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60% of the Figaro Fleet Finish Within 60 Minutes

4th August 2011
60% of the Figaro Fleet Finish Within 60 Minutes

Today in Caen, the day after the finish of the first light and demanding leg of La Solitaire du Figaro it it time to review the race standings; there is plenty of hope as 60% of the fleet remain within 60 minutes of the leader. Fabien Delahaye wins at home, but there is still opportunities for the competition to make up on the lost time.  The prospects are slightly less bright for the last 13 competitors who are more than 2 hours and 45 minutes behind the leader on an event where the cumulative time over the course of four legs. The Jury have reviewed 11 cases and applied time penalties to seven competitors.

The races comes to Dun Laoghaire on August 12th where the National Yacht Club is planning a 'Festival des Bateaux' in the harbour for four days.

"The first night after the finish of a leg is always the most intense.  You have such a deep sleep.  It is like ecstasy" exclaimed a fresh faced Isabelle Joshke (Galettes St. Michel) this morning in the busy port of Caen.  There is little time to mull over the results with a further three legs to go.  Sixty percent of the fleet is within a hour of the leader, the psychological self imposed barrier that many of the sailors set themselves. From first to ninth placed Nicolas Lunven, who toyed with the lead for most of the race, there are just 17 minutes and 46 seconds.  Not until 18th placed Romain Attanasio (Saveól) do we see the time deficit build to 30 minutes.   Incredibly seven of the ten newcomers to the race are within the top thirty and 60 minutes from the leader.  Two sailors of note that are lagging behind could be Eric Peron (Macif 2009) who finishes 34th and 1 hour and 26 minutes from the leader and in particular Francisco Lobato (ROFF), in 36th, 3 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds behind.  Lobato, who suffered a similar bad start to the season last year to go on and get a sixth place on the second leg, is still considered to be one to watch for by his fellow competitors.  Then towards the tail end of the fleet there is disappointment for some, particularly Yoann Richomme (DLBC), Marc Emig (Ensemble autour du monde) and Sam Goodchild (Artemis).

Eleven complaints have been filed and have being processed by the Jury of the 42nd Solitaire du Figaro this afternoon.  The protests generally relate to broken seals, the loss of the light anchor not rounding correctly certain course marks.  Seven of the eleven penalised sailors have been given a time penalty.  FrédéricDuthil (Sepalumic) get a one hour penalty to his overall race time for not respecting the Cussy mark.  Jean-Paul Mouren (SNEF) is also given an hour penalty for not crossing the finish line properly.  The three boats with broken propellor shaft seals have been given the minimum penalty time of 20 minutes, as it was deemed that no personal gain was obtained: Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence), Conrad Humphreys (DMS) and Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat) all are penalised 20 minutes.  The Race Committee protested against Marc Emig (Ensemble autour du monde) whose  position was not showing on the AIS (tracking sytem), which was believed to be unintentional.  Marc was penalised 12 minutes.  The other cases all related to the loss of light anchors and were not given time penalities: David Sineau (Britanie Cosmetics), Sébastien Picault (Kickers), Frédéric Duthil, Eric Drouglazet(Luisina).

Visit the PSP Cormoran
The French naval patrol boat, the PSP Cormorant accompanying La Solitaire du Figaro throughout the race is moored the Quai Normandy in Caen.  It is open to the public daily from 10 to 12 and from 14 to 18.

Rankings for the newbies or rookies on La Solitaire
Out of the 47 solo sailors competing on the the Figaro, ten of them are newcomers to the race.  Referred to as "rookies", these sailors have really shone out for their performance on the first leg from Perros-Guirec to Caen.  Xavier Macaire (Starter Active Bridge) leads the rookie standings with his 5th place with the British sailor, Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence), finishing 7th within a minute of the first "rookie".  The talent amongst the rookie fleet is evident with seven of the ten being within 43 minutes of each other.  It is important to note that that Alexis Littoz-Baritel (SavoieMont-Blanc) won the prologue in Perros-Guirec and Sam Goodchild (Artemis) rounded in the seventh windward mark before exploding his spinnaker on the first crossing of the Channel.

Quotes from the skippers in Caen:

Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire) 14th in Caen
"The results of this first leg is that I have not sailed very well, but I am not going to make a mountain out of it.  I was not really in the right rhythm, not positioned well on the water throughout.  And I have not got an explanation for it.  It is likely I was not asking myself the right questions.  In fact on the water, you try to go fast and then you ask yourself questions all the time! I kept playing out all possible scenarios for up to 20 miles later when really you just have to take a mile at a time.  I am not too disappointed and have come out ok at the end."

Isabelle Joschke (Galettes St Michel), 15th in Caen
"When it comes down to the time differences, I think that you should never worry about it unless you have a race like the one in 2008 when the first to finish managed to get a 5 or 6 hours lead on everyone.  I remember last year, the last leg really scared everyone because the weather just really shook up the fleet and there were loads of changes.  Everything can change on the last leg.  I keep this in mind that.  It is always like that on the Figaro!"

Sat Goodchild (Artemis), 45th to finish in Caen
"I am pretty devastated.  I had a good start, but three hours later, I tore my big spinnaker in half.  I had only the small spinnaker so really struggled to get the boat speed.  After that it was a matter of limiting the damage to not finish too far behind.  I am going to just have to approach each individual leg for the three to come and learn as much as I can.  Today I am getting the spinnaker mended, learn for the next time and take a step at a time for the next one."

Laurent Pellecuer (Atelier d'Architecture Jean-Pierre Monnier), eighth in the overall ranking
"I spent the whole race trying to catch up right from the start. I managed to pick off the boats one by one, two by two, five by five, also making my own mistakes in the process. When the wind stopped and the current was really strong, I got stuck and came to a complete standstill, but did not anchor.  Up until that point I had been up in the 10.  When the wind is light, in fact, the cards are reshuffled and anything can happen.  In light winds and when you are behind you need nerves of steel to fight your way back up.  You have to just believe in yourself and fight it out to the end."

Paul Meilhat (Macif 2011), 13th in the provisional overall ranking
"If I take the leg as a whole I did so well and managed to go quite fast. I'm pretty happy. I have not made too many mistakes and was maybe a little bit too conservative having anchored close to the Raz Blanchard. I lost a lot of time being at anchor, which made me lose touch with the leaders. The main thing is that there is not too much time difference at the end of the leg. This is a good leg that gives confidence for the future. It's true that there were some key point of passages, which almost meant the race started all over again. It's a bit annoying when you fight for 48 hours to try and get ahead and then it all bunches up again from behind and pretty much sets a new start.  But it is very often like that in this race. It was a nice leg, we had some sun on the approach to the Needles and then the spinnaker run...it was a great leg."

Nicolas Lunven (Generali), ninth on the first leg
"Together with Thomas Rouxel and Jérémie Beyou,  we had a wonderful trio running from the start of the race. Unfortunately, the this trio broke disappeared before the finish and none of us are in the top three at the finish!  The last night at sea in the Channel, with no wind, a lot of current, some people having to ancho (including me), the fleet scattered around .... I finish ninth and within 17 minutes of the leader. I still had a great leg. Personally, I am shattered, even when I anchored, which was the first time I have ever done that in a Figaro, I was tired.  It is annoying to have spent 30 hours fighting for a top 3 slot and then loose it all at the end...But I am not the first person this has happened to and certainly not going to be the last."

Published in Figaro
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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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