEF||Sam Goodchild||46 07.63' N||3 43.75' W||7.6||35||153.5||268.18||2.39|
|15||DFDS SEAWAYS||Frederic Rivet||46 03.08' N||3 39.94' W||7.6||33||153.4||268.34||2.56|
|16||LA SOLIDARITE MUTUALISTE||Damien Guillou||46 06.64' N||3 43.30' W||7.4||33||153||268.41||2.62|
|17||MAITRE COQ||Jeremie Beyou||46 09.40' N||3 46.22' W||7.7||36||152.4||268.83||3.04|
|18||THERMACOTE France||Yannig livory||46 01.99' N||3 40.91' W||7.6||34||152.3||269.52||3.73|
|19||TBS||Michel Desjoyeaux||46 09.57' N||3 48.40' W||7.6||36||150.6||270.09||4.3|
|20||MAGMA STRUCTURES||Nick Cherry||46 03.46' N||3 43.36' W||7.8||40||151.5||270.12||4.33|
|21||IN EXTENSO - Experts comptables||Nicolas Jossier||46 03.49' N||3 44.05' W||8||41||151.5||270.5||4.71|
|22||LAFONT PRESSE||Mathieu Girolet||46 00.47' N||3 42.68' W||7.6||33||150.6||271.39||5.6|
|23||REGION BASSE NORMANDIE||Joan Ahrweiller||45 51.19' N||3 31.72' W||7.9||42||150.6||271.46||5.67|
|24||BANQUE POPULAIRE||Armel Le Cleac'h||46 09.04' N||3 50.93' W||7.3||35||149.5||271.89||6.1|
|25||ARTEMIS 77||Jackson Bouttell||46 02.65' N||3 45.81' W||7.9||37||149.7||271.98||6.2|
|26||ARTEMIS 37||Edmund Hill||46 02.43' N||3 45.89' W||7.7||36||150.4||272.15||6.36|
|27||PORT DE CAEN OUISTREHAM||Claire Pruvot||46 02.80' N||3 46.57' W||7.7||37||149.7||272.34||6.56|
|28||CARNAC THALASSO & SPA||Gilles Le Baud||45 53.15' N||3 36.24' W||7.8||40||150.5||272.41||6.63|
|29||SKIPPER MACIF 2011||Paul meilhat||46 11.77' N||3 53.71' W||7.7||35||148.7||272.44||6.65|
|30||ADOCIS / IB REMARKETING||Benoit Hochart||46 01.96' N||3 46.68' W||7.7||35||148.9||272.86||7.08|
|31||GROUPE QUEGUINER - LEUCEMIE ESPOIR||Yann Elies||46 08.60' N||3 52.45' W||8.1||40||148.8||273.02||7.24|
|32||FULL IRISH||David Kenefick||46 00.26' N||3 46.85' W||7.5||33||148.1||273.9||8.11|
|33||GEDIMAT||Thierry Chabagny||46 08.82' N||3 54.50' W||8||38||147.7||274.2||8.41|
|34||BRETAGNE - CREDIT MUTUEL ESPOIR||Corentin Horeau||46 06.19' N||3 54.79' W||7.6||34||147.5||274.69||8.9|
|35||DESTINATION DUNKERQUE||Thomas Ruyant||46 08.17' N||3 55.64' W||7.8||37||146.3||275.19||9.41|
|36||LES RECYCLEURS BRETONS||Simon Troel||46 07.40' N||3 56.80' W||7.8||35||145.5||276.26||10.47|
|37||ROCKFISH||Henry Bomby||46 08.04' N||3 57.56' W||7.9||35||146||276.45||10.66|
|38||JEHOL||Didier Bouillard||46 05.44' N||3 55.73' W||7.8||36||146.1||276.5||10.72|
|39||REGION AQUITAINE / ATELIER DE France||Amaiur Alfaro||46 04.99' N||3 55.51' W||7.9||36||146.2||276.58||10.8|
|40||BERNARD CONTROLS||Jean-Pierre Nicol||46 04.85' N||4 04.70' W||7.4||30||142.6||278.81||13.02|