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#Solo - French sailor Christophe Maupaté aims to follow in the wake of Ireland's own Enda O'Coineen in his attempt to be the first person to cross the Atlantic solo from Bordeaux to New York by RIB.

The Figaro veteran will set off on 16 July 2016 from Bordeaux heading north, via the Celtic and Irish Seas – including a stop-over in Dun Laoghaire – on an epic voyage that will see him trace a semi-circle around the North Atlantic.

That route takes Maupaté via the Orkneys, Iceland and the southern tip of Greenland to Canada's Maritimes provinces and onward to New York to coincide with a commemorative voyage by a replica of historic French general Lafayette's ship Hermione.

And he'll be doing it all single-handedly in a 7.5m RIB, a custom French-built Zeppelin, equipped with a Suzuki four-stroke outboard motor and Garmin navigation and communication devices.

The Atlantic has been crossed by RIB several times before, most notably by TV adventurer Bear Grylls and team in 2003 from Canada to Scotland, and more recently by the Brown brothers from Florida to London in 2009.

But the closest anyone's come to a solo RIB crossing was Enda O'Coineen, when he helmed the 5.5m Zodiac RIB Kilcullen III from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Dunmore East in the mid 1980s – a voyage recounted in his book The Unsinkable Kilcullen.

There is no Guinness World Record for O'Coineen's feat, so Maupaté aims to be the first into the books with his own incredible expedition of some 4,460 nautical miles.

More details can be found on the official Bordeaux -> New York in Solitare website HERE.

Published in Solo Sailing

#fullrish – Since my last blog update quite a lot has happened and as a result things have changed for my sailing campaign writes Figaro solo sailor David Kenefick.

As I said, after the Figaro I was tired and I needed to reflect on a lot of things. I needed some time to recover and reflect on the last 18 months of my life, which frankly has been a whirlwind. And luckily I have been able to do just that.

It was wonderful to come home after the Figaro in July and see so many friends and familiar faces and take time away from the campaign. As I set about recovering which, in fact took me about 4-5 weeks I began thinking about the future. It quickly became apparent there were two options: either keep sailing or finish my College course which I left over 2 years ago to take up the 'Full Irish' project.

The sailing option was made of mainly two different options. One of these was the possibility of trying to put together a 2016 Vendée Globe project. The Vendée Globe is a single-handed non-stop around the world race in IMOCA 60 sailing boats. It is the toughest sailing race on this planet and for sure is one of the toughest challenges known to man.

I thought about this project for a long time and even had a few meetings with people about it. It was then up to me to decide if I wanted to put myself forward and tell the world my crazy plans to have the first ever Irish boat in the Vendée Globe. The complexity of a project like this is not simple, while I took time to think there were a number of things running through my mind. Have I enough experience? Would I ever find the money that I needed? Would I be able to do a good job?

As the time came to try to put my young head on old shoulders I felt I wouldn't be able to find the correct ingredients to put a solid and safe campaign together along with the thought that sailing will always be there and there is a business degree to be finished. So it was back to college.

Today was my 10th day of college lectures the day it really hit home how much I'm going to miss the Figaro and how lucky I was to do two years in this tough and amazing fleet. One thing is for sure I've got more hunger than ever to do the Figaro race again but for now sailing is on hold.

I would like to thank all my sponsors and everyone who has helped me. A particular mention goes to Marcus Hutchison who introduced me to the Figaro and helped me so much.

Published in Figaro
Tagged under

#lasolitaire2014 – Ireland's David Kenefick is well placed in the 45th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire got underway yesterday at noon after the fleet had been moored for several hours off Deauville. Above vid has two nice shots of David in the think of it. Anthony Marchand (Ovimpex Secours Populaire) was first around the two inshore marks followed by Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux) and David Kenefick (Full Irish) - a great start by the young Irishman who celebrates his 23rd birthday today.

The race didn't get off to the best start for two of the pre-race favourites. Yann Elies (Groupe Queguiner) and Charlie Dalin (Normandy Elite Team) were both recalled after being over the start line as were British sailors, Nick Cherry (Redshift) and Ed Hill (Macmillan Cancer Support). Yann, who is chasing a third consecutive Solitaire win was in last place as the fleet rounded the windward buoy.

In the rookie class, Artemis Offshore Academy member, Rich Mason (Artemis 77) made the best of the inshore course, rounding both marks in 12th place.

The latest weather briefings suggest the sailors are going to hit a transition in the wind when they reach the English coast, particularly between the Owers mark off the Isle of Wight and Start Point. Big splits in the fleet may occur at this point.

Stage one: Deauville to Plymouth, 484 nm.

Top Ten General Rankings as of 15:30BST Sunday (38 total skippers)

1. Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux)
2. Anthony Marchand (Ovimpex)
3. Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth)
4. Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012)
5. Corentin Horeau (Bretagne - Credit Mutuel Performance
6. David Kenefick (Full Irish)
7. Alexis Loison (Groupe Fiva)
8. Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement)
9. Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq)
10 Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert)

At press time, only 2.36 miles separated the entire fleet.

Published in Figaro

#fullirsh – David Kenefick finished the Solo Concarneau in 22nd place just before six pm yesterday evening.

After a valuable two days at sea, where the Royal Cork skipper was as high as 15th in the 32–boat fleet at the midway stage, the conclusion from the 'Full Irish' campaign is that the 340–mile offshore has been 'a great training race with a bit of everything in it'. There was a strong wind upwinds in the dark, headlands, short tacking, windy reaching, downwind VMG, transitions from gradient to sea breeze and back.

Saturday morning saw the Figaro fleet of the Solo Concarneau ahead of schedule as the last long leg North from Ile d'Yeu turns out to be a fairly fast two-sail reach. Kenefick rounded the Ile d'Yeu in the small hours and had been hanging in with some of his Lorient-based training partners on the way North.

You can see the results here.

Published in Figaro

#figaro – The French La Solitaire du Figaro race will visit Plymouth for the first time in June dashing hopes that the race might return to Ireland.

In spite of an innovative new course including a departure from Bordeaux and a Portuguese stage there will be no Irish leg of the 45th edition of the race and instead the race calls to Britain for the first time in its history.

This year Irish youngster David Kenefick won the Rookie of the year prize and there were hopes that his intended continuation in the circuit might bring the race to Ireland as it previously did in 2012.

The 2,014-mile race is one of the main training grounds for the Vendee Globe race, and this will be the first time it has included a British leg.

Sutton Harbour will host some 45 of the world's top sailors, including local sailor Sam Goodchild. The 24-year-old achieved the best British result since 1975, finishing in 11th place this year.

Around 45 sailors, all on identical 33ft boats will arrive in Sutton Harbour at the end of Leg 1 on Wednesday, June 11.

Spectators will see close-fought inshore racing in Plymouth Sound before the fleets departs on its second leg on Saturday, June 14.

The stopovers were announced at the official Solitaire launch in Paris on Thursday. 

More than 30,000 visitors are expected to be lured to Plymouth next summer when the city hosts one of sailing's grand prix events.

Published in Figaro

#fullrish – This time last year I got my hands on the boat I was going to use for the next 12 months. I had wanted to try singlehanded offshore sailing since I could remember and at the ripe old age of 21 all my stars aligned and with help from many sources here I was. Port La Foret, the home of the Figaro class and most of the French offshore champions surrounded me. My boat was freshly launched with a bit of Irish identity plastered on to it. I knew I knew nothing at all but with my team manager Marcus Hutchinson, himself a four year veteran of the discipline, I took my first steps out into the bay with the boat and learnt the basics of how to hoist and drop a big mainsail on your own, who to hoist and retrieve the spinnaker on your own, how to gybe, tack, anticipate the actions required and basically how to make sure things are done in the right order so as to not exhaust myself. Very early on in the piece Marcus explained to me that short handed sailing was just one big exercise in energy management, whether it was ashore with boat preparation and looking after the body, or afloat in competition, knowing when to be a coiled spring and when to move at a slightly more reserved pace.

Twelve months later and where has the time gone. Since those initial ten days with Marcus I took the boat on a truck to the South of France and spent five months training, refining and learning whilst racing other Figaros in La Grande Motte. I met other sailors both French and non-French. The Artemis Offshore Academy boys were down there two. We have become great friends.

My first big event was in March this year. I learnt some difficult lessons. In the first offshore on a cold and windy leg I destroyed my mainsail, through no fault of my own. But the lesson was that it was my fault because there is no one to blame but the man in charge and that is me. During one of the inshore races I jagged the right side of the beat and rounded the top mark first. I thought I had won the world cup, but of course more experienced sailors got past me before the finish. I did it again in the last offshore leg of that event only to suffer terribly from tiredness and poor decision making to finish where I belonged, down the pan. But if I had won out of the bag I would never have learnt.

We moved the whole show to the Atlantic in April and two events followed, the Solo Arrimer and the Solo Concarneau in May. Lots of boats, suddenly the fleet was complete with all the really good guys. The first event was a 300-mile race up and down the French West coast. It started out really light in a huge sea. I started well and tacked to the right of the course with my all time hero – Michel Desjoyeaux. The short term made us look like the champion that he already was, but then the wind shifted back and we were both nearly a mile behind at the first windward mark. I then had to sail around the course in cold, wet, dark and at times up to 40 knot winds, to complete the course. A hard lesson to learn. Don't follow your hero, because there are champions everywhere on this course and I am not one of them. Mich of course pulled back all the way to the top ten, I limped home with just a couple of boats behind me, exhausted, dismayed and not really understanding what had happened! But that is where my coaching crew were there for. Until you do it you don't know. My coaches Nico Berenger and Marcus sat me and the other Artemis Offshore Academy lads down and we went through the race step by step. What were the key moments, what had the leaders done, why had they done it, what was the timing, when had they rested, how much had they eaten, how had it looked. There were always so many things to learn it was always overwhelming and it would have been easy to get disheartened but we just concentrated on what each race's three most important lessons were, across the whole group, and then applied them to our own preparation for the next race.

The pace kept getting quicker. Logistically it got harder and more demanding as we worked our way towards the start of the main race of the year the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro. We did as much as we could in the time available, always conscious that it would be easy to burn out early in the season and not get the most out of the opportunity in the big race.

The start of the Solitaire du Figaro was in Bordeaux, 70 miles up a very tidal river estuary. Logistically extremely complicated. Our little team of boats now numbered six and we pooled resources for shore side functions such as accommodation, shore crew and sail purchasing. We couldn't have done it any other way. The economies of scale made it financially possible to compete. But I hadn't appreciated the slog of the race week build-up. Right Downtown in a big city, huge amounts of media and public engagements for all skippers, weather and navigation to prepare and then all the boat and food considerations too. Again our shore team just removed everything from us allowing us to all concentrate on what would make our lives easiest, allowing us to have big siestas in the lead up so that our bodies were already into a disrupted sleep pattern before we started.

Just before the start sponsorship was secured which was a great help but came with the added complication of fulfillment. The most significant of these sponsors was the Comptoir Irlandais, a network of 50 shops scattered across France that sell Irish products only - from whiskeys to Barry's Tea, to woolens, to Tayto Crisps, to smoked salmon.... In a small way, the name of my boat Full Irish, had attracted them to me and I was now helping Irish exports to France by driving publicity to the shops and their products through the branding on my boat in this highly mediatized racing environment.

The start of the big race brought a huge number of guests, family and media, they all wanted a piece of me, they were all there for me. I hadn't appreciated how much it would take out of me. I was nervous for the start as the build up was huge and all I wanted to do was get going to the biggest sailing challenge of my life.

I started in the huge pack, tactically it was really complicated getting out of the river. Hundreds of spectator boats, helicopters, strong tide, a beat, shallow water, a big tactical decision early in the race... But in the back of my head I remembered my coaches' words. Just get out of the river, don't take risks, take your time and enjoy the experience, there would be 400 more miles to do things and have opportunities later on. What great advice that was. There were many other Rookies in the race. The favourite by far Simon Troel, went aground on a sandbank a couple of hours into the race and had to wait a full eleven hours before he could get off. Game over for him. I got out of the river unscathed apart from a little bump with something that wasn't on any chart!

The rest of the race to Porto, to Gijon, to Roscoff and to Dieppe, a total of 2000 miles of sleep deprevation, knocks, confusion, strong winds, light winds, fog, rain, rocks, tides, dramas and elation, I have written about already. I arrived in Dieppe at the end of June 3rd Rookie and 28th overall. I had completed the course, the youngest to do it that year – I had in fact turned 22 somewhere half way across the Bay of Biscay to shrieks of Happy Birthday to you/Bonne Aniversaire on the official race VHF Channel. Although on your own you are never alone. With 36 boats in the fleet for the most part you are always in site of at least a quarter of the fleet visually, half the fleet on AIS and just about everyone by VHF.


David Kenefick ducks a competitor in the Generali Solo. Photo: Alexis Courcoux

When I got to Dieppe I was destroyed. I had been warned about this period. I had become the fourth Irishman to complete the course over the race's 44-year history and was in a drunken haze and daze of extreme fatigue. I needed a break. I needed to reflect. I got the boat to Cowes, out of the water onto its cradle and went home to gather my thoughts. But this was the best time. Day by day I started to recover and realized I had achieved something. Worse was to come, as the days went by I realized this was the most amazing thing ever in the sailing world and the euphoria just wouldn't go away.

In the end we devised the second half of the season quickly. It was early July there were three big events left in the calendar, two of them two-handed (Fastnet and Tour of Brittany) and the last the Generali-Med which as the name suggests is in the Med.

When I was ready we started getting organized for the Fastnet Race which I sailed with Kinsale Dragon sailor Olaf Sorrensen. Then I did the Tour de Bretagne with Jeanne Gregoire, a very experienced Figaro racer, she had had more than her share of podium results over the previous few years. The goal was to really learn the Brittany coast and learn some tricks from an experienced sailor in a racing environment. Her part of the deal was to learn some English, but in reality it was another way for me to learn a bit more French.

In the background Marcus conjured up a deal for me to offset some of my costs for competing in the Med in September and as soon as I had completed the two handed race with Jeanne I was travelling South with my racing sails to prepare a borrowed boat for the Generali-Med.


David Kenefick at the helm of Full Irish in his first successful year on the Pro Circuit. Photo: Brian Carlin

There were fewer boats in this event, for obvious cost and logistical reasons. It meant that the middle of the fleet from a standard point of view was removed. So at one end we had the top 12 boats competing for the season prizes and then the rookies and locals to the Med who hadn't raced anywhere else that year. The Med is different. No tide for sure but everything else about it is different. The wind doesn't behave as we Atlantic seaboard people understand, but it is still a boat race. This event was a mix of long offshore legs, not unlike the Solitaire, and two days of inshore racing at each of the stopovers. The balance of points meant that the combined value of all inshore races, amounting to 12 in the end, was worth the same as just one of the offshore legs.

I have just finished that event in 12th place from 17 starters. I was the best 2013 Rookie in this event and combined with my Solitaire du Figaro Rookie result I am the best newcomer in 2013. There is a reason the Rookie prize is there. No one comes into this scene and performs at the top in their first year. It can't be done and I now know why. If you had asked me about it 12 months ago I wouldn't have understood its value. Today I totally do and that is why I am more than excited about next year. I have five big priorities I want to work on for next year and I want to go out and do it all again and use the knowledge and experience from this year. It's a big challenge and the lessons I'm learning will be more than valuable for my whole life be it in sailing or any other activity.

Thanks for all your support, I'll keep you posted as we go forward.

Home next week for a long rest and to start preparing next years budget for sponsorship proposals.



Published in Figaro
Tagged under

#fullirish – Royal Cork's David Kenefick is among 17 Figaro Benetau sailors in the Generali Solo 2013 left Cavalaire-sur-Mer on Sunday heading for Barcelona. A few miles after the start the race organisers announced a modification of the original route (435 miles) due to light winds over a large part of the stage. Currently the solo Irish sailor is placed 15th. Event website here.

The wind dropped in the middle of night. This morning Adrien Hardy (Recovery Act) is still ahead of Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) and Yoann Richomme (DLBC).

Since the passage of Cape Sicie at sunset, sailors nonetheless gained some miles, a little more than expected. The head of the fleet is now 140 miles distant from Barcelona. They crossed that night back and now continue on their way.. slowly pushed this morning at 5 o'clock by one knot of wind. The only good point is that with a wind shift they can now sail a direct course.

Top five at 5 AM local time:

1. Agir Recouvrement (Adrien Hardy)
2. Skipper Macif 2012 (Fabien Delahaye)
3. DLBC (Yoann Richomme)
4. Skipper Herault (Xavier Macaire)
5. Generali (Nicolas Lunven)

Generali Solo is a race in stages taking place in the Mediterranean Sea on Figaro Beneteau 2.

First stage: Cavalaire-Sur-Mer to Barcelona
Second: Barcelona to Beaulie Sur Mer (Departure September 25)
Third: Beaulieu-Sur-Mer to Sete, (Departure October 2)

Generali Solo is the final round of Solo Championship Elite de course au Large and has a coefficient of 4 in the overall standings. Provisional classification of the championship (top five)

1. DLBC, Yoann Richomme, 57 points
2. Cercle Verte, Gildas Morvan, 88
3. Skipper MACIF 2012. Fabien Delahaye, 89
4. Groupe Queguiner - Leucemie Espoir, Yann Elies, 95
5. Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance, Anthony Marchand, 103

Published in Figaro

#fullirish – Cork Figaro single–hander David Kenefick is13th overall in a 23–boat fleet in the first leg of the Tour de Bretagne ala Voile that began today in Western France. The race is a double-handed race with inshore and offshore components. Kenefick is sailing with Jeanne Gregoire, an experienced French sailor that has completed nine La Solitaire du Figaro with her best result been a fifth overall.
23 Figaro's on the start with most of the fleet from La Solitaire competing, including some past America's cup skippers, multiple past winners of the Solitaire du Figaro Olympic medalists and match racing world champions.

Published in Figaro
Tagged under

#figaro – David Kenefick finished the fourth and final leg of the 2013 Solitaire Figaro in Dieppe in the small hours of this morning. Forty-one skippers started this solo race and 2000 miles over the four legs visiting three countries. The Figaro is scored on cumulative elapsed time over all four legs. For the second year in a row the race has been won by Yann Elies. Xavier Macaire was second 25 minutes behind, and in third place was Morgan Lagraviere a further seven minutes back. David finished the race in 28th place, some 12 hours and 14 minutes behind the leader and third of the seven Rookies. This last leg was without question the hardest with strong winds for the last 36 hours seeing one complete dismasting and five other retirements.

Now in its 44th year and following Damian Foxall, Marcus Hutchinson and Paul O'Riain, 22–year–old David has become the fourth and youngest-ever Irish skipper to finish this legendary race.

Shortly after finishing in Dieppe David had the following things to say in a bleary, punch drunk state of fatigue:

On Leg 4. "This leg was really good. It had a lot that we hadn't in the previous legs. Unfortunately, I found myself struggling for speed, which I've done all month. I have crawled my way back into it. It was hard but great."

"I started crawling back into it at Ushant. We had to go rock hopping in the dark and in the mist. My laptop was not working at the time. I had to use my iPad to navigate between a few rocks. That was the scariest part of the race for me, sailing between rocks and hearing breaking water all around me, with almost zero visibility."

On gaining 10-11 places overnight on Friday. "From Wolf Rock to Needles Fairway buoy last night was pretty amazing. I set the small kite with one reef – it was crazy. I was just waiting for something to break. I knew that I'd break myself before the boat broke as so many people have told me. These boats are tough, fast and amazingly stable to sail downwind in a big breeze. I was waiting for the rig to break, but it stayed up. I hoisted at 0200 and just drove all night long. The boat was underneath the water the whole time. I've never done anything like that before, fully powered up all night long. I was terrified that I was going to lose control, and I certainly didn't trust the pilot to do a better job. But next time we got the rankings on the VHF I had gained a lot of places. Through hard work comes gain!!! The most wind I saw on this leg was 38 knots. But sometimes you couldn't see the instruments, and sometimes you didn't want to see them!!!"

On broaching and losing it. "A few times I lost control. But I just let the kicker go, bore off and she was away again. Having two rudders is a joy. It makes it so much easier to push hard safely. I was one of the first to hoist after Wolf Rock in the bunch I was with. I hoisted the moment I'd cleared the Wolf Rock and with it I gained 11 places. Coming into the Needles, we had about 30 knots but then the breeze died and re-built up to 30 knots and unfortunately I did a violent Chinese gybe."

"The strop on my boom that holds the mainsheet on snapped. I managed to gybe back, but my mainsail was lose. I knew I had to drop the kite at the same time to be in a position to safely fix the mainsheet back onto the boom. I dropped the kite but then the kite went flying back out of the hatch. Then my jib sheets came out of the blocks, no figure of eight, so I was trying to chase three sails at the same time!!!!

That was coming into the Needles. I got the two spinnaker sheets and tied those around the boom like on a Superyacht. I made up a new strop for the boom because I knew I'd need the spinnaker sheets again later. Eventually, everything was back under control."

On overall feelings about the Figaro Race. "It was an amazing leg and the whole month has been amazing. If you had said to me last year that I'd be at the finish of the Solitaire, I don't think I would have believed you."

On what's next. "Part of me is now hooked on this race but part of me is a bit frustrated. Unfortunately, the mind has a tendency to forget the hard parts. I'll wait a few weeks and see what I think about it. I am a bit upset. I thought I'd enjoy it a bit more. I have had a difficult month. The night before the start in Bordeaux we had to change the forestay as we found a crack. I'm glad we did. Two forestays have failed in this race, and three rigs have failed. I have had no technical issues at all other than wear and tear and my computer going down from time to time. But this is a sailboat and if you can't sail without a computer you shouldn't be out there. With everything that I have learnt over the last month and the experience I have gained I'd love to be starting this race tomorrow. I'm ready to be a rookie now, but I'm no longer a first timer!"

Published in Figaro

#fullrish – Well Leg 3 didn't go as well as David Kenefick would have liked. He has had a tendancy to treat 200-mile long legs like the first beat of a windward leeward and want to immediately tack to clear his air if he is in dirty air. The problem is that that usually means leaving the fleet and even compromising the side of the course that you want to be on which in a boat speed race, which the Figaro often is, means losing valuable distance and then being on the back foot for the rest of the race.

Leg 3 from Gijon to Roscoff was to be sailed in two parts, the first a 200-mile section across the bay of Biscay to round the Island of Yeu off the Vendée coast, and the second another 240 miles up the French coast through the Raz de Sein around the tip of Brittany and along to Roscoff.
The first part was sailed under a complex ridge of high pressure straddling the whole Bay and the second in the influence of the South Westerly winds to the North of the ridge and an approaching front and depression. The ridge should have been slow and tedious to cross with long periods of light and no wind with skippers watching their barometers to know whether they were to the North or South of the ridge axis. In fact it all turned out differently and the switch from SE to W winds came very quickly and with more pressure the race stayed quick all the way to the finish.
On the wrong side of the fleet David suffered and then had to hang in there knowing that there were going to be no strategic opportunities later and that it would be all about speed and staying awake to drive the boat hard in the freshening conditions. To cut a long story short David finished early on Sunday morning in Roscoff quite far down the rankings and about 6 hours behind the leg winner Morgan Lagraviere. However, other Rookies also had a tough time and one of the favourites Claire Pruvot had to retire from the leg with a broken spreader. The time penalty means that David has moved up a place to third place amongst the seven first timers, and hour and ten minutes off second place and four and a quarter hours off the lead.

The fleet has had four days in Roscoff, a fascinating new port has been built here recently and as we normally just get off the ferry and head for the motorway when passing through we have all had the chance to discover this enchanting small town and the environs. David's partner in this adventure the Comptoir Irlandais, held a drinks reception for him and their guests on Tuesday night in the race village and hopefully the relationship that is being built will lead to further adventures later this year and next. This is after all a commercial proposition and David's success and his boat's coverage here with its Comptoir Irlandais branding on it is promoting the sale of Irish products in the company's 42 shops the length and breadth of the country.

So enough of Leg 3 now its time for the fourth and final leg of this year's race. Roscoff, outside Ushant, via the Chausee de Sein, through the Chenal du Four and up to Wolf Rock, along the South Coast of England to the Needles Fairway, across to a buoy off the port of Antifer near Le Havre and then up the coast to Dieppe and the finish. Five hundred and twenty miles of coastal, cross-channel, tidal, rockhopping and weather driven racing lies ahead. The start is Thursday at 13:00 local and will be in a medium North Westerly breeze. The North Brittany coast is rocky and when the tide is against, you need to get in amongst them to find some shelter and when the tide turns find it inshore first. Outside Ushant and downwind to the navigation mark at the Western extremity of the Sein archipelago will be highly boatspeed dependent. The return North through the Chanel du Four will again be hugely dependent on the state of the tide and again the chances are that the rich will get richer as the leaders get through before the tide turns foul for the followers.

The leg North from here to the Wolf Rock off the Cornish coast is probably going to be upwind and will sort out the men and women from the boys and girls. What's more there is the chance of a tidal gate here with the east going flood tide heading up the Channel ready to whisk away the leaders and give them another advantage. The wind should be piping up strongly at this stage on Friday evening and the fleet will be set for some high speed downwind sailing overnight and into Saturday as the legendary headlands of The Lizard, Start Point, Portland Bill and Anvil Point are ticked off. The Needles Fairway buoy will be a right turn for the fleet into a freshening SSW breeze meaning a wet 100-mile jib reach slog back to the French side of the Channel and a landfall buoy off the oil tanker harbour of Antifer near Le Havre. The final 50-odd miles will again see spinnakers blossom and a high speed chase continue to the conclusion of this year's event.

There isn't much upwind sailing, there are several tidal gates, it will be fresh for at least half of the course and there wont be too many opportunities to sleep. This will be physically the toughest of the four legs of this year's race and we expect to see the leaders finishing in Dieppe in the small hours of Sunday morning. Spare a thought for them all over the next few days!!!

Published in Figaro
Page 4 of 8

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