Displaying items by tag: Armel Le Cleac'h
Two Irish skippers are among the 71 'pre-entries', including 24 rookies, for the La Solitaire du Figaro race.
Paul O'Riain and Mick Liddy, both from Dublin, will race back into their home port on the only foreign leg of the race course when it calls her in this August.
An increasing number of non-French sailors and some big names in offshore racing, the Figaro, promises to deliver exceptional racing for the 42nd edition of the race over the 1,695 mile-course.
The return of past winners
Confident with last year's victory, including three out of four leg wins, Armel Le Cléac'h returns to defend his title once more. Following a very good 2010 season, the French skipper returns with the intent of equaling the record held by some of his predecessors, Philippe Poupon, Jean Le Cam and Michel Desjoyeaux, to make it a hat trick by winning the Figaro circuit's crowning event. "The Solitaire is an interesting race in sporting terms. To date, there are two of us who could make the hat trick in 2010, Nico (Troussel) and myself. If I am at the start this year, my goal is to do as well as in 2010! " Said Armel Le Cléac'h.
Three winners of previous editions will be at the start: Eric Drouglazet (winner in 2001), Jérémie Beyou (winner in 2005), and Nicolas Lunven (winner in 2009). There are many other contenders aiming for the top spot on the podium, including Gildas Morvan, Thierry Chabagny, Gérald Véniard, and Frédéric Duthil...Have registered their entry alongside so many other competition regulars.
The mainstays of the Figaro Bénéteau Class, which include other candidates for the podium, have also registered entry: Eric Péron, Thomas Rouxel, Laurent Pellecuer, Jeanne Grégoire, Erwan Tabarly,Romain Attanasio, Nicolas Berenger, Marc Emig... Jean-Paul Mouren returns to compete on a record 25th edition.
The young emerging talent will be forces to be reckoned with, Adrien Hardy, winner of the third leg last year, Fabien Delahaye 1st rookie 2009), Paul Meilhat, Anthony Marchand (1st rookie 2010), Yoann Richomme ... No matter how many miles sailed, they know that victory is gained only after crossing the finish line, and fully intend to apply the lessons learned in their previous editions.
Record: 24 rookies in the running
This year is also marked by an absolute record number of rookie entries; 24 pre-entries with some impressive CVs, who will present serious competition for the old hands at the event. Some of the best skippers in the Mini class, such as Xavier Macaire, Charlie Dalin, David Sineau and Luce Molinier will compete for the first time in La Solitaire du Figaro. Other very promising young skippers are also on the list, such as Alexis Littoz-Baritel, 2008 Match Racing French Champion, Morgan Lagravière with a background in Olympic 49er racing and Camille Square from the F18. Each will want to demonstrate their full potential along each of the 4 legs that lie ahead of them this Summer.
La Solitaire du Figaro attracts an increasing number of international competitor's. No less than 5 nationalities will be represented on the event this summer. From Ireland, Paul O'Riain and Mick Liddy will race at home on the only foreign leg of the race course (Dún Laoghaire near Dublin). There will be many English skippers this year: Conrad Humphreys, accustomed to racing on the most prestigious ocean races, will be participating in his first Solitaire du Figaro. Nigel King is back for the third time. One rookie will be selected among the 5 from the Grande Motte Mediterranean Training Centre: Nick Cherry, Sam Goodchild, Nick Houchin, Olivier Young, Simon Hiscocks, double World Champion 49er, and Phil Sharp, who won the Route du Rhum 2006 in Class 40, to step forward to compete on the Figaro. The Portuguese solo sailor, Francisco Lobato, and the Franco-German Isabelle Joschke also return to race.
"There will be fierce competition..."
Race director Jacques Caraës considers that, "There will be fierce competition... on this 42nd edition of La Solitaire du Figaro. Eric Bompard Cashmere, the new main partner, could not hope for a more impressive line-up of skippers: four former winners of the event will be competing, two dozen contenders for podium places, 24 rookies, a sign of prosperity in this great classic of the summer season, especially with strong participation of foreign entries. Five nations will be represented, including the particularly competitive British-American. They will certainly have to reckon with the talented Portuguese Francisco Lobato, strengthened with the experience gained last season. There will be fierce competition...."
At six months from the start, given the upcoming programme and potential of the candidates, the pressure is already starting to mount. As every year, the competition looks particularly intense, and the entertainment captivating - a memorable experience for competitors as well as for those who will follow this 42nd edition closely.
Village opens: Saturday 23rd July
Eric Bompard prologue: Friday 29th July
Start of the 1st leg: Sunday 31st July
CAEN (320 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Tuesday 2nd August
Start of the 2nd leg: Sunday 7th August
DÚN LAOGHAIRE (470 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 10th August
Start of the 3rd leg: Sunday 14th August
LES SABLES D'OLONNE (475 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 17th August
Start of the 4th leg: Sunday 21st August
DIEPPE (430 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 24th August
Closing regatta: Sunday 28th August
Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
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..."
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