James Boyd Photography / www.thedailysail.com

Morgan Lagraviere first home

26 year old former Olympic 49er sailor wins La Solitaire's third leg into Roscoff

Sunday June 16th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Vendée skipper Morgan Lagravière crossed the line at 00:03:55 local time (22:03:55 UTC) to take line honours on La Solitaire du Figaro's third and penultimate leg from Gijon to Roscoff. His time for the 436 mile long leg was 2 days, 12 hours, 3 minutes and 55 seconds at an average speed of 7.26 knots.

For the 26-year-old Lagravière, this is the latest step in what has been a meteoric career to date in the Figaro class. Having finished with Olympic 49er sailing, he was top rookie in the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro and finished second to Yann Elies last year. His latest achievement represents his first ever leg win in La Solitaire.

After a brief spell upwind soon after the start out of Gijon on Thursday, Lagraviere took the lead and apart from a short period early on Saturday morning when he tacked offshore to get past Pointe de Penmarch, he never lost it.

Slightly red in the eyes, but otherwise alert, Lagraviere said on his arrival into Roscoff's Port de Plaisance that he was pleased to have won the leg. “Conditions were very varied - strong winds, light winds, it was a very complete leg - it had everything. I am very proud to have won it, because there was a lot less randomness in this leg than there was in the first two.”

Lagraviere said he is capable of sailing his Beneteau Figaro II fast and this distinctly benefitted him on this leg where the majority of the course was reaching and tactical options were few.

Upon his arrival in Roscoff, Lagraviere knew nothing of the forestay breakage on Yann Elies' Groupe Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir, that has put him into content for the overall lead. In fact he had resigned himself to believe that winning overall was not possible after the results on leg one. “This Solitaire was played out in the first leg and there isn't a lot I can do about that now. I am taking each leg as a separate race. I am not thinking of the overall result.”

However his prospects are looking increasingly good. As Lagraviere's Vendee finished, the wind was dropped at the same time as the tide was turning, neither of which will benefit Yann Elies who is attempting to nurse his boat to the finish line despite his broken forestay. At the time Lagraviere finished, Elies was lying 22nd with 12 miles still to sail to the line.

“It really worked out well for me - as time goes by the more time, they are going to collect,” observed Lagraviere of the boats coming in behind him.

The toughest part of the leg was certainly last night after rounding Ile d'Yeu, close to his home port of St Gilles Croix de Vie. “It was pretty windy. There was a front that went through and we had up to 30 knots of wind and the sea became very rough. I was taken a bit by surprised at that. The wind increased much faster than I thought it would and I had to rush to change my headsail. I didn't feel that I made a particularly good manoeuvre, but in hindsight it went well and I think I gained quite a bit from it."

With the arrival of Lagraviere and since then Fred Duthil on Sepalumic in eighth place, 27 minutes after him, so Duthil has taken the overall lead on cumulative elapsed time. In terms of overall times, Duthil is now 29 minutes and 56 seconds ahead of Lagraviere, and 45 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Xavier Macaire (Skipper L'Herault) who arrived in Roscoff in third place.

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