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Cork's solo sailor David Kenefick, along with the rest of the Figaro fleet, is tackling his last race before the Solitaire du Figaro next month. The event is called the Solo Concarneau. It starts at 14:00 Irish time today. The 340 miles long race sees the fleet race up and down the French coast almost as far as Ushant to the North and Ile d'Yeu to the South.

The disappointing thing about this race is that there is no tracker system so we are going to be a lot less informed about what is going on than our last reports from the Solo Arrimer race in April.

Nevertheless it will be interesting on many counts. below please find team maanger Marcus Hutchinson's  latest blog.

This is another race but with many differences. The sailors are better prepared than for the Solo Arrimer - they are by definition now twice as experienced as before - the weather is completely different and most importantly the chips are down. At stake is an entry in this year's Solitaire du Figaro. Winning the Solo Concarneau wouldn't necessarily guarantee a place but finishing 'down the pan' will certainly see an early exit.

An honest race is what is required from both the Artemis candidates. Honest in the sailors' ability to anticipate and react to the many obstacles and constant little challenges that are the solo sailor's lot.

They say that preparation is everything but until you see why some things are important and others less so it is difficult to know what to prioritise. There is no point being the fastest if you go the wrong way or get lost in the fog. There is no point sailing the perfect course if you don't have the energy to push the boat as hard as you can. There is no point having a smooth bottom and a fair keel if your electronics go down. In short there is no point being here if you aren't able to deal with adversity and rebound quickly.

The guys are far from perfect but they are better than before. The weather will be kinder to them this time too. It seems they have spent far too much time fighting 40-knot winds and not enough dealing with the subtleties of lighter winds and most significantly the transitional phases more commonly found in these conditions.

The competition is here again. This time there are 30 starters with all the usual suspects. The course also sees them sail through the challenging Raz de Sein, for the first time alone and, although we are in neaps, there will be quite a lot of tidal sailing to be dealt with.

The course sees the 30 boat fleet head upwind around the Glenan Islands before turning across the wind to PenMarch and then downwind North across the Bay of Audierne through the Raz de Sein and up and around Pierre Noire just South of Ushant. This hairpin bend will then see the fleet reaching South and then South East outside everything to the Brivideaux lighthouse, which is near the Quiberon Peninsula, before hardening up a little bit to head South down to and circumnavigating Ile d'Yeu. The return North to Concarneau and the finish is the longest single leg. It will start as a close reach and the fleet will be slowly headed as they come North and will finish the race upwind, maybe even short tacking along the coast for the last 50 miles!

The first part of the course will require some tactical nous and then some strategically strong decisions. The next part of the course from the Pierre Noires down to Yeu will require one overwhelming element. SPEED. The return leg will require force of character to stay fast, fight the fatigue and the ability to chose the right moments to sail high or sail low as the wind ultimately heads the fleet and turns a reach into a long beat.

There should be winds peaking in the mid-20s on Wednesday morning but other than that we should see a fairly medium-breezed race. What remains to be seen is if there will be any important transitional phases that fall between light and dark and light.

Regrettably this race doesn't have a tracker system running and so we will be reliant on AIS and Marine Traffic.com to see progress around the track along with the infrequent updates from the radar enabled Semaphore/Coastguard Stations that are still scattered the length of the French coast line. Finish time for the first boats is expected to be late afternoon on Wednesday, the stragglers can be expected a few hours later.

We have a busy few days immediately after the finish of the Solo Concarneau as some of the boats in this Anglo-Irish squad will be trying new sails and specifically sails with their Figaro Race livery, all especially for the camera of our resident photographer Brian Carlin. The two Artemis boys Ed Hill and Jackson Bouttell will be informed as to whether one or both of them will sail the big race, and then there is the preparation to move the whole show to Bordeaux by sea and road 10 days later.

Exciting times indeed. Keep this frequency clear!!!

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#figaro – Exhausted but elated to have secured his place for June's Solitaire du Figaro race, 22–year–old Cork sailor David Kenefick talked to Afloat.ie on completing his longest race to date, the 320–mile Solo Arrimer this morning. 

The Crosshaven rookie who finished 21st in the 25-boat fleet admits in this podcast there is plenty of room for improvement before his debut in the French multi-leg offshore race in two month's time.

The world-renowned Figaro comprises of four legs of approximately 400-500 miles single handed starting from Bordeaux in early June 2013 against 35 other skippers all using identical equipment. Kenefick, one of eight rookies in the race will be Ireland's sole entry.

British solo offshore sailing took a step in the right direction this weekend, as three Anglo-Saxon Figaro skippers conquered the Rookie podium. Storming the 305-mile Solo Arrimer finish line at around 23:30 BST on Friday 12th April, 22 year old Artemis Offshore Academy sailor Jack Bouttell claimed the Rookie podium top spot, finishing 16th overall out of field of 26 sailors packed with talent. The next Artemis Rookie over the line was Ed Hill, who stepped up on the podium behind comrade Jack to take second, a great achievement and confidence boost for both British Academy sailors in only the second solo race of their careers.

Completing the Anglo Rookie trio was Irish Figaro sailor David Kenefick, who finished 21st overall behind Ed in 20th.

The British and Irish invasion left no room for the French on the up-and-coming Rookie podium, and with six fresh faced and eager to prove Anglo talents now racing on the circuit, could the French-dominated tide of the Figaro Class slowly be on the turn?
"I think my race went well. I had good boat speed at times and in general I'm happy with my performance and result," reported Jack after finishing the race, his happiness breaking through the exhaustion. "My highs for the race were finishing, of course, and just launching the boat downwind over the big Bay of Biscay waves in 30-40 knots of wind." Watch Jack's post race interview here.
"Jack sailed a consistent and intelligent race the whole way round the course" said event coach Marcus Hutchinson. "He told me afterwards that the way he keeps going and motivated in the darkest moments is to eat more. I think Jack consumes three or four times as much food on these races than anyone else. But if it works for him, then we'll find the food!" Read Marcus' Solo Arrimer race wrap up here.
Conditions for the 36-hour race were heinous and the course starting and finishing in Les Sables d'Olonne was shortened slightly to 305 miles. Wind speeds built from 6 knots for the start to a howling 40+ knots through the night combined with a 3 to 4 meter swell, ensuring that the sailors' first Atlantic race of 2013 was a real solo offshore challenge.
"The weary, but crazed eyes of all the skippers as we tucked into soup and crepes after the finish just said it all," reported Academy graduate Henry Bomby. "We all knew we had experienced something pretty cool during this race, something that not everyone will get to ever experience." Read the Academy sailors' war stories here.
Five British sailors lined up for the Solo Arrimer alongside a festival of Figaro rock stars. Academy graduates Henry and Nick Cherry, along with Ed, battled it out to finish within minutes of one another, with Henry just pipping them both to the finish line in 18th, improving on his 2012 result by 10 places. Now in his third year in the Figaro Class, Sam Goodchild was the first British boat over the line, just missing out on a top ten spot in 11th, to finish 50 minutes behind winner Morgan Lagraviére, and just ahead of the 'Professeur' himself, Michel Desjoyeaux, who makes his return to the Figaro after four years away.
"The race was a lot of fun, but at the same time incredibly challenging," Sam admitted. "We had some of the worst weather conditions I have ever seen in a race. But I put up a good fight and I'm happy with my result. It's encouraging to know I'm not too far off the pace."
Solo Arrimer winner Morgan, a French Olympic 49er sailor, finished the race in 1 day, 9 hours, 40 minutes and 43 seconds, just 13 minutes ahead of second skipper Thierry Chabagny. Yann Eliés, 2012 Solitaire du Figaro winner, came through the harsh Atlantic conditions to take third.
"During the Solo Arrimer all of the skippers proved they can safely get their boats around the course, race, navigate and bring it home in terrible conditions, there is no need to be too clever when being intelligent is enough. The strong winds and white water battering the sailors and their boats for the duration of the Solo Arrimer were not only a test of the solo skippers' metal, but of their stamina, performance and self management," concluded Marcus. "This weekend's podium results will come as a huge morale and psychological boost for both Ed and Jack in training and ahead of their next race, but that was just 30 odd hours, we've still got a lot of work to do in preparation for the 1,938 miles of intense racing that is the Solitaire du Figaro."
After celebrating his first Figaro Rookie class win by popping his first bottle of Pol Roger on the pontoon, Jack, along with Ed and Nick set sail straight away for Concarneau, France where they will now spend the next three weeks training and preparing with event coach Marcus for the Solo Concarneau starting May 6th, as well as their boats getting a refit so they are ready, if selected, to be on the Solitaire start line in June.

Solo Arrimer overall results

Position/Skipper (Boat name) Time at sea
1. Morgan Lagravière (Vendée) - 1 day 9hours 40min 43sec
2 .Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat) - 1 day 9hours 53min 45sec
3. Yann Elies (Group Queguiner Leukemia Hope) - 1 day 9hours 55min 14sec
4. Nicolas Lunven (Generali) - 1 day 10 hours 38sec
5. Jeremiah Beyou (Master Chef) - 1 day 10hours 02min
6. Xavier Macaire (Skipper Hérault) - 1 day 10hours 4min 40sec
7. Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) - 1 day 10hours 19min 5sec
8. Frédéric Duthil (Sepalumic) - 1 day 10hours 26min 56sec
9. Alexis Loison (Group Fiva) - 1 day 10hours 27min 25sec
10. Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) - 1 day 10hours 27min 27sec
11. Sam Goodchild (Shelter Box) - 1 day 10hours 30min 45sec
12. Meilhat Paul (Macif) - 1 day 10hours 35min 50sec
13. Michel Desjoyeaux (TBS) - 1 day 10hours 41min 07sec
14. Julien Villion (Seixo Habitat) - 1 day 10hours 42min 6sec
15. Frédéric Rivet (DFDS Seaways) - 1 day 10hours 48min 48sec
16. Jackson Bouttell (Artemis 77) - 1 day 10hours 50min 31sec
17. Matthew Girolet (Lafont Presse) - 1 day 10hours 51min 35sec
18. Henry Bomby (Zhik - Made for Water ) - 1 day 10hours 57min 23sec
19. Nicholas Cherry (Artemis 23) - 1 day 11hours 14min 29sec
20. Ed Hill (Artemis 37) - 1 day 11hours 33min 35sec
21. David Kenefick (Full Irish) - 1 day 11hours 48min 26sec
22. Claire Pruvost (Port de Caen Ouistream) - 1 day 12hours 36min 35sec
23. Joan Ahrweiller ( Basse Normandie) - 1 day 12hours 38min 24sec and
24. Yannig Livory (Thermacote France) - 1 day 12hours 43min 19sec and
25. Gilles Le Baud (Carnac Thalasso & Spa) - 1 day 13hours 49 min 53 sec
26. Benoit Hochart (Aquarius) - 1 day 13hours 55min 55 sec

Published in Figaro
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There is a reason the Figaro Class has a Rookie prize in every event they run. And it is highly sought after writes Marcus Hutchinson.

The French call it the Bizuth prize. In the Solo Arrimer there were six 'Bizuths', three French two British and one Irish.

Starting out in this singlehanded game is tough, not only because it IS really, really tough!!!! but because you don't really know what you are getting into in detail until you actually go and do it, a few times, in a range of different conditions. You only learn and get better from practice.

Figaro sailing is not just about learning how to manouvere the boat by yourself and find fast sail settings and manage the transitions and be tactically astute.

A long offshore race is tough for anyone. But until you go and try and do all of those things by yourself, for a long, long time you wont understand the importance of the different parts of preparation. Hence, real reward for the Rookies.

Along with his Artemis Offshore Academy Rooky buddies Ed Hill and Jack Bouttell, David Kenefick has been slowly ramping up his exposure to longer and longer races, to races with more and more entries and a higher standard and to racing in complex parts of the world with tide, rocks, Atlantic depressions, cold and wet.

This event, the Solo Arrimer, is the next step in that path and there will be another similar race in three weeks time in Concarneau. Three weeks after that the Rookies, along with everyone else who enters the Solitaire du Figaro will be doing four slightly longer races back to back with just a couple of days recovery time between each leg. This is a truly epic sporting undertaking for a young man or woman to undertake and it needs to be taken seriously.

No one is under illusions about what is involved in supporting the Artemis team and David. Those three young men are beginning to now understand more and more about how much they didn't know.

When they started they didn't know what they didn't know, now they are beginning to learn what it is they don't know and soon they will know everything that they don't know.

Only then can they go about removing the long list of don't knows and become experienced. You are a Rookie for one season only. It is rare indeed for a Rookie to finish in the top five. Over that last 44 years of the race a Rookie has placed in the top five on only a handful of occasions.

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Follow David Kenefick's progress in his final qualification race for this Summer's figaro race. Today's race at 320nm miles is the longest the Crosshaven sailor will have completed to date. He's also lining up against some of the best French skippers. more here.

Published in Figaro

#figaro – If solo sailor David Kenefick successfully completes completes tomorrow's 'Lien Cartographie Solo Arrimer' race he officially qualifies for this Summer's Figaro race, a long held ambition for the young Munster sailor.

LIVE TRACK DAVID KENEFICK's PROGRESS

The race at 320nm miles is the longest the Crosshaven sailor will have completed to date in his boat Aquarius. He's also lining up against the best French skippers (See below for entry list)

Organised by the Water Sports Sablais since 2003 Sables d'Olonne, the Solo STOW runs between the islands of Ré, Yeu and Belle-Ile  on the French West Coast.

While a large depression, accompanied by high winds, is poised to sweep west over France today, the weather files show a weaker low pressure system from Thursday.

There will be plenty of competition from previous Vendee Globe sailors plus he's also racing against Michel Desjoyeaux, (a three time Figaro winner) and (two time Vendee globe winner) but the Irish sailor says he has something of an advantage in that he is in Desjoyeaux's old boat after chartering it for the year!

Full list of entries below:

Joan Ahrweiller / REGION NORMANDY, Jeremiah BEYOU / MASTER COCK, Henry Bomby / Zhik - MADE FOR WATER, Jack Bouttell / ARTEMIS 77; Thierry Chabagny / GEDIMAT, Nick CHERRY / ARTEMIS 23; Michel DESJOYEAUX / TBS; Frédéric DUTHIL / Sepalumic; Yann ELIES / GROUP QUEGUINER LEUKEMIA HOPE, Matthew GIROLET / LAFONT PRESS, Sam GOODCHILD / VASCO DE GAMA, Edmund HILL / ARTEMIS 37; Benoit HOCHART / AQUARIUS: David Kenefick / FULL IRISH; Morgan LAGRAVIERE / VENDEE; Gilles LE BAUD / Carnac Thalasso & SPA , Armel LE CLEAC'H / CREDIT; Yannig Livory / THERMACOTE France; Alexis Loison / Group FIVA Nicolas LUNVEN / GENERALI; Xavier MACAIRE / SKIPPER HERAULT, Paul Meilhat / SKIPPER MACIF 2011, Jean-Pierre Nicol / BERNARD CONTROLS, Claire PRUVOT / PORT DE CAEN OUISTREHAM; Frederic RIVET / DFDS SEAWAYS; Julien VILLION / Seixo HABITAT.

Update from David:

Well this is it. It's the night before the start of the Solo Arrimer Race. We are in Les Sables, in the Atlantic, with the tide and of course the beautiful, not, Spring weather. The pictures I posted on my facebook page two days ago were a freak window of sun and light winds before the rot set back in and it has been blowing over 30 knots ever since. Today it barely stopped raining. But that is the lot of a solo sailor. Get up and get on with it.
It's a long course they have set us, the longest I've sailed at 305 miles, but ironically it may end up being only 36 hours in duration as there is plenty of wind and it is mostly a reach up and down the French coast. We head initially South East to pass inside ile de Ré and under the bridge that joins it to the mainland by La Rochelle, before heading North all the way up inside Belle Isle to a mark just off the tip of the Quiberon Penninsula. We then return via Les Sables d'Olonne to round Ile de Ré again, but this time in the other direction before heading to the finish line again.
My objectives for the race are, number one to finish the race, number two to stay in touch with the legends that have also entered the race too for as long as possible, and three to gather as much experience as possible.
I've learnt this week about the unbelievable amount of preparation that goes into entering and being cleared to race. The amount of paperwork is unbelievable but all necessary. We have been working hard on weather and navigation briefings as the start time rolls closer and we have a better idea of what we will experience on the weather side and hence at what time and what state of the tide we will round the marks on the course. We have been checked by safety scrutineers, sail measurers, the press and of course Mathilde at the Class association has diligently helped us all with the certificates for this and that and the other ,... oh and the PLB battery expiration date!
Safety is a serious business and no one takes it lightly. I already appreciate more now than I did a week ago about why things are done the way they are done. Being in this environment for a week allows us to learn from the older and more experienced skippers about their preparation, what their priorities are and where our own preparation is lacking.
Anyway, now it's like the night before your final school exams. The revision has been done to a greater or lessor extent, there is not much more we can do except be fresh in the morning and go out and do it. The exam results should be known sometime in the small hours of Saturday morning when we cross the finish line here again in Les Sables d'Olonne.

Published in Figaro

#lafigaro – Cork Solo sailor David Kenefick has completed the final leg of the ICOM CUP Méditeranée in fifth place to finish 11th overall and qualified to participate in La Solitaire du Figaro 2013 writes Claire Bateman.

The ICOM Cup is a three stage single handed offshore race in the qualification procedure to compete in Le Solitaire du Figaro 2013. The first stage of the ICOM Cup was a 140nm offshore race to Marseille followed by a day of inshore racing with the return race being somewhat longer with an extra two legs to round the Séte buoy before finishing and thus adding some 36nm to the course. This was the longest race to date in the qualification process. The race threw up all sorts of conditions that included shredding his mainsail in 36 knots of wind gusting 42 necessitating finishing the leg under jib alone.

To give an insight into the race experience I quote as follows from David on the return leg to Le Grande Motte: "We are thirty hours into this race now and although I am in eighth position I have broken away from the leader of the last group. We are moving very slowly along the beach of the Rhone Estuary. The two leaders are ahead around the next mark and have got away, but the group of boats ahead of me from fourth to seventh are most certainly catchable. The sun has gone and it's getting dark and so of course the sea breeze has gone. This transition is my chance. Got to stay focused, keep myself safe, and work intelligently!!"

Kenefick adds:  "I finished fifth, the boat ahead was Henry Bomby a twenty two year old from the Artemis Offshore Academy who finished just a few lengths ahead of me after forty eight hours of racing".

This year the 44th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro will start in Bordeaux and go via Porto, Gigón and Roscoff to the fnishing port of Dieppe a distance of approximately 2000 km. The race will commence on June 2nd, 2013.

Overall ICOM Cup Mediterranee results:
Position/Skipper/Figaro no./Nationality/Time
1. Xavier Macaire/8/FRA/2d, 16h, 26' 10"
2. Jean Pierre Nicol/68/FRA/2d, 18h, 30' 49"
3. Matthieu Girolet/86/FRA/2d, 22h, 27' 13"
4. Pietro d'Ali/42/ITA/2d, 22h, 52' 30"
5. Jack Bouttell/77/GBR/2d, 23h, 01' 05"
6. Gwenael Gbick/29/FRA/3d, 00h, 15' 49"
7. Ed Hill/37/GBR/3d, 00h, 33', 00"
8. Yves Ravot/31/FRA/3d, 00h, 35' 05"
9. Alexia Barrier/49/FRA/3d, 02h, 11' 55"
10.Henry Bomby/23/GBR/4d, 2h, 29' 23"
11.David Kenefick/45/IRL/4d, 02h, 38' 01"
12.Jean Paul Mouren/13/FRA/5d, 06h, 20' 40"

 

Published in Figaro

From onboard his Figaro yacht Cork rookie David Kenefick talks about his first 140–nautical mile race in La Grande Motte, France.

Kenefick finished second of six finishers and in this audio clip with interviewer Brian Carlin describes race tactics, freezing conditions, fishing trawlers and sleep deprivation.

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#PORTS AND SHIPPING-The 74,258 gross tonnes Figaro, a large car truck carrier (LCTC) capable of loading 7879 cars or 432 trucks, which was launched this year, docked at Dublin Port today, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Figaro arrived into Dublin Bay off the Baily Lighthouse, having appeared over the horizon from the Kish Lighthouse after a voyage from Tarragona, Spain. She originally set sail at the start of October from Kwangwang in South Korea and since then made en route calls to three other ports of the South East Asian state in addition to Aqaba in Jordan, Derince in Turkey and Voltri in Italy.

She is operated by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines (WWL) and was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The new vessel's principle dimensions are (length: 227.8m, beam: 32.26 and a draft of 11.3m) and she has a deadweight (metric tonnes) of 30,900.

The Swedish company together with subsidiaries and partner's, operates a fleet of about 135 vessels. Of these, Wallenius owns or charters around 35. They can carry up to 8,000 cars, or a combination of cars, trucks, cranes, large rolls of paper and rubber or large turbines. They have also transported parts for wind turbines, luxury yachts, complete train-sets and aircraft wings.

Figaro's docking in Dublin today was at berth 33, which is the centre berth of three lining Ocean Pier which has a quayside totalling 410m long. The pier is within Alexandra Basin and is to the east side of this dock which is approached from the port channel opposite the Poolbeg Marina.

After Dublin she continues her global schedule to Bremerhaven (16 Nov), Zeebrugge (23 Nov), Southampton (24 Nov), Baltimore, USA (3 Dec), Savannah, GA USA (6 Dec), Manzanillo, Panama (11 Dec), Auckland (29 Dec), Brisbane in the New Year (2 Jan) and two days later is expected to dock in Port Kemble also in Australia.

Earlier this year the world's largest ro-ro carrier Tonsberg (PHOTO) also part of the WWL fleet, docked in Dublin having entered service in March. She has a cargo volume of 138,000 cubic metres, some 10% greater than the largest ro-ro vessels in service including her fleetmate the Figaro.

The 74,622grt vessel is the first of four Mark V class on order from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan. They are capable of handling handle high and heavy cargo such as excavators, bulldozers, wheel loaders and harvesters. Her sister Parsifal followed in September and the final pair of the quartet are due for delivery in 2012.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Today, Wednesday at 12:49:01 Jérémie Beyou crossed the line first to win the fourth and final leg from Les Sables d'Olonne to Dieppe. By finishing in Dieppe ahead of the rest of the fleet, and scoring his third consecutive victory, BPI's skipper Jérémie Beyou was crowned overall winner of the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro, an edition he dominated from the outset.  This win means he joins the exclusive club of double winners of the event.

The BPI skipper covered the 437 miles in 72 hours, 37 minutes and 1 second. It was one of the closest finishes ever for the race, with four boats flying past the line in a little more than 30 seconds. Second place went to Paul Meilhat (Macif 2011) just 12 seconds later, third to Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham) 28 seconds after the winner and fourth to Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) at within 35 seconds.

King Jérémie
At 35 and on his 12th participation in La Solitaire du Figaro, Jérémie Beyou secures his second victory following that obtained in 2005. He joins the very exclusive club of winners to have won the event twice; Armel Le Cléac'h (2003-2010), Nicolas Troussel (2006-2008), Jean-Marie Vidal (1972-1987), Gilles Gahinet (1977-1980), Guy Cornou (1975-1976) and Gilles le Baud (1973-1978). Only Philippe Poupon (1982-1985-1995), Jean Le Cam (1994-1996-1999) and Michel Desjoyeaux (1992-1998-2007) managed to do better with three wins each...

Beyou's domination over the four legs was rarely challenged: on the first stage between Perros-Guirec and Caen, he ruled the game together with Thomas Rouxel and Nicolas Lunven in the light airs up to twenty miles from the finish, only to be caught out in an bubble with no wind which saw him loose the leadership.  He then went on to set the pace and lead on the breezy second leg that was 470 miles long, mainly upwind from up Caen to Dùn Laoghaire, and put his trademark on the third to Les Sables d'Olonne, also setting the pace and leading in the medium and light airs. Never giving up, Beyou built his lead and then final triumph on the fourth leg, carefully fencing off all of his adversaries' attacks. And, even more impressive, Jérémie Beyou won all the four GMF Trophy prizes, that is to say the turning point of each leg!

The rising star
By finishing in third on the final leg and second overall, Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) becomes the rising star and future talent to watch out for in the Bénéteau Figaro class. The young sailor from Caen, who won the first leg on home waters, showed an impressive consistency finishing seventh, second and third in the following legs and only 35 minutes separates him in the overall ranking from the winner.

And the bronze goes to...
Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat), who finished 4th in Dieppe, had to wait until his closest rivals in the overall time accumulated rankings finished, to find out that he had the third place this season. Both Nicolas Lunven (Generali) and Thomas Rouxel (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance) finished their Solitaire du Figaro 2011 participation with average performance, 24th and 22nd respectively to relinquish the third spot to a deserving Tabarly. Erwan Tabarly concludes with a mere 5 minutes lead on Lunven and Rouxel.

The new kids on the block
This 42nd edition of la Solitaire du Figaro was also marked by the presence in the top part of the scoreboard of a number of newcomers to the race: rookies such as Xavier Macarie (Starter Active Bridge) finished 4th in Caen, Morgan Lagravière (Vendée) 12th in Dun Laoghaire, 9th in Les Sables d'Olonne, 7th in Dieppe. An impressive performance that rewarded the 24-years-old skipper from the Vendée region, not only with the overall victory in the rookie class, but also with a remarkable 8th place in the general ranking. Second place goes to Xavier Macaire (Sterter Active Bridge), 8 minutes and 33 seconds behind while Jersey based Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) managed to finish in third overall by only four seconds after more than 260 hours at sea!

They said:

Jérémie Beyou (BPI), overall winner of the Solitaire 2011 with three leg wins
"I feel a bit guilty, Paul (Meilhat) sailed really well on this last leg and he deserved to win. How do you win a Solitaire? It's not only a matter of performances, it's also about willpower, you have to train, get organised, question yourself, never give up and you need luck too. It may sound obvious but it's a combination of all these factors. And this year I had everything that I needed. I've been thinking about coming back to win since 2009, and I've done everything I could."
On how he managed to keep his nerves, and his margin: "After the third leg, I told myself that I could make it again: I knew that Fabien (Delahaye) was a bit faster than me downwind, but I didn't panic. I tried to remain self-confident. Because I know my strong and weak points and thats how I manage not to be anxious of my adversaries."
About joining the double winners' club: "Right, with Nicolas Troussel and Armel Le Cléach', now we're three from the bay of Morlaix. We've always done everything together, but it's amazing anyway."
When asked if he will come back on the Solitaire Beyou commented: "I don't know the answer. Maybe yes, but not just to be there. And physically it's very tough, true I won three legs but I'm exhausted."
What the winner likes most about the race: "The constant fight, the level of the competition. But there's more, when you finish there's such a special atmosphere, you feel at home, people are smiling at you and it's nice to meet the others ashore. The organisers have made a fantastic job and it's not only the sailors that make this race so special..."

Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) – 3rd in Dieppe and second overall
"First, seventh, second, third: I'm over the moon with my performance over the four legs and to jump on the second step of the podium is great. These are good results, but the Solitaire victory is calculated on total time and Jérémie (Beyou) never let me go. At times it was me at times him to be in front, but we've never been more than half a mile apart. We made the same choices, he was keeping a constant watch on me, and now and then we could even talk to each other. It was an amazing leg and I'm happy to have lived it with him! Two years ago I was fighting with Paul (Meilhat) for the rookie win and we were finishing in Dieppe, you can say that this is like a nice remake of the same movie. You have to be consistent and being there with the best ones on all the legs. There is a bunch of new kids to keep an eye on: Morgan Lagravière, Phil Sharp among the rookies, but also Anthony Marchand, Thomas Rouxel, Paul Meilhat... they come from everywhere! "

Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) – 3rd overall and 4th in leg three
"A fourth place in this last leg, I could have done better! I would have loved to finish with a win because I knew I could make it, but I'm on the third step of the podium and that's brilliant. It's been a long time that I have been up in the top ten, but I could not get on the podium, so that's great. I still have to go up two places but it's true that Jérémie (Beyou) was untouchable and Fabien (Delahaye) sailed very well. I set my watch to see if I was going to be third overall, Thomas Rouxel was too far behind but Nicolas Lunven was only 27 minutes back. Not that much. On this last leg it was impossible to relax, it all came down to detail, the good boat handling...  This year's format is very interesting, because you had plenty of little options to take all the time. We've been sailing round the rocks, with and against the current, wind shifting, coastal effects: enough to keep you busy. I hope one day I will win this race and I hope not to be 60 when I will!"

Published in Figaro
Tagged under
16th August 2011

Figaro Fleet Near Les Sables

After the excitement of the Dun Laoghaire depature on Sunday the third leg of the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro should be finishing in Les Sables d'Olonne on Wednesday around noon. The 46 boat strong fleet has been progressing in light sea breeze along the Brittany coast. French skipper Jérémie Beyou is still leading, but everything could still happen on the last hundred miles to the finish.

Will it be café and croissant for the finish? Since over 50 hours, the 46 solo skippers have been playing the tough game of choosing the best route and decoding each and every little wind shift to keep speed up. That's a game race leader Jérémie Beyou on BPI is a master at. He has been at the front for the last two days, but will he manage to fence off his competitors' attacks up to the finish line? His pursuers, Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat), Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham) and Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat) have been chasing him and hope to get nearer, as daylight fades away and the sea breeze will give way to a light north-westerly. According to the latest position report his advantage has been reduced to 0.5 miles.
Up until the Barges lighthouse, on a tiny rock just off Les Sables d'Olonne, there will be no other course mark and the skippers will be free to choose their route, which will nonetheless be full of traps and islands to be wary of Glénan, Groix, Belle Ile, Ile d'Yeu. The match is not over yet and the coming hours will be crucial.

Phil Sharp still in the top ten and first rookie
Jersey based Phil Sharp keeps on showing good speed and tactics, at 15:30 he was reported to have jumped up one more position and was in 6th , less than two miles from Beyou and still leading the rookie ranking, with second newcomer Morgan Lagravière in 11th one mile further back. Other UK solo sailors Sam Goodchild and Conrad Humpreys are still battling neck-to-neck in 25th and 26th respectively. Nigel King's overnight option did not pay off and he slipped down to 32nd whilst Portugal Francisco Lobato lies in 44th.

What is that?
As the Solitaire skippers were getting to Penmarch' a big blue "monster" approached them. It was no other than maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V, that just smashed the Fastnet Race record, on her delivery journey from Plymouth. The crew waved and saluted some of the sailors, among whom they saw fellow crew members Thierry Chabagny and Erwan Tabarly, before sprinting away at full speed.

Skippers' quotes
Jérémie Beyou (BPI): "It is harder to be in front downwind."
"it's a textbook situation: past Penmarc'h the weather is always good. It's nice to have some sun. There's a breeze so we're moving. The wind is not going to die out at least until tonight, later it will probably turn right and become north-west. We'll have to gybe. True, when you are leading you show the way to the others. It is harder to be in front downwind. Would be great to have a bit more leeway. But they are there, close behind, and I'll have to deal with that."

Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat): "It's not over yet"
"A big blue bird just flew past my little Gedimat. It was amazing to watch Banque Populaire so close and she was so fast, the crew waved at me (Thierry has been sailing on the maxi tri for the last two years and is going to be on board next winter for the Jules Vernes Trophy record attempt, ed. note). It was such a joy. They did the same to Erwan and Jérémie. We've hoisted the spinnaker but the air is very light. We're still moving so nothing to complain about, a nice afternoon is on the menu. I managed to sleep, had a good nap before passing the Four. I slept also after the Raz de Sein. Four 20 minute siestas, not bad at all, and I feel ok. We're waiting for the wind to go right, a small ridge is coming towards us, tonight or tomorrow it's going to become north-west and the way to manage this is what we're all thinking about."

Sam Goodchild (Artemis): "So far it's been good."
"So far it's been very good, I broke nothing which is the first time through the race. I had a bad bit off Land's End so I was near the back and then had a better bit off Ushant, and then I think I'm back in the middle but I'm not sure. Now is beautiful sailing with sun and a bit of wind. Hopefully the wind stays but we will have to wait and see. Maybe tonight it's a bit more difficult. At the moment I'm happy and just trying to enjoy the sailing, I'm next to Jeanne Gregoire and Gildas Morvan so it's not too bad. I'm not 100% sure what's going to happen first with the wind, we expect it to turn light but that may happen when it gets dark and the sun is gone, I'm not too sure. We're waiting. We still have 117 miles to the finish, so it will probably be tomorrow afternoon."

Romain Attanasio (Savéol): "Some sun at last!"
"Some sun at last! I've to decide whether to wear shorts or not, we're no longer used to. I've used a cap for the first time! Heading to Sables under spinnaker but the wind is light. Some are a bit further inshore, we're more offshore and I'm just behind Thierry Chabagny and the leading trio. Those behind you think you've managed to get some lead and then bang, they come again... it's a bit stressful. I think that something is going to happen soon, so I'll need to be ready to take the shift. I'm not sure how that's going to happen."

Conrad Humpreys (DMS): "Very difficult at the moment."
"It's very difficult at the moment, very light breeze. We are five boats very close to each other, with Banque Populaire, Artemis, Vandee, myself and Think Blue. We try and make the most of the small amounts of wind to get to the finish but I think we're all very tired so it's quite difficult. I think we'll see the wind veer and come around a little bit more to the West and then the North-West and maybe we'll jibe back in towards the shore. But at the moment we've got 120 miles so it's going to be a very slow finish, may be take twenty-four hours at least to the finish."

Published in Figaro
Page 5 of 8

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