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Weather shuffles the Figaro pack

5th August 2009
Weather shuffles the Figaro pack
Since yesterday’s light airs start at Coruna, the returning north-westerly breeze has comprehensively shuffled the pack, as the 52-boat fleet heads back across the Bay of Biscay on its way to the second leg finish at St. Gilles Croix de Vie. Having successfully side-stepped the patch of flat calm that presented the leg’s first major obstacle in its opening hours, by this afternoon (Wednesday 5th August), the skippers had ticked off the first 150 miles of their 365-mile passage. For now. the fleet remains relatively closely grouped, and in the fickle conditions each successive ranking brings numerous position changes.


Above: Leg 2 begins. Photo: Francois Bouchon et Jean-Christophe Marmara

From aboard one of the accompanying safety boats Race Director Jacques Caraes summarised the situation this morning: “The small weather front has now passed through. Some boats stayed becalmed, others benefited from bands of better breeze, particularly in the west, as in the case of Jérémie Beyou (Bernard Paoli) and Nicolas Lunven  (CGPI). The whole fleet is presently above the rhumb-line route in  anticipation of the next shift, when the wind should go into the north. Right now we have up to 12 knots of north-westerly breeze where we are, the rain has stopped, the sea is easier and there are no real big choices to make; it’s just a question of having to keep looking for every bit of speed.”


Above: Jonny Malbon (GBR) in Artemis waves goodbye as he heads offshore 

With the exception of Louis-Maurice Tannyeres (Nanni Diesel), 32 miles back from the leader after choosing to stay close to the Spanish coast overnight rather than heading directly offshore with the rest of the pack, the expected large gaps have yet to appear. Across the fleet, from north-west to south-east, and from front to back, there is little more  than 12 miles between extremes, and no less than 40 boats are within five or six miles of the leader. For now speeds are in the 7–9 knot range, and it is obvious from the boats’ tracks that the skippers are making numerous small course changes in search of every possible pocket of extra pressure.

With  such local variations the lead has changed numerous times, and there have  been some spectacular gains up the fleet. Both Beyou and Lunven left Coruna very badly placed, but have since gained more than 40 places each, with Beyou the latest to move into the top spot this afternoon, previously occupied by Laurent Pellecuer ( overnight and by Charles Caudrelier-Benac (Bostik) earlier today. British skippers Jonny Malbon (Artemis) and Nigel King (Nigel King Yachting), presently placed 41st and 35th respectively, will nevertheless be relieved to have stayed in contact with their competitors, without any deficit in boat speed, and within 5 or 6 miles of the leaders.

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro Team

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The Solitaire du Figaro, was originally called the course de l’Aurore until 1980, was created in 1970 by Jean-Louis Guillemard and Jean-Michel Barrault.

Half a decade later, the race has created some of France's top offshore sailors, and it celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new boat equipped with foils and almost 50 skippers Including novices, aficionados and six former winners.

The solo multi-stage offshore sailing race is one of the most cherished races in French sailing and one that has had Irish interest stretching back over 20 years due to the number of Irish stopovers, usually the only foreign leg of the French race.

The race has previously called to Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

In 2013 Royal Cork's David Kenefick raised the bar by becoming a top rookie sailor in the race

In 2018, for the first time Ireland will have two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who join the rookie ranks and keep the Irish tricolour flying high in France. 

The 2019 course is more Than 2,000 miles between Nantes, Kinsale (Ireland), Roscoff and Dieppe and is the longest in the race's history.


At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

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