Disaster for Yann Elies
Day 3 of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cashemire has seen drama at Wolf Rock. This lunchtime Yann Elies, skipper of Groupe Queguiner Leucemie Espoir and winner of the last two Solitaire du Figaros rounded the mark, 8nm off Land's End in first place, but one minute later he was forced to abandon the leg after his boat was dismasted.
Eliès recounted: "I had just tacked, was back inside to stack all the bags to windward and I heard a bang. I went out and everything was down. I was really afraid to drift on the lighthouse. I could imagine the boat ended up on the rocks. But in the end, everything went well. Now, I want to get back to land and have a beer! I think it's the starboard D1 that broken. To tell you the truth, this Solitaire was not starting that well and I started to have many tiny problems. I did not have a good feeling about it. I was worried - I was waiting for something to break. For sure it's a shame, but I will have time to think about it a little later. I want to go home now.”
Elies is now making his way towards Falmouth, where he should arrive at around 2100BST. If he can get his boat repaired in time, he will be able to rejoin the race in Plymouth at the start of Leg 2 on Saturday. Elies will face a time penalty of two hours on top of the time taken by the last sailor to finish Leg 1, effectively quashing his chances of entering the history books with a third consecutive win.
With Elies out of the Leg, Charlie Dalin on Normandy Elite Team now leads the fleet south across the channel to Roscoff, followed by Jeremie Beyou on Maitre Coq and Paul Meilhat's SMA.
Artemis Offshore Academy's Sam Matson on Artemis 21 has made great progress along the English coast. From 23rd at Portland Bill, the 23 year old is now up to ninth and is at present both top British sailor and top rookie.
The final 160nm of Leg 1 will be challenging weather-wise. Around Wolf Rock the fleet had 20-35 knots of southwesterly wind and rough seas with a two metre swell. The solo sailors can expect the wind to drop overnight and the crossing from Roscoff back north to the Plymouth finish-line could be sluggish with just 5-10 knots of wind from the southwest.
Charlie Dalin said: "It took me some time to recover after my start. The sea is messy, choppy now: it is not easy to let the autopilot steer. We should be at Wolf Rock in ten hours, but if the wind strengthens, we will have to change the sails configuration. The return Channel crossing will be very complicated, because according to me it will be tough all the way to Plymouth. I'm happy to be where I am, happy with my speed and since the start."
Paul Meilhat added: “The breeze rises gradually and I am wondering about hoisting solent jib. I went southwest at Start Point to get the wind shift, as I wanted to be windward of the fleet as the breeze will strengthen getting towards Wolf Rock. I've managed to have a few naps every six hours and that's fine. This afternoon, we will still be at the same pace as now, but on the other tack ! The wind will reduce gradually as we get closer to Brittany. The next difficult part will be the approach of the Roscoff buoy as the wind will be very light ... "
Positions at 1630 BST
1. Charlie Dalin (Normandy Elite Team) 160 nm to finish
2. Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) +0.5nm
3. Erwan Tabarly (Aror Lux) +0.9nm
4. Paul Meilhat (SMA) +1.1nm
5. Alexis Loison (Groupe Fiva) +1.1nm
6. Fabien Delahay (Skipper Macif 2012) +1.2nm
7. Adrien Hardy (Agir) +1.3nm
8. Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) +1.8nm
9. Sam Matson (Artemis 21) +2.2nm
10. Gildas Mahe (Interface Concept) +2.5nm
International Sailors as of 1630BST
9. Sam Matson (Artemis 21) +2.2nm
12. Henry Bomby (Red) +2.9nm
23. Alan Roberts (Artemis 23) +6.0nm
24. David Kenefick (Full Irish) +6.3nm
27. Jack Bouttell (GAC Pindar) +7.0nm
30. Nick Cherry (Redshift) +7.6nm
33. Rich Mason (Artemis 77) +8.8nm
34. Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) +9.6nm
37. Ed Hill (Macmillan Cancer Support) +20.9nm