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The 44 skippers get ready for Leg 3 of the Solitaire du Figaro in a surprisingly sunny and warm Brest while hundreds of supporters crowd the race village and the pontoons. Tomorrow at 14.00 they will leave Brittany for a challenging new leg up to the Channel, the Celtic Sea, the famous Fastnet Rock and the stunning village of Kinsale, where they return after a 13 years long absence. 349 miles of close and demanding racing, in strong currents, choppy seas and stiff breeze. Plus some accurate strategy towards the finish. The game is not over and many are hunting for glory.

Skippers and shore teams are giving the final touches to the 44 Figaro II that tomorrow at 14.00 will leave Brest for 349 miles of pure competition to Kinsale.

After leaving Brest and the bay of Camaret, the fleet will sail back up the Four channel which may prove difficult due to weak winds, swell and cross currents. The Molène archipelago and the isle of Ushant will have to be left to port side, the Four channel will be left off the reefs of the Portsall plateau leaving the cardinal mark west Grande Basse de Portsall to port side.

The second part of the leg will take the fleet across the Channel, approximately 90 miles to the Cornish coast, marked by Wolf Rock to be left imperatively to port side. The direct route will take the 44 skippers to sail between the Scilly Isles and Land's End. The 165-mile long sail up the Celtic sea will take the fleet to round the mythical Fastnet lighthouse, which will have to be left to starboard before heading East. The last stretch of around 45 nautical miles will surely be very hard for the tired sailors who will have to make use of their last energies to get to Kinsale, finish of leg 3, where the race has not returned to since its 28th edition in 1997. If this leg is the shortest, it certainly will not be the easiest. The passage along the coast of Finistère and the long and complex route from the Fastnet to Kinsale will no doubt be the hardest parts of this leg to negotiate.

According to the latest weather bulletin issued by Meteo France expert Sylvain Mondon the skippers will have to deal with a first part relatively good as far as wind is concerned, with a south westerly breeze of 10/14 knots that will accompany them to the Scilly. The wind will later strengthen due to a front hovering over the area and the sea state will be particularly hard to tackle.

Apart form the French stars such as Le Cleac'h, Gabart, Rouxel, Beyou or the best placed female skipper Jeanne Gregoire and the first rookie Anthony Marchand, the international skippers are also ready to fight for a "personal best" in Leg 3 or to take their revenge after somehow disappointing performances. So far the top spot among the non-French goes to expert Swiss Bernard Stamm (who is is also third placed in the newcomers special ranking, racing his first Solitaire ever) in 18th, French/German Isabelle Joschke is 28th, Italian Pietro D'Alì is 31st, Portoguese Francisco Lobato is 38th and unlucky Briton Jonny Malbon, who suffered an autopilot failure in Leg 2 and was forced to steer for three days, is in last position but ready to strike back.

Kinsale will welcome the 2010 Solitaire du Figaro for the 19th time in the 41-year history of the race. Kinsale still is the location to have hosted the highest number of legs of the race. No doubt the skippers will be eager to discover or rediscover this charming village, which has so strongly marked the life of the event.

Quotes from the skippers in Brest, at midpoint in the 2010 Solitaire

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat)

"From a racing standpoint it's an average performance, I'm 18th, at mid fleet. I still make so many different mistakes, I guess I'm still far from the leaders' level but it does not come as a surprise. I find what I came looking for and I'm pretty satisfied, all considered. In the second leg I made a huge strategical error after Penmarch, that could have been even more costly. I didn't in the first leg, just had some speed issues and lost ground. I'm enjoying this close racing very much, it's funny to have always someone next to you. It's useful to keep learning, I'll try to keep the faults to a minumim and go up in the general ranking.

I would like to do more but the schedule for the 60' is already quite intense, the Figaro is not for amateurs , it's also physically very demanding, it's fun but hard."

Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire)

"You have to suffer, in the Solitaire. Hurt yourself on the first leg is ok... but in the second one I really had to push to the limits to get closer to the top. This is what I did, worked hard, slept very little but still tried to think on the long term. And the leg was shorter. Everyone tells me that I'm in top form but I feel as usual, maybe I'm a bit sad because I miss my little one a lot (Jeanne had to skip last year's Solitaire to give birth to a baby girl ed. note) when I'm ashore. I could go home for a while and see her. I feel ok and my position suits me all right, five minutes from the fourth (Jérémie Beyou) but I only have a 30 minutes lead on the 14th, need to be on the lookout."

Romain Attanasio (Savéol)

"The third leg looks promising: at least we will have wind! But I'm wary, the shortest could be the trickiest. You will have to take a good start, deal with the contrary current, be in the leading group to the Scilly, then choose the right option in the Celtic Sea, tacking upwind. And watch out for the last 50 miles along the Irish coast, I hope we won't meet all together again in front of the finish line like it happened in Dingle. Experience show us that anything can happen up there. I find this year the technical level of the so called rookies is incredibly high. In the past being in the Top Ten was a big success, today being among the first half of the fleet is a feat! It takes twelve months for the young sailors to learn what we acquired in ten years!"

Reminder of the key dates:

- LE HAVRE

Suzuki Prologue: Sunday 25th July

Start of the 1st leg: Tuesday 27th July

- GIJON (515 miles)

Start of the 2nd leg: Tuesday 3rd August

- BREST (385 miles)

Start of the 3rd leg: Monday 9th August

- KINSALE (349 miles)

Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 11th August

Start of the 4th leg: Monday 16th August

- CHERBOURG-OCTEVILLE (435 miles)

Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 19th August

Closing Parade: Sunday 22nd August

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

As Kinsale gets ready to host the La Solitaire du Figaro single-handed sailors next week the race Jury met today in Brest to discuss the protest against Yann Eliès, who was forced to use his engine during the first leg to get off after going aground. The sailor was given a two hours penalty and as a consequence he falls from second to 19th place. Following the decision involving the skipper of Generali Europ Assistance the top part of the scoreboard has deeply changed.

The third leg of the race from Brest to Kinsale is 349 miles and it leaves Brest tomorrow.

Eliès got a 30 minutes penalty for breaking the engine seal plus an additional 1 and a half hour for infringing the propulsion rule, two hours in total, that's the judgement for Yann Eliès. Going aground on the beach at Primel is costing dearly to the skipper from Saint-Brieuc: he goes down from second at 51 minutes and 58 seconds from leader Armel le Cleac'h  to 19th distanced of nearly three hours in the general ranking after two legs. He then has to change his goal of winning the 2010 Solitaire, a hard not to say impossible target to reach.

As it happens in sail racing, for nearly every decision from the Jury, this will be judged too heavy or too light according to the profit anyone makes of it, but this one is without appeal and will have to be accepted as it is.
As a result the leader Armel Le Cléac'h (Brit Air) gains another 13 minutes on his immediate follower who is François Gabart (Skipper Macif 2010) at 1hour 04' and Thomas Rouxel (Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne) jumps on the podium at 1hour 31 minutes from Le Cléac'h. In the Top Ten positions in goes a skipper form the Med, that is to say Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel), still at 2hours 08' but now in tenth position. Between him and the top three everyone keeps his or her position but goes up one place. Jérémie Beyou (BPI) is 4th at 1hour 43 minutes; Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire) fifth at 1.48; Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) sixth at1.54; Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) seventh at 1.56; Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) eight at 1.58; Eric Peron (Skipper Macif 2009) ninth at 2.01. To be noted that ait's a very small time difference that separated the fourth to the tenth placed skipper: only 25 minutes. The podium for the newcomers is also affected by this new general ranking with each of the rookies going up one step: Anthony Marchand (Espoir Région Bretagne) is now 12th at 2.14, Yohann Richomme (DLBC) 14th at 2.18 and Swiss Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) 18th at 2.47.

During today's meeting the Jury also inflicted a 20 minutes penalty to Sébastien Josse (Vendée) for breaking his engine seal following some issues in recharging his batteries. This decision, in fact, has no direct consequence on Josse's general ranking: he still occupies the 34th position at 5.56 from the leader.

Yann Eliès (Generali Europ Assistance) comments the Jury's decision:
"The penalty was not easy to accept at first. Now, in retrospective I believe it is a good decision. You can't let a skipper who used his engine win a race as important as the Solitaire du Figaro. It's a question of fair play and image, and I'm one of the strongest believer in this concept. I've got 48 hours to try and recover, get mentally ready to go on racing. I wish to do something good, why not winning a leg to finish my Solitaire with my pride intact?"

Jean-Bertrand Mothes Massé, President of the Jury:
"Despite considering that Yann has made a serious mistake for a professional sailor going aground, the Jury is also convinced that he acted with seamanship, using his skills to save his boat. Moreover he did not ask for outside assistance. We then decided to increase the penalty established by the class and the racing rules."

At noon today the Figaro Race Village hosted a crowded prize giving ceremony, in groups of four all the skippers went on the scene for a short speech and to get a well deserved applause.

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

No wonder that he's called "the Jackal", Armel Le Cleac'h is showing such a determination and mental strength in La Solitaire du Figaro that he surely deserves the nickname. On Friday August 6th at 2 hours 44 minutes and 40 seconds he crossed the finish line in front of the Moulin Blanc harbour, in Brest. It took Brit Air's skipper 2 days, 44 minutes and 40 seconds to sail the 385 miles long leg from Gijón to Brest, at an average speed of 6.34 knots. Le Cleac'h, left no options to his more direct adversaries, François Gabart (Skipper Macif 2010) and Jérémie Beyou (BPI) who were left to duel for the second place. Fourth on the line and first female skipper a happy Jeanne Gregoire (Banque Populaire) who crossed a mere 11 seconds earlier than Yann Elies (Generali – Europe Assistance).

A determined and convincing Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO-TEAM) finished 6th overall and is the first rookie, getting also a special prize awarded by Bénéteau, and regaining morale after his disappointing first leg.
Despite loosing some ground on the final stretch to Brest, Italian Pietro D'Alì got a good 16th place, whilst other non French skippers were Swiss Bernard Stamm (Cheminée Poujoulat) in 23rd  and Isabelle Joschke (Synergie) in 27th.

A fatigued Jonny Malbon finally crossed the finish line in last place at 12.36 on Friday. Reaching the pontoon, he was warmly welcomed by several of his competitors, by the public and the media, where, despite being visibly worn out he gave a very lucid account of what happened to him, explaining that just two hours after the start form Gijon his pilot failed and he had to steer for the following three days, without being able to sleep, rest, eat or drink. Physically and mentally exhausted he also suffered from allucinations.

Quotes from the skippers upon their arrival in Brest:
Armel Le Cléac'h (Brit Air), winner of the leg and leader of the overall ranking
"it's becoming a nice tradition this champagne bottle... What an intense race, endless I would say. Towards the finish I was a bit stressed, but crossing in first is such a joy." And about the race: "We had to manoeuvre a lot, change sails, make strategic choices. I took my chances and seized the initiative, tried to be one step ahead and I realized the my opponents in a way were following me... that's why I could stand up to the finish. I had to be careful with François (Gabart) and Jérémie (Beyou) which were with me in the front with me. And I can keep my first overall. It was very physical, very tiring up to SN1, we had 35 plus winds, heavy swell, you had to steer and it was nearly impossible to sleep. You had to endure all that. Luckily after Groix, the swell eased off and I could have some rest, taking 20 minutes max naps. All in alla I think I slept 3 or 4 hours."
On his victory, Le Cleac'h commented: "I'm exhausted and thrilled because the last months have been fantastic for Brit Air and it proves that all the work we've done with the team is paying us back.  As for now I'm contented with the result, we're only half stage, I guess I have to wait until Kinsale, it's too early to judge, I need to go on sailing well and enjoy the race.

Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO-TEAM) - 6th overall and first rookie
"I'm really satisfied, tired but happy as I reached my target. For the first time in the Solitaire I've always been in the leading group. The hardest part was at the beginning where I could not get any rest, had to helm all the time and I was pretty exhausted, I found it difficult to get into the race's rhythm. I slept for hours total, I guess. I'm still on a learning curve, grasp something new everyday, especially from the "experts" and that's why is so important for me to be here. I still make small mistakes and in this class you pay for each of them dearly. The final part was brilliant as I could make up ground to the leaders."

Pietro D'Alì (I.NOVA.3) – 16th overall
"I did a good race, all in all. I've recovered well from the OCS at the start, was fast and could stay in the front of the fleet, among the top ten. We had fairly hard conditions, some bad squalls. During one I was sailing with the spinnaker in Eric Drouglazet's company when the wind gusted suddenly to maybe 40 knots, the boat went 90° off course and I had to rush forward to take down the spinnaker and hoist the genoa, in the process the boat was lying on one side... we got pretty wet and lost some ground. You can't afford any of that in the Figaro. My race was all right up to the Groix, then I tried to "make a coup" and get closer to the podium."

François Gabart (Skipper Macif 2010) second placet at 16'55' from the leader
"We had two incredible legs. On the first night we were crossing the ridge, in light airs, the day after we hd 30 knots and on the third day we were wearing only our T shirts. This is the Solitaire, being able to have so many different conditions in just one leg. Moreover, I sailed well. After the start I was not in the leading group and I focussed on speed. Jérémie (Beyou) took me over last night at Belle Ile and then we've been fighting like mad. Just imagine that at the Goulet (a few miles before the finish ed. note) we were only three lengths apart but when we arrived into the gulf I managed to catch him up, Wha ti like best it's the sensation that I'm learning and progressing. I'm no longer what I was last year and for a sailor that's a very positive sensation to be better than before. Armel is very strong but we'll do our best to stop him."

Jonny Malbon (Artemis) last placed in Brest
"Just after the start in Gijon the autopilot started misbehaving. I went on the process of checking everything, the terminals, the connections, the link to the instruments but the thing was dead. I tried to continue as best as I could with no pilot, it was horrible. The scariest thing for me was changing from the genoa to the solent in big, big seas in 35 knots, it was horrendous, not very much fun... I'm just absolutely exhausted, it feels horrible, I'm happy to be here but being flat last is not good. I haven't slept at all, or better I must have been asleep but I didn't realize. I haven't been down below at all, haven't eaten very much. I've crashed tacks so many times and gibed involuntarily trying to use the pilot. I'm happy to be here and I hope we can fix the problem and get on with leg three. It's quite strange actually and it may sound like I'm crazy but I had hallucinations, all sorts of things: the waves take funny shapes, the boats and lights merge, they all merge into one and the look like cars... The worst time was when the weather got worse, Tuesday I guess, and we were having 35 knots in the evening. I spent all day thinking I don't want to change the sail because it's not windy enough. I waited and waited and changing the genoa in about 28 knots is really frightening...the waves are huge and at that point I wish I had done it sooner. To do that I turned the boat into the wind and the tiller was not operating, that was ok to go forward and change the sail or put a reef. I'm very, very tired and I'm upset that I lost a leg, I just can wipe leg 2, it's gone and that's going to affect me overall. Sad because I started well I was with the rest of the fleet on the right side of the course. I've virtually lost the race, I'm flat last with no chance to recover. The next two legs are just about me doing my best..."

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro
Sun, warm weather and light wind are all just a memory for the 45 skippers participating to the 41st Solitaire du Figaro. The fleet crossed the high pressure ridge fairly early and is now preparing for the second night at sea, on their plate strong breeze, autumnal weather and rain. SN1 mark could be rounded soon.

The worries of crossing the high pressure ridge are only a memory for the skippers who left Gijon to Brest for the 385 long second leg. The fleet is well spread out over a 17 miles large area and the coming hours will be crucial to judge whether the best option was East, West or centre, that is to say the shortest one to the target. By now the more easterly route seems to have paid off but it will not be until the SN1 mark that the games will be revealed. All the boats are keeping impressive average speeds and the mix of good strategy, physical strength and good manoeuvring will make a difference.

"It could well be that the leaders will round the mark around 10 p.m." said Race Director Jacques Caraës "It's going to be a fairly exerting night and I advised all the skipper to wear their lifejackets, personal Epirb and a flash light at night. Just to remind them, you know."

As far as the ranking is concerned the leader at the latest position report (at 16hrs) was Jèrémie Beyou (BPI)  who has a little more than 3 miles advantage on second placed François Gabart (Skipper Macif 2010), third is the well experienced Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel) while the winner of the first leg and leader of the general scoreboard  Armel Le Cléa'ch (Brit Air) is fourth at 3,9 miles. Italian Pietro D'Alì seems to have found the right feeling with his Figaro II and is fifth at 4.5 miles behind Beyou.

Portoguese Fracisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO TEAM) is also doing very well, second of the rookies and ninth overall, less than 6 miles from the top. The positions of the other non French skippers are Isabelle Joschke (Synergie) in 17th at 8 miles, Swiss Bernard Stamm (Cheminée Poujoulat) 29th whilst Briton Jonny Malbon (Artemis) is trailing in fourth, distanced by 16.10 miles

Quotes from the sailors:
Jérémie Beyou (BPI)
"It's becoming more muscular. The courses diverge, my competitors are not in view, I can't see anyone. There are rainstorms and it's pretty choppy out here. I opted to go to leeward, and those more windward have some ten miles lateral separation. We will see if my actual VMG is enough or if they'll catch me. Next position report will tell. The weather is not nice at all, the sky is grey, the swell a bit annoying and the wind strengthened and the air is wet. I'm sailing under spinnaker, pushing hard and trying to make the shortest possible course."

PIETRO D'ALì (I.NOVA.3)
"Everything is all right onboard, after the first 24 hours in very light wind, the breeze got stronger, We're crossing the Bay of Biscay pretty fast, I'm getting ready for the high winds head and some rainstorms. During the night I had to do some sail changes. I'm in the leading pack and it feels good to be here. I really hope to keep this position to the finish, it would be a great result for me!"

Bernard Stamm (Cheminée Poujoulat)
"All well onboard, it's pretty windy, sailing under spinnaker. Cool! I could take some rest, in five minutes naps. There is quite a few boats around me, Isabelle Joschke slowed down a bit but I can see one of the two Skipper Macif boats some hindreds metres in front."

François Gabart (Skipper Macif 2010)
"Things start to become serious, we're sailing fast with the small spinnaker. The breeze is up to 23 knots but my instruments recorded 27 a few seconds ago! There's swell from the left, which makes sailing uncomfortable. You need to focus on helming to be as fast as possible. Last night I decided to stay in the group who chose a central route, because I did not want to risk to be too east or too west, and I'm happy with my choice. Plus, I slept for a good while. We're 90 miles away from SN1 mark gliding at 10 knots

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro
A group of nine teenagers from the Kinsale area is embarking on a Round Ireland Challenge in aid of the world's largest charity hospital ship.
The keen sailors, most of whom have just finished their exams, will be sailing a 39ft yacht round the coast of Ireland over six days in August, to raise money for the international charity, Mercy Ships. The charity provides free medical and humanitarian aid to the poorest countries in Africa via its 500ft hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. It is the first time any of the youngsters have undertaken such a challenge and their training starts this week at the Kinsale Yacht Club, where they will familiarise themselves with the yacht Sonas kindly supplied to them for the challenge by its owner David Ross

Ben Fusco, 19, from Kinsale, said, "We are all keen sailors and wanted to combine our love of sailing with doing something for charity. There are lots of great maritime related charities out there but when we heard about the work of Mercy Ships, we were taken by the idea that a ship provides free medical care to some of the poorest people in the world.

"Hearing that thousands of people every year are given free medical care by volunteers on the ship was inspiring and we knew we had to do something special to raise money for them – hence our Round Ireland Challenge.

More on the forum thread started by Ben Fusco HERE.

Published in Offshore

The 45 Figaro sailors set off from Le Havre in Northern Normandy yesterday on their first leg, 515 miles to the Gijón, in Asturias on the Spanish Cantabrian coastline. The race is calling to the Cork coast next month. Eric Peron (Skipper Macif 2009) grabbed Karine Fauconnier's (Eric Bompard Cachemir) early lead shortly after the last position poll and has continued over the past twenty four hours to maintain a narrow margin over his immediate pursuers, Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat), Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement), Nicolas Lunven (Generali) Armel le Cléac'h (Brit Air).  Sailors who opted for a more inshore course were rewarded with a lead this morning, however as the fleet rounded the Cherbourg headland filing down past and between Guernsey and Sark, the bulk regrouped.  The coming twenty-four hours promises to be just as complex as the sailors attempt to get some rest and keep their keel and rudders clear of the seaweed before embarking on the passage at Four and the maritime traffic at Ushant on the turn south into the Bay of Biscay.

Eric Peron (Skipper Macif 2009) holds just a tenth of a mile lead over both Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) and Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement), all of whom opted for a more inshore route under the rhumb line.  Twenty-nine sailors are within two miles of each other twenty-four hours into racing, proving once more just how high and level the standard of racing is. Each inch of a mile is eked out with effort and concentration.  "What is annoying me most is the seaweed, every 5 minutes you have to get into the water to get rid of it" complained 2009 winner, Nicolas Lunven (Generali) over the VHF this morning.  Seaweed, windless patches and currents are all impediments to the smooth boat handling that the sailors have to contend with constantly.  Keeping up a regular performance whilst attempting to rest and prepare for what looks to be a second complex night at sea constantly eats away at the minds of the solo sailors throughout the day.

"Although we are sailing comfortably in 10 to 12 knots of westerly breeze, tacking our way upto the point of Brittany, we are likely to have a complex night ahead to get past Ushant and the heavy maritime traffic" reported Race Director, Jacques Caraës from the Race Management boat shadowing the fleet.  "Tonight it is going to be tough once more." Explained Isabelle Joschke (Synergie), lying in 18th place at 16:00 Wednesday, "we are most likely going to get round the Four under spinnaker against the current so we should have much of the same, maybe even tougher than last night", she concludes.

Most agree that there will be choices to be taken and options that open upon rounding the next major point of passage, where the wind is forecast to veer round towards the north, northwest and "decreasing before increasing at the Raz de Sein" predicts Sylvain Mondon from Météo France, "the ridge of high pressure is expected to drift tonight just ahead of the fleet right up to Friday, when they will have to negotiate crossing it on the final approach to Gijón.  Early forecast would expect to see the first to finish in Gijón in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Anthony Marchand (Espoir Région Bretagne) leads the rookies in 15th place, whilst Jonny Malbon (Artemis) from the UK lies in 20th place well positioned with the leaders.  Pietro D'Alì (I.NOVA 3) has managed to catch up on the leaders and currently stands in 27th place and just 1.7 nm from the leader, after having lost ground on the more offshore option last night and Francisco Lobato (Roff / Team-Tempo) has narrowed his gap on the leaders to 7.4 miles bringing up the back of the fleet.

Quotes from the sailors:

Eric Peron (Skipper Macif 2009) – Current leader talks over the VHF this afternoon:
There were a few options to be made...and right now I am really quite happy.  You have to take care as there is loads of seaweed and you have to keep an eye to get rid of it.  The wind is not quite what was forecast, which again gives you a few options, which I am keeping an eye on.  Every time the position reports come out you see that we have closed in on each other.  Right now I am getting a bit of rest..."

Damien Cloarec (Port de Plaisance Roscoff) – rookie and in 9th place 13:00 today
"Just coming out of my nap...the start was not all that easy with loads of seaweed and last night it was really tough getting past the Cotentin under the moonlight, the current....and then it was not all that easy round Guernsey this morning.  I must say that I am happy to be here and should be sailing past home (lives near Carantec), but then looking at the level of the fleet, who know what they are doing, I do not think I have all that much of an advantage being local!  Right now I am trying to keep up the pace...I still have not managed to make myself any food.  Sailing close I have Bernard Stamm and Synergie downwind, then just about pretty much all the sailing greats are close by: Armel Le Cléac'h, Nicolas Lunven...so the intention is to try and carry on like this.  The wind is pretty stable at 13 to 14 knots right now.  I have moved toward the Douvres Roches to try and make the most of the current and hope it will pay off in the long run."

Nicolas Lunven (Generali) – 4th on the 11:00 position report
"Not doing too badly but it is a bit complex in terms of the weather forecasts: the wind is oscillating a bit, which was not what was forecast...we were due to reach pretty much the whole way to Guernsey...but I would say it is more a matter of zigzagging.  I am with the leaders, but not on the offensive, we would say I am on the defensive.  It is not be best of situations to be in, but the conditions are pretty nice and I am not feeling all that bad; workingon possible solutions.  What is annoying me most is the seaweed, every 5 minutes you have to get into the water to get rid of them.  They are all over the place..."

Frédéric Rivet (Vendée 1) at 11:00 was lying in 32nd place
"I managed to catch up a bit just after Barfleur, but the passage of La Hague was not all that good: having caught up with the leaders I got stuck with lots of seaweed and then lost further places.  As I did not have a great first night I have left feeding and getting rest aside.  This morning I have managed to get a bit of rest, so right now I am rearing to go.  Average speeds right now but what is going to be tough is getting to the Four area where we are likely to go close to shore tonight.  Right now I am not worrying and just getting on with it."

Isabelle Joschke (Synergie) 12th at 11:00 this morning – talks about her first 24 hours at sea
"The first night was quite complicated, not only did we have seaweed all over the place, but we also had a complex and tactical passage with the wind varying in direction.  You had to make decisions and follow them through to the end; basically it was not all that simple.  I have to always feel there is more to do and at the same time maintain good energy levels for the remainder of the race, but then I am already feeling tired!  The plan is to try and get some rest this afternoon.  Tonight it is going to be tough once more.  We are most likely going to get round the Four under spinnaker against the current so we should have much of the same, maybe even tougher than last night."

Yoann Richomme (DLBC) –in 7th place and leading the rookies
"I had a pretty good start, nearly got caught at Barfleur but managed to get out of it.  Then I dove south first just under Sark where I was nearly in the lead, but did not have much luck hitting a windless area, which reshuffled the fleet.  I am a bit further south of the main bunch and about half a mile south of Eric Peron.  My position is not all that bad, but as we do not have the wind forecasts it is hard to work out what is going to happen next.  I just do a bit at a time and try and to be ready for tonight for the passage of the Four.  There are two other rookies putting me under pressure, not least Bernard Stamm.  It is not all that bad, but I am a little stuck towards the South, but should be able to be among the top 15 on the next crossing, so all in all it is not that bad."

Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) – in 30th position on the last position report
"Conditions are pretty good and there is not much one can complain about.  It was a bit difficult last night, what with a bunch of boats heading to shore in search of the current whilst we went further out in search of the stronger breeze; it was the shore option that paid off the best.  The distance on the leaders at the morning position report is relative, there is till a long way to go.  The boats are pretty spread out around me and I can see some ahead, behind, but I suppose a bunch is still grouped together and within site.  Apart from last night, ahead we have the currents to deal with at Four and quite a bit of work ahead."

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

The 45 sailors competing on the 41st edition of La Solitaire du Figaro got off today at 14:00 under overcast skies in the bay of Le Havre with 8/9 knots of breeze from varying north-westerly direction.  Bar the two individual recalls given to overeager rookies, Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO/TEAM) and Louis Maurice Tannyeres (St. Ericsson) the race got off to a clean start.  Eric Peron (Massif 2009), warded off some stiff competition to reach the offset mark some thirty minutes into racing in the lead and continued to ward off attempts by Frederic Duthil (BBox) and Adrien Hardy (AGIR) to grab the coveted Radio France mark lead.

The fleet now face their first night at sea with wind predicted to rise gradually overnight to up to 20 knots from the North, Northwest on the approach to the Cotentin and Barfleur headlands.  The sailors now face multiple difficulties, but one in particular that all unanimously complained of before the start is the seaweed.  “It can stop the boat and even modify your course, especially at night when you don’t see it and you could be sleeping… you can well sail for 20 or 30 minutes without realising and that’s a disaster. It’s a minefield for everybody and I am under the impression that I get more than the others!” Worried Eric Drouglazet (Luisina) competing for the 18th time on the race.

The first part of the leg could be considered as “inshore and very technical” marked by the crossing of the bay of Seine; the skippers will then have to sail past the Cotentin and the Raz Blanchard headlands, well known for the strength of their powerful currents. Aurigny Island must be left to starboard, at the passage of the cape of the Hague, the sailors then head South sailing through the Channel Islands. Guernsey and Herm are official gates, which means that the fleet have to either sail through the narrow passage called the Great Russel on a direct route, or sail a more Southerly course depending on the turning tide times.  This first stage requires careful navigation and strategy to be well positioned for the second stretch along to Brittany headland.

The course between the Four channel and the Raz de Sein is yet another difficult and technical area that will remind the trailing skippers that nothing is yet decided with so many new obstacles to face. The Triagoz isles, île de Batz, île Vierge, Four lighthouse, Molène archipelago, Saint-Mathieu point, the legendary île Tévennec, île de Sein, passage of the Raz de Sein... there will be so many key passages to approach and each requires careful negotiation.  Once these initial 90 miles have been covered, the sailors will head south on the run to Gijón.

Pietro D'Ali (I.NOVA 3) from Italy reached the Radio France buoy in 21st place whilst Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO/TEAM) from Portugal managed to climb up to 31st place after the upset start and Jonny Malbon (Artemis) from the UK reached in 41st place; but it is early days with a further 511 miles to go to the finish in Asturias.

The stage is set in the Bay of SeineThe 45 sailors competing on the 41st edition of La Solitaire du Figaro got off today at 14:00 under overcast skies in the bay of Le Havre with 8/9 knots of breeze from varying north-westerly direction.  

Bar the two individual recalls given to overeager rookies, Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO/TEAM) and Louis Maurice Tannyeres (St. Ericsson) the race got off to a clean start.  Eric Peron (Massif 2009), warded off some stiff competition to reach the offset mark some thirty minutes into racing in the lead and continued to ward off attempts by Frederic Duthil (BBox) and Adrien Hardy (AGIR) to grab the coveted Radio France mark lead.The fleet now face their first night at sea with wind predicted to rise gradually overnight to up to 20 knots from the North, Northwest on the approach to the Cotentin and Barfleur headlands.  

The sailors now face multiple difficulties, but one in particular that all unanimously complained of before the start is the seaweed. “It can stop the boat and even modify your course, especially at night when you don’t see it and you could be sleeping… you can well sail for 20 or 30 minutes without realising and that’s a disaster. It’s a minefield for everybody and I am under the impression that I get more than the others!” Worried Eric Drouglazet (Luisina) competing for the 18th time on the race. The first part of the leg could be considered as “inshore and very technical” marked by the crossing of the bay of Seine; the skippers will then have to sail past the Cotentin and the Raz Blanchard headlands, well known for the strength of their powerful currents. Aurigny Island must be left to starboard, at the passage of the cape of the Hague, the sailors then head South sailing through the Channel Islands. Guernsey and Herm are official gates, which means that the fleet have to either sail through the narrow passage called the Great Russel on a direct route, or sail a more Southerly course depending on the turning tide times.  

This first stage requires careful navigation and strategy to be well positioned for the second stretch along to Brittany headland.The course between the Four channel and the Raz de Sein is yet another difficult and technical area that will remind the trailing skippers that nothing is yet decided with so many new obstacles to face. The Triagoz isles, île de Batz, île Vierge, Four lighthouse, Molène archipelago, Saint-Mathieu point, the legendary île Tévennec, île de Sein, passage of the Raz de Sein... there will be so many key passages to approach and each requires careful negotiation.  

Once these initial 90 miles have been covered, the sailors will head south on the run to Gijón.Pietro D'Ali (I.NOVA 3) from Italy reached the Radio France buoy in 21st place whilst Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO/TEAM) from Portugal managed to climb up to 31st place after the upset start and Jonny Malbon (Artemis) from the UK reached in 41st place; but it is early days with a further 511 miles to go to the finish in Asturias.

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Published in Figaro

A spectacular welcome greeted the crews of the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race as they arrived back in Hull at the end of their 35,000-mile circumnavigation. For the non-professional crew onboard the ten ocean racing yachts, the return to Hull Marina marks the end of a challenge of a lifetime as they battled the elements in search of victory and the title of Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race champions.

Tens of thousands of people lined the banks of the Humber and the quayside of Hull Marina to welcome home the crews after a gruelling ten-month challenge that has seen them take on the world's largest and most formidable oceans, endured violent storms and frustrating calms, extreme heat and bone-numbing cold, unstintingly come to the aid of their fellow competitors in times of need and, all the while, raced ferociously to win.

Cork_Clipper_002

Steve Conlon (left) of the Irish Marine Federation welcomed the Irish entry Cork back to Hull at the weekend with Clipper Race organiser Robin Knox Johnston

Crossing the finish line overnight at the end of the 14th and final stage of the Clipper 09-10 Race, the Irish entry, Cork, claimed the maximum ten points for securing their second first place of their campaign. It is an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact the team's original yacht ran aground on a reef in the Java Sea in January.

Cork's victory in Race 14 denied Hull & Humber their much coveted home port win but their second place finish did allow the 'big orange boat' to leapfrog Jamaica Lightning Bolt in the final standings to finish fourth overall. Again, a remarkable achievement for the team whose original skipper, Piers Dudin, was med-evac'd by the Japanese Coastguard in the North Pacific after his leg was broken when a huge wave washed him across the deck. Piers joined Justin Taylor, who took over as skipper, and the rest of the Hull & Humber crew on stage to great cheers and applause from the crowds.

Clipper 09-10 champions, Spirit of Australia, finished third in the final stage of the 14-race challenge, minutes ahead of Cape Breton Island, whose performance guaranteed them a place on the final podium. The Canadian team finish third overall, just 1.3 points behind Team Finland.

The ten yachts raced up the Humber in the presentational John Harrison Race, commemorating the man who, in the 18th Century, revolutionised the age of sail by inventing the marine chronometer, a device enabling sailors to accurately plot their longitudinal position. Hull & Humber wowed the crowds with a win while Spirit of Australia flew their spinnaker to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators.

Brendan Hall, skipper of the victorious Spirit of Australia team, said, "Finishing in first place feels unbelievable. That was the seminal moment of my sailing career. All the hard work over the past two years and all the hard work of the team over the past ten months is finally recognised in public by everybody. A big thanks to our fantastic peers on the other boats, the people of the City of Hull and all our loved ones here on the pontoon. It's absolutely fantastic and one of the best moments of my life!"

The warmth of the welcome the home team received was overwhelming, according to Hull & Humber's skipper, Justin Taylor. "It's a great feeling. I can't believe it, all these people... it's phenomenal. I'm a little bit overcome with emotion; I don't really know what to make of it, to be honest," he said.

"The crew accepted me and they really pulled together and showed some real grit and I think that's reflected in the results that they achieved after I took over. It's down to them really – I gave them a bit of encouragement and they did the rest. The crew are elated. It's wonderful to be back and I think they're feeling the same way, a bit overcome by the reception we've received here."

The Parachute Regiment's Freefall Display Team, the Red Devils, dropped in as the yachts finished the John Harrison Race and once the yachts had entered the marina the Royal Navy's helicopter display team, the Black Cats, showed their flying prowess.

On stage the teams were called up one by one to be saluted by their supporters, California, in tenth were first up, followed by Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, Cork, Qingdao, Uniquely Singapore and Jamaica Lightning Bolt in fifth place.

Each Clipper yacht is entered by a city, region or country and sponsors use the event to showcase themselves to the world.

Terry Hodgkinson Chairman of Yorkshire Forward which sponsors Hull & Humber and is responsible for bringing the Clipper Race to the Humber, said, "We're here to celebrate these crews' achievements and celebrate this wonderful city and the wider region. They've all done a fantastic job of getting the boats back safely. Clipper has done a wonderful job raising the profile of this area both nationally and internationally and bringing visitors to this fantastic region."

Clipper Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world, said, "We have had fantastic support from the people of this region for this race. I'd like to mention Yorkshire Forward, Welcome to Yorkshire and of course the people of the City of Hull. It's been fantastic, the way you've supported this race right from the start has been heart warming and we're very grateful to you."

Sir Robin had a message for the crews waiting next to the stage. He said, "You've achieved your ambition. You have sailed the oceans of the world, you have seen more of the sea than most people do and you have come through it all. You've come back very experienced sailors and you've achieved something very special in your lives and I'm very, very proud of you.

"I hope you go off now and continue sailing, take some of what you've learned the way you work as a team, back into your lives. Do you remember what I said at the beginning? I want to hear you say, 'That's the best thing I've done with my life' – and then I want to hear you say, 'So far,' because then I know we have widened your horizons."

Doctors, students, teachers, lawyers, engineers and a taxi driver are among the crew members who have succeeded in their challenge. On board each of the ten internationally-backed yachts is just one professional, the skipper, whose role it is to lead the team to victory. The crew members were all amateurs, nearly forty percent of whom had no sailing experience when they embarked on their Clipper Training, before setting off on this adventure ten months ago.

For every crew member this final race is a poignant moment. Sailing around the world is a considerable achievement – more people have climbed Mount Everest than have raced yachts around the world. The fleet's arrival in Hull Marina this afternoon is the climax of this once in a lifetime adventure.

To date more than 2,000 people have become ocean racers by taking part in the Clipper Race and, of these, more than 300 have achieved the rare accolade of becoming a circumnavigator by racing around the world under sail. Eighty-two new circumnavigators have joined the ranks of this exclusive club following the fleet's arrival in Hull today.

FINAL POSITIONS

The final result of the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race is:

1 Spirit of Australia 128 points
2 Team Finland 105.3 points
3 Cape Breton Island 104 points
4 Hull & Humber 98 points
5 Jamaica Lightning Bolt 98 points
6 Uniquely Singapore 76 points
7 Qingdao 74 points
8 Cork 56.8 points
9 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 53 points
10 California 42 points

Published in Clipper Race
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With just 550-miles in which to prove themselves in the short sprintrace to Ijmuiden in The Netherlands, Race 13 promises to be an exciting edge of the seat battle between the ten Clipper teams. The Cork team is now back into the old routine of trying their best to keep their heavier Challenge 67 in touch with the rest of the fleet. Still in with achance of getting an overall podium position as they arrive back intheir home port on 17 July, Hull & Humber has taken one step closer totheir goal by managing to take an early lead. In his report to the race office this morning, the team's skipper, Justin Taylor, explains why hebelieves they have managed to edge ahead.

"We were going to be early for the start so I luffed the boat up head towind to slow right down and, although we managed to hold it for quiteawhile, we inadvertently tacked the yacht and had to start on port tack- heading straight for the rocks at Weaver's Point. Once at full speedwe tacked the yacht on to starboard and crossed the line, not too farbehind the first three yachts.  However, we did end up as the windwardyacht with all the advantages this brings and we soon found ourselves in the lead.
"After an early headsail change down to the Yankee 2, we reached thefirst mark of the course in fourth but there was only the width of acigarette paper between us all. All the other yachts were flying theirbig Yankee 1s and our smaller sail plan seemed to pay off as we pulledaway from the fleet. An early reef to the main only seemed to increaseour speed and pointing ability. The crew have been great at adding smallgains to small gains and we now find ourselves approximately three milesahead of the nearest yacht. 
"Unfortunately, we will be rounding Land's End on a foul tide and how wenegotiate that will either see our lead increase or diminish."  
Although the Irish coastline has now disappeared over the horizon, fondmemories of their recent stopover in Kinsale and Cork will remain with all the teams, none more so than with the crew of the local entry. 
"What an amazing reception we received in both Kinsale and the City of Cork, a huge thank you to all for making us feel so welcome andextending us such enjoyable hospitality," says Cork's skipper HannahJenner. "The crew are now getting back into life aboard - life at anangle, which is not something we have experienced in a while, at leastnot sober anyway!  We are making good speeds towards Lands End at themoment which we hope to round in the morning and back into the tacticalwaters of the English Channel."
Having enjoyed the pursuit race format across the Atlantic, the Cork team is now back into the old routine of trying their best to keep their heavier Challenge 67 in touch with the rest of the fleet. "Let's hopethe forecast for light winds along the south coast of the UK is wrong!"says Hannah, knowing full well from their recent Atlantic leg that Cork performs best in stronger conditions. 
The short race course through the English Channel means that all thecrews will have to keep on their toes - there will be no time to recoverfrom mistakes and sail damage is something they can ill afford. With somany boats in close proximity and the competition fierce it's easy tosee how mistakes could be made. 
California's skipper, Pete Rollason, says, "Since our departureyesterday evening, the racing has been very tight, as you would expect,and as we approach the Scilly Isles we have eight other boats in sightof us. The crew have been working incredibly hard in some lively weatherconditions to pull us up to third or fourth place which will set us upnicely for the entrance to the English Channel and hopefully a nicesunshine filled run down these familiar waters."
With Clipper's UK training base located in Gosport on the south coast,the waters of the English Channel are well-known to all the teams and itwon't be long before the familiar coastline comes into sight as theyround the southern tip of Cornwall.
"As dawn breaks now we find ourselves back in UK waters with theexciting prospect of glimpsing the green and pleasant land soon afterbreakfast," says Qingdao's skipper, Chris Stanmore-Major. "It is odd tobe back in an area that is so familiar to many of us after circling theglobe these past ten months - I could barely believe my ears when Iheard Falmouth Coastguard providing the weather update. Land's End andthe turn into the English Channel is our immediate goal and we feel wellplaced to make a good showing in this race. Can we beat our short racecurse?  I assure you there are 16 people out here trying very hard to."
Meanwhile, on board Uniquely Singapore there is also a crew tryingequally hard - especially as there are only two points separating theteam from their Asian rivals on the overall leaderboard. 
Skipper, Jim Dobie, says, "Straight into it and what a night with asteady Force 6 or so - good boat speed but a little unusual as its beena while since we have sailed upwind. It was with very sad hearts as weleft Cork and Kinsale as the crew had had such a fantastic time with thegreat food, the hospitality and of course the partying. But we are nowfirmly focussed on the rest of the race and gain as many points as wecan. We're currently in sixth place with Qingdao just behind us and Hull& Humber still beatable - it makes these last two races as important asever."

Published in Clipper Race

After a thrilling week of festivities the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Fleet has left Cork to begin the final leg of the race. The Clipper Fleet left Port of Cork City Marina in a Parade of Sail at 13.30 today with a Clipper Fleet Departure Ceremony with The Band of the 1st Southern Brigade and Lord Mayor Cllr Michael O'Connell presiding over the farewell proceedings.

At the ceremony he said "We would like to say thanks to our Cork Yacht and Skipper Hannah Jenner- they have given us enormous pride since they arrived here and over the last couple of months as well. We wish them very well now on their voyage over to Holland over the next few days. And I want to thank everybody for coming down here today for giving such a massive send off".

It has been a hugely successful week for the Cork Clipper Festival which saw official attendance figures reaching 25,000 on Wednesday and 20,000 visitors on Thursday. Friday's Festival Finale was an appropriate fanfare farewell which saw Cork's own global internet sensation Crystal Swing entertain a packed crowd at the main stage at the Race Village before The Walls closed the curtain on an amazing week of live music entertainment.

Listen to Cork Skipper Hannah Jenner on our special Cork Podcast HERE

Published in Clipper Race
Page 24 of 26

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