The final 165-mile stage of the Solitaire URGO Figaro 2018 – which began last night at 1830 hrs - is envisaged as a sprint of less than 24 hours in which the 36 solo skippers will do entirely without sleep as they make the final push to prove who is King of the Bay writes W M Nixon. But with light nor’east winds and localised calms persisting, the pace has sometimes been less than blistering, though the concentration is always white hot. The course, which starts and finishes at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie and includes a couple of westerly turning marks well out at sea on the north-going leg, is a clockwise circuit to include the Ile de Re to the south and the Ile d’Yeu to the north.
At the start after its short first windward leg, there was a theory circulating that slightly stronger winds might be found offshore for the leg to Ile de Re, and Ireland’s Joan Mulloy with Taste the Atlantic and Scotland’s Alan Roberts were in a group taking this option. But it proved to be a false trail, and by the time the front runners were passing Les Sables d’Olonne eight miles down the coast, the inshore leader Charlie Dalin had a couple of miles in hand on those offshore.
For Dalin, a good result in this concluding Stage 4 is important, as he had a frustrating performance in the long Stage 3 from northwest Spain to Saint-Gilles. He has a new IMOCA 60 in build for the 2020 Golden Globe, and sponsors need encouragement at the stage, something which they’re having in abundance with Simon Sebastien, current overall leader, who likewise has an IMOCA 60 on the way for 2020’s big one.
"Joan Mulloy has picked up a place to 34th"
Ireland’s Tom Dolan in Smurfit Kappa stayed with the inshore fleet, but found difficulty in hitting the pace he’d built up in Stage 3 when he was 11th overall and First Rookie, and off Les Sables he was back in 21st. This morning, with the fleet in the north-going sections up to Ile d’Yeu after the at-times challenging rounding of the Ile de Re, Dolan may be shown in 20th and making 6 knots. But he is only 2.6 miles astern of the current leader Benjamin Dutreux, who has Anthony Marchane and Charlie Dalin close by in second and third they beat to windward towards the Ile d’Yeu after putting the most westerly mark astern.
Meanwhile, Joan Mulloy has picked up a place to 34th, she has the westerly mark astern and is on the wind beating for Ile d’Yeu with 6.6 knots on the clock.
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