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Displaying items by tag: Figaro

A new start in the Celtic Sea?

 

It's sounds incredible, but that is the La Solitaire du Figaro race! Efforts invested in the past 48 hours could come down to very little for the 46 skippers participating on the second leg of the famous single-handed race. At 166 miles from the finish (on the 16:00 position report), the notoriously tricky navigation through Celtic Sea could change everything. The race could start all over again, with some twenty boats lines up laterally across 30 miles from East to West.

Further East, Alexis Loison (Port Chantereyne Cherbourg Octeville, showing as leader on the position ranking at 16:00 is equidistant to the finish with Jérémie Beyou (BPI), positioned furthest West.  Soon the solo sailors are going to find radically different conditions on the water. With the breeze is due to back from North to Southwest, the spinnakers will be hoisted and likely stay up for the run to the finish in Dùn Laoghaire, where the fleet is expected to arrive on Wednesday morning.  The skippers must dig deep and concentrate, despite the exhaustion that has surely seeped in over the past two days of tough upwind racing, as they face a whole new weather scenario comes in for the final hours of the leg.

It was a two-day long and tiring passage for the sailors to reach the Celtic Sea. First to cross the virtual line placed between the tip of Cornwall and the Scilly Islands and thus winning Grand Prix GMF Assistance was Jérémie Beyou (BPI) at 7:13 this morning, after a long, tactical night ahead of Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) and Nicolas Lunven (Generali).  The sailors are opting for different routes according to a weather pattern which is all, but easy to decipher. The big question on everyone's mind is whether there will be a speedy rotation of the wind from the North backing to the Southwest and then South quickly or not.  The sailors are await this rotation to set them off on a speedy downwind delivery ride to the finish.

Skippers have reported improved conditions on the water today, with welcome sunny spells and some 15 knots of westerly breeze allowing for the fleet to ease out the sails a little after tacking.  This transition period, marked the end of the fight against the elements, strong winds and choppy seas, to a final, fast surf to the finish. The first ones to hoist their spinnakers will probably benefit from higher speeds and increase their lead.

Will it be Alexis Loison (leading at 16.00), Jean-Charles Monnet (Paris 15e), rookie sailor Xavier Macaire (Starter Active Bridge), the group further West with Jérémie Beyou (BPI) second in today's ranking, Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) third, Nicolas Lunven (Generali) fifth or even those who took a very radical offshore option like Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) and Thierry Chabagny  (Gédimat) come out in the lead?  Could it be a no-match situation? Not unlikely, if one considers that 30 out of the 46 competitors are sailing within 4 miles of each other, that is to say only 2% of the way to Dùn Laoghaire!

The ever-consistent Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) has maintained his position in the top part of the fleet and was reported in 15th position, only 1.7 miles behind the leader.  Conrad Humphreys (DMS) from Plymouth has been climbing his way up progressively going from 39th to 25th and just 3 miles behind the leader.  The youngest competitor, Sam Goodchild from Southampton, who started prematurely and who spent the first day playing catch up, is 2.5 miles ahead of fellow countryman, Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) in 39th place.  Francisco Lobato (ROFF) from Portugal, not one to follow the pack, has opted for the most eastern position of the fleet, climbing 5 places since midday.

Apart from tactical options, a major role will be played by the skippers' ability to resist the fatigue from setting in over the final miles of race, as since Sunday's start in Caen they have grabbed very little rest. To be fast downwind they will need every single drop of energy and pay maximum attention to helm almost continuously in a damp and uncomfortable environment. Who will be the toughest one? The answer to this question will probably be given only tomorrow, close to the finish line...
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Published in Figaro
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There has been plenty of action in the first 24 hours of racing on the second leg of La Solitaire du Figaro from Caen to Dún Laoghaire, Dublin.  Jean-Pierre Nicol, racing on board Bernard Controls moves into the lead following the bold decision to race in close to shore through the rocky area round the Cherbourg peninsula this morning, whilst David Sineau (Britanie Cosmetiques) is forced to abandon the race as a result of the damage suffered after hitting the rocks close to Barfleur.  Twenty to twenty five knots of established breeze from the West, North-West continues to propel the fleet on the upwind slog across the English Channel towards Land's End, the next point of passage, where the leaders are expected late Monday and early hours of Tuesday morning.

Soon after Sunday's start the fleet was hit by a strong squall which left Louis Maurice Tannyères (St. Ericsson) with a ripped genoa and the accompanying French Naval Patrol ship, PSP Cormoran salvaging some drifting paddlers and holidaying fisherman from being swept out into the Channel. Overnight the solo sailors covered the first 120 miles from Caen across the Cotentin coastline, round the Cherbourg peninsula and down between Sark and Hern to round Guernsey a relatively strong 25 knots of wind, gusting 35.  Local knowledge of the tricky tidal currents and rocky seaboard came in handy as the fleet negotiated the complicated passages; Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) being the boldest to sail on the inside of the Gros du Raz lighthouse through a very narrow channel in rough seas.  The gamble paid off to give him a mile advantage over the chasing pack.

Fourteen miles now separate the fleet laterally, with Eric Peron (Macif 2009, 17th and 2.6 miles from the leader) positioned furthest out to the West and Sam Goodchild (Artemis, 36th and 5.4 miles from the leader) out on the Eastern side.  Average boat speeds have slowed to just over 6 knots as they make headway to Land's End.  "We have clear blue skies this afternoon with a swell and choppy seas, 20 to 25 knots of established breeze " described Jacques Caraës, the Race Director from the sea. "I imagine that now is the time for the solo sailors to try and get some rest in, let the autopilot do its job for a bit in the upwind conditions.  There will be one more tack to realign and pass round Land's End which we should reach late tonight or early hours of the morning Tuesday", he continues.

Jérémie Beyou (BPI), Frédéric Duthil (Sepalumic), the rookie sailor Morgan Lagravière (Vendée),  in 4th,  Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat), Eric Drouglazet (Luisina), Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert), and a list that reads like the Who's Who of Figaro sailing race are within a few hundred yards of each other as they continue to make inroads on the 290 miles that remain to the finish in Dún Laoghaire.  Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) is the first British sailor, currently lying in 15th place and just 2.2 miles from the leader.  Anthony Marchand (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Espoir), who reported a non-functioning autopilot shortly after the start, holds to 28th with a 4.3 mile deficit. With twelve miles now separating the leader from the trailing boat, Sébastien Picault on Kickers, the time gap under the current 6 knots of average boat speed, builds to two hours.

The 40 strong members of the shore operations and race management have arrived to Dun Laoghaire's National Yacht Club to prepare for the arrival of the 46 skippers expected on Wednesday 10th of August.

Quotes from the skippers at sea:
Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) – leading on the 16:00 position report rankings: "It has gone well for me so far: the first part of this leg was important off Cherbourg when I had to come in close to shore to shelter from the tidal currents.  Then I went through the rocky are, which was pretty hairy.  I just stayed below deck and used the autopilot and concentrated on watching the nav screen to get through the narrow passage.  I did not want to be outside, it was too frightening!  Now we are pretty much all on a port tack.  It feels good being in the leading position, lets hope it lasts!
This afternoon, we are making progress with the wind to the left (west) and in the coming hours, we should have a new rotation to the right (Northwest). We are expected to reach Land's End (tip of England) in the night or early morning ... "

Anthony Marchand (British Espoir Crédit Mutuel) – limiting the damage: "I have had a few problems which started just outside Ouistreham.  Firstly it was no electronics whatsoever.  I have basically been stuck at the help since the start.  The inshore start racing with the spinnaker was not easy at all in the waves.  Then the night was difficult because I had no wind information.  But all that is old news now.  I have to limit the damage and keep the time deficit down to a minimum.  Now I have changed to the solent jib, which means that there are 25 knots and it is shaking out here!"

Eric Drouglazet (Luisina) – in sixth place and 0.4 miles from the leader: "These are my kind of conditions and it was nice to go race in through the rocky area.  We did that for the Tour de France à la Voile, but there, all alone with the screen on your knees, it's quite something to be right in the middle of the rocks and race round inside the lighthouse at La Hague. But then at night, you see nothing, so there is less fear!  Since then, I have put the solent jib on and I have managed three short naps. Currently we are on a port tack.  No glitches to report on board: it's pretty good and normal, but then conditions should ease off a little.  The only real issue is the seaweed which you have to keep clearing from the rudders.

Published in Figaro
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The second leg of La Solitaire du Figaro got off on Sunday 7th of August in the Sein Bay, opposite Ouistreham in Normandy with  thousands of people lining the canal and outer harbour wall to wave the solo sailors off.  The start of the race was finally given under sunny skies with some 8 knots of southwesterly breeze and on a choppy sea. The course, made up of an initial 10 mile inshore preamble to the Radio France Buoy, is 470 miles from Caen to Dún Laoghaire Harbour, on the North East coast of Ireland, where the fleet is expected from Wednesday 10th of August.  Forecasts predict both strong wind and tidal currents for what unanimously agree will be a complex first 24 hours at sea.

The many spectator boats and thousands of people lining the Bay were treated fabulous conditions for the start of the second leg, which finally got underway at 16:49, some 50 minutes behind schedule.  The delay for Figaro, committee and security boats out of the lock in Ouistreham, due to an incident in the harbour, was then further increased when the committee was forced to re-set the start line.  Three individual recalls were called for Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert), Paul Meilhat (Macif 2011) and Sam Goodchild (Artemis) who were early over the start line, but managed to quickly repair.  Eric Drouglazet (Luisina) and Francisco Lobato (ROFF) enjoyed the best start at the committee boat end of the line.  Eric Peron (Macif 2009), Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat), Frederic Duthil (Sepalunic) and Jeremy Beyou (BPI) exchanged lead positions round the 10-mile windward-leeward inshore course to reach the Radio France buoy ahead of the competition.  Best performance from the international entries comes from Francisco Lobato (ROFF) who rounded in 9th followed by Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) in 11th place.

The solo sailors will now face "upwind conditions that could last 250 miles" explains Nicolas Bérenger, the experienced Figaro sailor converted to trainer, of a number of the 2011 edition competitors.  "It's going to be very technical. They must keep up the speed and make sure they reach Barfleur before the tide changes" at 23:00 tonight, continues
Bérenger.  The low pressure system that is due to sweep over the fleet tonight is forecast to bring 25 knots, with gusts of up to 35.  "The passage of the front we will get tonight over the Cotentin coastline, is going to be tough.  We should get the most wind on the approach to Guernsey but it is the passage at the raz Blanchard where we are going to have to take special care because it is where you get the strongest current in France", muses Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Bûches) just before the start.  "The interesting part of the first 24 hours of the race will be the passages of Barfleur and then the Cherbourg peninsula which you need to get right", agrees Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics).

Please check latest position reports on www.lasolitaire.com

Quotes from the skippers prior to the start of the second leg:

Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) ready for the start of leg 2
Leg 2 is probably 100 miles longer than leg one and it is probably going to be to be upwind as well, so could take three days really.  I have taken a lot of food and a lot of tea, just to keep my spirits going!  Granny's fruit cake is coming with me and that is going to be very good ballast, much needed ballast for maximum righting moment upwind.  It has been really quite relaxing in Caen.  I have managed to get things done gradually as we had quid a few days as opposed to it being chaotically at the last minute.  It is a beautiful city to be in, the fact that we were right in the centre with the boats is quite incredible really."

Nigel King (E-Line Orthodonitics) talks just before the start
"The morning before the start I mainly need to concentrate on and check the weather.  We should have fun for the start of the race with the inshore course in the Bay.  Then the interesting part of the first 24 hours of the race will be the passages of Barfleur and then the Cherbourg peninsula which you need to get right.  There is strong current there and you really need to get passed before the tide turns.  The later you get there the worse it will be.
For my trip I am taking some "Eat Natural" cereal bars, apparently the healthiest ones!  I really just want to enjoy the leg and not se myself any targets and just to enjoy the leg, sail well and not worry about the result."

Nicolas Bérenger, seven participations in La Solitaire du Figaro, in Caen, where he now runs a group of competitors ...
Talks about what the feelings are among the sailors he trains on the morning before the start: "In general, it is always a bit difficult to wake up. Whatever the conditions expected are, you still get exited.  The muscles might be a bit stiff and especially knowing that it is going to that you head out into into what is going to be t and cold you just might stay in bed that little bit longer, sit and enjoy the breakfast a few more minutes...
The leg in a few words: "It's close, the close and still close. The upwind conditions could last 250 miles. It's going to be very technical. They must keep up the speed and make sure they teach Barfleur before the tide changes and be alert and prepared for the wind rotation.  The last point is the passage of the ridge heading up to the Irish Sea, which will need to be handled well in order to maximise and not get left behind.  This is going to be a very a complete and tough leg."

Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Bûches) summarises the conditions for the second leg:
"Weather forecasts confirmed: there will be plenty of wind and strong seas and it is going to be a matter of upwind sailing pretty much all the way to the western tip of Cornwall. It is going to be full on and although we have all been preparing for this over the past few days, the passage of the front we expect t tonight over the Cotentin coastline, is going to be tough.  We should get the most wind on the approach to Guernsey but it is the passage at the raz Blanchard that we are going to have to take special care because it is where you get the strongest current in France.  We will be sailing at night, upwind against the current and in strong wind conditions all whilst keeping a very close eye on our screens to sail round the rocks.  We could see some gaps build on the crossing of the Channel and where the lateral distance will also build.  Towards the end of the race the ridge and low breeze will need careful negotiation before the long spinnaker run, in a good breeze to the finish.  There is lots of opportunities to make the most of and I foresee a lot of helming and careful boat handling in the rough conditions.

Fred Duthil (Sepalumic) "gives me confidence"
"Compared to what happened on the first stage (note. penalty by one hour), I have no choice but to tell myself that we must start from scratch and that things can be done.  This leg looks like it is going to be windy with some very complicated passages.  One particularly dangerous one is at the Raz Blanchard.  I think we could see some boats in trouble there and therefore see some gaps build.  We have to sail carefully and be vigilant.  When you sail on a direct course in the strong win, it is fine, but then trying to get round rocky areas in 30 to 35 knots of wind at night with rain, you feel a little less confident.  The leg is long and there will be opportunities later on after the Channel crossing when further gaps could be built and where the fleet could also compress.  I am going to be careful on this leg and try and do well to finish in the top five."

Arnaud Philippe Godard (Senoble) 43rd the first stage of the race: "This leg is completely different from the first: windy, upwind racing and rough seas...Then the wind will ease off after rounding the tip of Cornwall and we will have to negotiate getting across ridge with light winds.  You really want to be up with the leaders ere because the last run could be a spinnaker run with a fresh South Westerly breeze up the Irish Sea.  We are going to just have to be alert and react well to the change of conditions on the water.

Note: Tidal seas and straits
When we speak about the raz in French, we refer to the strong tidal current between two areas of land.  The straits through which this tidal current passes is at its strongest at the peak of the high and low tides.  In France there are two important straits with very strong tidal current: the Sein strait, or "raz de Sein" as the French refer to it, and the raz Blanchard on the tip of the Cherbourg peninsula or Cap de la Hague.  The name Blanchard comes from the rough and white sea spray that covers the straits when the sea is choppy.  The current can be up to 12 knots near the Hague lighthouse on a spring tide (over 110 coefficient) and 6 knots in the slack water of the neap tide, which we have today.  The Figaro sailors will therefore have the choice of either sailing further offshore to get the least tidal current or close to coastline at the tip of the Cherbourg peninsula to avoid the strong current at the Gros du Raz

Published in Figaro
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The second leg of the four stage La Solitaire du Figaro race starts tomorrow from Caen in Normandy to Dún Laoghaire harbour just outside Dublin in Ireland. The 47 solo sailors will set off at 16:00 local French time on the 470-mile race with key points of passage, in what forecasts show will be strong conditions for a mainly upwind leg to Ireland.  Final briefings, routing strategy, food storage and equipment are being done in Caen the day before the start.

Figarosailors

The skippers of La Solitaire du Figaro in the Cloître de l'Abbaye Aux Hommes in Caen Photo: Courcoux/Marmara

The course to Ireland will see the fleet cover the first forty-six miles of the race on potentially reaching conditions up to Barfleur in 10 to 12 knots of South-westerly winds.  "Conditions are forecast to freshen up over the course of the evening and we could see 25 knots with gusts of up to 35 at the Cap de la Hague, where we have decided to put in a mark at La Plate tower to avoid the sailors getting too close the rocks which are not all shown on many charts" explains race Director Jacques Caraës. The fleet then head down the Gros du Raz and leave Alderney to starboard on the run past Herm Island, then round Guernsey on starboard.  "The reason we have set Guernsey to starboard is to keep the fleet out of the busy shipping lanes further north into the Channel," continues Caraës.  The wind is forecast to veer round to the North as the fleet will make headway up the Channel towards Lands Ends, 122 miles away.  The conditions should remain fresh at 20 knots, gusting 30 for this part of the race and then ease on Tuesday as the breeze will back round to West, Southwest for the final miles to the finish in Dún Laoghaire, 205 miles away from Land Ends.

Interestingly, the effects of a system of low pressure approaching over North West of Ireland on Wednesday could shake up positions and see the fleet compress on the final approach, as the breeze is likely to be felt first by those at the back end  "Two miles from the finish, we have marked that Mullins Island must be left to port in order to avoid the busy fishing area" concludes Jacques who estimates the arrival of the boats in Ireland on Wednesday.

Experience, together with physical endurance will really count for the Figaro sailors, as they face strong upwind sailing conditions for the first two days of racing , fitness and mental alertness to then tackle the final sprint up the St. George's Channel, navigate the numerous sand banks along the Irish coastline, and possibly then have to sail under spinnaker to the finish in Dún Laoghaire.

Quotes from the skippers on the eve of the start of the race from Caen to Ireland
Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham) – current race leader: "The fight will be tough"
"I have reconfigured the set up on the boat for this next leg.  It is perfect, the refuelling is done, everything is ready to go.  Now I am looking at the weather to see how to set the ballast.  We have the right to carry 100 kg of material over a 20 litre container at the foot of the mast that can be filled.  On each leg we decide what we want to do, depending on the weather.  For the first, it was just over 60 kg on board.  I wanted to be light.  I left with the clothes I had on and a set of oilskins, nothing else, not even a fleece.  For the second leg, if you want to be heavy, you can take a dry suit, fleeces, three sets of oilskins... there will be lots to be able to get changed into! On this kind of leg you could see less options, as those who are used to strong conditions and like to work hard at the helm should get along fine.  It is going to be a tough leg where you need to be good technically, handle the boat well and most likely are going to wear yourself out.  We will also spend over three night at sea, sleep management is important, as is knowing how to deal with the pilot.  Those who have experience of sailing on the Figaro will definitely shine out.  People like Gildas Morvan, he is known for his ability in strong conditions.  I am going to hang in there and try to not get done over.  We are like sea wolves...the fangs are out...the fight will be tough!"

Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert): "Upwind sailing is pure happiness"
"I had a good workout a month ago in the Mistral and Tramontana.  I won two races in 25 knots so that is where I do well.  It is quite usual that on a sail up to Ireland, conditions are often strong and it tends to be upwind.  So psychologically, your mind is already prepared.  Not wishing to be overly confident and boastful, but these are conditions I like, I feel at ease in and that the boat performs the best in.  My grandfather loved it and my son loves it... I'll tell you: upwind sailing is pure happiness! "

Francisco Lobato (Roff) 36th on the first leg
"I prefer downwind to upwind sailing when it is windy.  There are three legs to go and I have mucked up the first, now I have to remain consistent and in contact with the leaders.  On the reach we could see small groups forming who will then separate on the upwind beat, some will prefer to head towards the English coastline and others further out into the Channel.  There will no way of controlling all the boats so it will be a matter of really choosing well the bunch to sail with."

Sylvain Mondon, Artemis and CEM weather support from Meteo-France :
"Rainy weather with moderately strong SW winds to begin with, veering NW later in the West part of the English Channel. It will be quite windy for English Channel crossing in the very first hours of the leg will be only 15-20 knots, but increasing very quickly after Barfleur."

Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence):
"It looks pretty hideous, it's going to be North-West, probably 30 knots, gusting more around headlands and there will be a 4-5 metre swell as well as that...It's going to be a pretty tough leg."

Conrad Humphreys (DMS):
"The main challenge for this one is going to be the strength of the wind off Barfleur and around Cherbourg and probably limiting some damage around the Alderney part of the race. The second big challenge will be this ridge of high pressure and how dominant it becomes in the Irish Sea."

Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics):
"So, the course for leg 2 is we leave Caen on Sunday early evening and then we head around Barfleur and Cherbourg peninsula. Leave Alderney to starboard, Guernsey to starboard and then head off to Land's End and then straight up to Dún Laoghaire,  It will be good to have some decent breeze, we haven't sailed in a lot of breeze all year so I think it will be nice for us to have some strong winds. Historically in the strong winds I've always done all right. So hopefully I can settle down into the race. It will be nice to be getting a bit of a kicking rather than wondering when the next puff is going to come along."

Sam Goodchild (Artemis):
"It's going to be a mix of everything - upwind, downwind, strong wind, light wind. The whole of the second leg is a challenge, there's no specific challenge. The entire race is a challenge, that's why we are here."



Published in Figaro
Over the course of the first leg there is the sport of sailing and competition on the water to talk about.  There is however, a life at sea we only find out about once the sailors relax and are back to fill you in on the ups and downs of their race and the little things that go on that are unusual, surprising, encouraging or just plain funny at times.  We rarely get to hear about them so we catch up with a few taken off guard before they start focusing on preparing their weather and strategy for the next leg to Dun Laoghaire in Ireland.

Olympic visit
"Off Portland Bill, sailing along the south coast of England, we were surprised to see a rib zipping up to see us. There was Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron (from the French 470 sailing team) who are training in Weymouth, for the next Olympic games. They were with their coach, Philippe Gildas. It was fun to see them, they are from Le Havre and me too.  I used to know them when I was sailing in 420.
Charlie Dalin (Keopsys)

Anchoring a rock
"In the Raz Blanchard, I anchored, but after about five minutes, I told myself it was silly. So I pulled up the 130 metre rope and then with very sore hands finally hauled the anchor up only to find a rock on the end. I thought it was a bit heavy!
Alexis Loison (Port de Chantereyne Cherbourg-Octeville)

Enjoying the cricket
Whilst sailing along the South Coast I managed to pick up BBC Radio 4 and Radio 5 on by SSB receiver and managed to hear the winning delivery for the last Indian to be bowled out in the 2nd Test Match.  It was perfect as I connected a lead to my stereo, which plays out on deck and could follow most of the 4th day of the test match against India which England won.
Nigel King (E.Line Orthodontics)

Sunbathing
I was sailing along the South Coast of England by St. Alban when there was a 200 metre long rock with bunch of English tourists having a sunbathe. There was even a guy doing rock climbing on the cliff.  We sailed in really close and they all waved and cheered us on.  It made me want to go and have a swim too!"
Loïc Le Garrec (Taste of events)

Birthday with a Minister
"Usually, on July 31, my birthday, I am all alone at sea sailing on a leg of the Solitaire. This year, it happened to fall on the start day in Perros-Guirec. To celebrate, I was on the pontoons and got to kiss the Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko Morizet, being watched over by her slightly worried bodyguard!"
Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert)

The Afghan hound
There I was sailing along under spinnaker when suddenly I look over and see a gigantic furry thing.  It was a big bunch of seaweed, but looked just like a huge afghan dog and it was caught up in my rudder.  It must have taken at least 10 minutes of pulling at it all to get it off.  Conrad Humphreys (DMS)

Unlucky sunglasses
"During the pre-season races, I accumulated problems, loads of problems: electrics failure, torn spinnaker and a number of silly issues. I am not superstitious but I started to have doubts about  whether it did not come down to there being an object on board that brought bad luck. I think I have found out what it is, because I had no bad luck on the first leg.  It has to be the sunglasses with hairy side-burns a friend gave me.  That is it, they are not coming back on the boat ever again!"
Anthony Marchand (Espoir Crédit Mutuel).

Flying water
The race management makes us take 10 litres of water with us on the leg.  There I was packing away my spinnaker, bent over the bag in which I went and packed away a stray bottle by accident.  I got quite a surprise when I hoisted the spinnaker next to see the bottle flying into the water.  I ended up at the finish in Caen thirsty and with a nasty headache.
Yannig Livory (One Energy Network)

Wrapping the anchor round the keel
"I never anchored in Figaro and the problem is not to dropping anchor, but hauling it back up! I did it from textbook, hauling in the anchor from the pulpit and then after about half an hour of pulling up 90 metres, the anchor gets wrapped around the keel. I thought I would have to go and dive in at 6 am to clear it in four knots of current.  Thankfully I managed to get it unwrapped and saved a swim!"
Damien Guillou (Solidarity Mutualiste)

The mutant fish
"In the Bay of Seine, I came across something I had never seen in my life.  I was clearing up seaweed stuck in my rudder as it passed beside me, right on the waters surface. I was a white and red or rather pink fish with a really big head.  A normal fish but with monstrous cheeks.  As the Bay of Seine is a rather dirty place, I thought that maybe it was a kind of mutant fish!"
Eric Peron (Macif 2009)

The punch that stops you dead in your tracks
"When I had to anchor at the raz Blanchard, there was 60 meters of depth and although I had let out 120 metres of rope, the anchor just would not hold.  I got really annoyed and just punched the deck and then suddenly the boat came to a standstill.  The anchor had stuck!"
Frédéric Rivet (Vendée1)

Clearly identifiable floating object
"I hit a pot.  It was on the approach to England, a few miles before Hand Deeps, in the shipping lanes. I was inside when suddenly I heard a funny noise. When I came on deck, I saw that the floating thing was a sort of large metal bowl. Perhaps chucked out of the kitchen of a cargo boat?"
Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Bûches)

CLS Prize for the most places caught up
The CLS rankings is a prize that is awarded for the best progress between the passage of the Radio France buoy (just outside Perros-Guirec) and the finish line in Ouistreham. It was Laurent Pellecuer (Atelier d'architecture JP Monier) who overtook the most boats, climbing 39 places followed by Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) with 34 boats and then by Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) with 31 boats. Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) is the rookie to have climbed up the most spaces in the fleet, 19 in total.

Phil Sharp is voted "Sailor of the Month"
Phil Sharp sailing on The Spirit of Independence has been voted Sailor of the Month by the public in the August issue of Seahorse magazine. Congratulations Phil

Published in Figaro
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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

At 13:14:36 on Tuesday 2nd of August, Fabien Delahaye crossed the finish line to win the first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro between Perros-Guirec and Caen in first place.  The Normandy skipper sailing on Port Caen Ouistreham took just over 2 days, or 50 hours 14 minutes and 36 seconds, at an average 5.83 miles an hour to cover the 293.1 miles course that was full of surprises. The final stages of the race were played out overnight on Monday in the light conditions and currents off the Cotentin coastline.  Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert), the highly experienced Figaro sailor, finished just behind to take the second place whilst Jean Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) takes third to complete the podium.  Xavier Macaire (Starter Active Bridge) comes in first rookie in 5th place, barely a minute ahead of Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence), the first British sailor to finish, crossing the line in 7th and just 15 minutes and 4 seconds behind the leader.  The first thirty skippers to cross the finish line are within an 60-minute time deficit on the leader.

The first leg win goes to a native Normandy sailor, Fabien Delahaye (he lives in Caen). At only 27, this  fresh -faced  blond man with piercing blue eyes wins his first ever leg on on a  Solitaire race.  In 2009, Fabien made his mark on the Figaro by winning the rookie or newcomer rankings.  Over the past two participations Fabien has improved thanks to his very methodical work, clear mindset and is regarded as one of the young hopefuls who will set their mark on La Solitare du Figaro race.  This win at home could be the first of more to come.

On the finish line in Ouistreham, the tension was palpable as nothing had been decided and all was to play for over the final miles of the race.  The very low and variable wind direction together with the 2 knots of current from the tides brought the fleet back together.  Fabien managed to control his opponents and beat them to the finish over the final miles of the race. Seasoned sailors, Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) and Jean Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The first rookie to finish, a mere 14 minutes behind the winner in 5th place is Xavier Macaire (Starter Active Bridge) being pursued by Britain's Phil Sharp on Spirit of Independence, who finishes 7th overall and just under a minute behind the first rookie.  The Franco-German sailor, Isabelle Joschke shines out for her consistency on the leg; she finishes 15th and 40 minutes from the winner.  Conrad Humphreys (DMS) from Plymouth finished in 22nd place and 45 minutes from the leader.  The turnig tide and dropping breeze have made it a real struggle for the second half of the fleet.  Portugal's Francisco Lobato finishes 36th at 16:30:35, whilst Nigel King from Lymington, sailing on E-Line Orthodontics finishes in 39th at 17:09:28.  The British  sailor, Sam Goodchild (Artemis), youngest competitor this season, crossed the line at 18:36:47 in 45th place.

Quotes from the skippers upon crossing the finish line in Caen:
Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) winner in Ouistreham-Caen
This is the first time I win a leg and to top it off I do it at home!  Last night was key for the race.  You really had to keep on top of things and position yourself well and I just grabbed any opportunity that came my way.  I managed to position myself well throughout the race, except maybe at the passage at Portland Bill, which I found difficult.  Then I managed to climb back up to the leading pack on the return Channel crossing with Gildas Morvan and then built my lead after the Cussy cardinal mark.  When everyone had to anchor this morning to avoid going backwards in the current I had 48 metres of depth so just had to fight it out and look for the puffs of wind.  This is probably played in my favour as I managed to get away, so I would not say that it was just a matter of knowing my home waters!"

Gildas Movan (Cercle Vert) – Second in Caen and 11 minutes and 9 seconds behind the leader
The whole first leg has been really quite tough because although we had a nice first night sailing under spinnaker to cross the Channel, it has been nothing but easy.  From Hands Deep the wind would just come and go and then it just got really soft.  It was a matter of constantly having to gybe and do manoevers.  The worst bit must have been last night as we were crossing the Channel and the wind just completely dropped and went all over the place.  I tried to hang on with the spinnaker up because the minute you go and anchor it takes forever to get started again.  I then hooked on to a thread of breeze that got me off on the approach to Cussy, the same one Fabien grabbed on to and then the tide was favourable and the wind picked up.  If you look at the time deficit I have on the winner it is not all that much, but then each and every minute counts!"

Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) – third place on the first leg Perros-Guirec to Caen:
"What a leg! There were so many pitfalls and you just had to be constantly on guard to not get caught out.  When you look at the course on paper it seems easy, but then doing it is something else.  I am shattered and found it so hard to mange my sleep.  It was snakes and ladders, each time I nodded off I would loose ground, so would have to work my way back up and fight against the exhaustion.  It has not been the easiest way of getting in to the race, but then last night everything just went like a dream...I managed to get away whilst everyone else was just stuck.  I have managed to limit the time deficit on the leader by just a few minutes so am really happy."

Xavier Macaire (Starter Active Bridge), 5th overall and first rookie:
"I had a great climb up the fleet last night which all started from the Fairway mark.  I did some good gybes and I must say that Phil Sharp set the bar very high for the rookie rankings.  I had to get after him.  I did have to anchor last night, but it just would not hold, so just fought against drifting too much.  Finishing in this position is just fantastic and I am so pleased.  I had set myself the target of getting to be among the top three in the rookie ranking, so that is a good start.  This is just an amazing event with 47 great sailors, wonderful organisation and to have the French naval ship, PSP Cormorant with us, is a real honour."

Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence), 7th overall, 15 minutes and 4 seconds behind the winner and first Briton to finish:  "I'm feeling great, It's kind of incredible really, the whole race, I didn't expect to be so near the front and tussling with some of these top guys. I've learnt so much., it's been incredible excitement all the way through.  I'm so pleased to have got my first decent Figaro result.  Top 10 was way above my expectations you know. Consistency is the name of the game but it's always great to have one result. It's going to be hard to keep getting top ten's now!"

Conrad Humphreys (DMS):  "It was an incredible race, it had everything in it, absolutely everything, from calms to some good wind, lots of sail changes and the fleet were so close all the time. I don't think the first twenty boats were ever more than three miles apart.  I didn't sleep very much this race and I think it caught up with me on the last day. It's difficult to get into a routine in this race and I think for the next leg I need to be a little more disciplined about my sleep."

Francisco Lobato (ROFF), 36th overall and with a 3 hour and 15 minute time deficit on the leader
"I was doing ok from the start and then just lost contact with the leading pack along the South coast of England.  Those following hours were tough because you end up doing radical things to try and catch up and I got caught out in Lyme Bay and then just lost further ground.  It has helped me see where I need to improve, but honestly I know I can be there and improve for the next events.  On the positive side, I am really happy with the manoevers and general boat speed."

Published in Figaro
Thirty hours into racing on the first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro, 320-miles from Perros-Guirec in Northern Brittany to Caen,  lower Normandy, and the leaders are positioned just 5 miles from Fairways, off the Needles, on the western tip of the Isle of Wight fighting against the tidal current. 

The race stops in Dun Laoghaire Ireland from August 12th, the only foreig stop over of the circuit.

Thomas Rouxel (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance), moves into the lead ahead of his two closest rivals, Nicolas Lunven (Generali) and Jérémy Beyou (BPI), in what has been a cat and mouse game for the pole position since yesterday's start.  Britain's Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence) punches his way up to 6th place overall and leads the rookies on their first Solitaire race.  What remains to be seen is if the light easterly thermal breeze will hold up for the sailors as they battle against the strong tidal current to get round the Fairways mark for the Southerly course back across the Channel to Caen.

The light conditions for Sunday morning's start gave way to moderate southerly breeze to allow the 47 competitors a Channel crossing towards Plymouth and the Hands Deep course mark under spinnaker in relatively good 7 to 8 knots pace.  The fleet then made the most of the favourable tide on the run along the South coast of England, where the sailors each chose how best to negotiate rounding the various headlands and associated current on course for the Fairways.  The wind gradually died out this afternoon just off Anvil point ,12 miles from the turning point, leaving the skippers the choice of either attempting to fight their way against the 3 knots of tidal current and dying breeze or dropping anchor to sit it out until the tide turns.

The leaders (Rouxel, Lunven, Beyou) on the direct heading are followed by a group made up of Eric Drouglazet (Luisina), Fred Duthil (Sepalumic), Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) and rookie sailor, Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence).  Further north, a breakaway group looking for the shelter of Poole Harbour and hoping for a thermal breeze to propel them round the Fairways and into the favourable current is made up of Laurent Pellecuer (Atelier d'architecture JP Monier), Frédéric Rivet (Vendée 1), Morgan Lagravière (Vendée), Charlie Dalin (Keopsys) and Jean-Pierre Nicols (Bernard Controls).  If their gamble does not pay off, they could pay with a costly time deficit on the leaders.  Others have opted for more southerly and offshore course in the hope that a veering wind could provide a good angle of approach to the mark, but for now Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat), Etienne Svilarich (Volkswagen Think Blue) and Alexis Loison (Port Chantereyne-Cherbourg-Octeville) can just hope as they see themselves fall back on the position reports.

The situation is not so clear for the sailors, led by Michel Bothuon (Les recycleurs bretons), who have not passed Anvil Point, where the tidal effects are strong.  Sam Goodchild (Artemis), Francisco Lobato (ROFF) and Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) caught up in this bunch can only hope that the leaders are forced to drop anchor to reduce the distance.

Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence) from Jersey has made an astounding climb over the course of the last 24 hours, having started in the bottom half of the fleet, he is now well positioned 1.1 miles behind the leading trio in 6th place overall behind Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) and is currently heading the rookie rankings.  Phil has gradually progressed and moved his way up the fleet opting for a more offshore course just south of the rhumb line and is well placed to round the Fairways mark, just 5 miles away at 15:30.  Devon's Conrad Humphreys (DMS) stays within reach of the leaders at just 2.2 miles in 18th place.

British skipper, Sam Goodchild (Artemis), enjoyed a brilliant start in Perros Guirec on Sunday, to round the first course mark in 7th place, holding on the the race leaders throughout the day. This morning the Race Committee reported that Sam had torn his spinnaker, which would explain the loss of ground on the lead and his current  41st place and 9.4 mile deficit on the leaders.

Weather conditions have been better than anticipated since Sunday's start in Perros Guirec, allowing for the solo sailors to keep up a pace that could see them arriving into Caen from Tuesday afternoon.

Skipper's quotes over the VHF today:
Eric Drouglazet (Luisina):"We could well be anchored about ten miles from the Fairway buoy. I did not sleep all that much last night, so have not sailed all that badly. The leading boats are going to get round the next mark with the favourable current, but for those left behind it is only get to get worse and worse..."

Paul Meilhat (Macif 2011): "This is a beautiful leg with a lots of chances. And there will be more to come! It's a bit like having a fresh start, this passage from Portland Bill.We had light conditions and everyone came back from behind. I am very happy right now and everything is going well...I have good boat speed. I have been playing it bit by bit and think I'll try to continue with this strategy. I'm in shorts and a T-shirt: it's very nice after night in the drizzle. But there will be another difficult night. As soon as the thermal wind is going drops we are just going to come to a standstill..."

Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert): "It was not all that great at the start.  Then I managed to get back by sailing well up to Hand Deeps.  Overnight got in too close to shore.  It was not a good idea trying to go in close round Start Point.  Now, I have come back a pit on round Portland Bill further out.  For now we have 8 knots from the West, but it is is going to drop and it is going t be really very painful getting the turning tide at the Needles!"

Thomas Rouxel (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance): "There is a real battle going on with the three of us, Jérémy Beyou, Nicolas Lunven and myself.  All is going well but it is not over yet!  We are making slow progress with the wind we have, but from 14:00 onwards we should have the current against us to deal with too.  I think that it is going to be complicated and a whole lot of things could happen..."

Isabelle Joschke (Galettes Saint Michel): "For me, I see that there has been a turnaround. The first group was caught in the calm. A large group came back on this leader group. We are all under spinnaker, the wind is getting up in the bright sunshine and flat seas: it's very nice. The first night is always difficult to rest. I had a few naps and I ate well. It's hard to let go of the pressure because we are all in contact. I'll try to go take a nap now that the wind is established and before it once again becomes complicated. We will find ourselves facing the current to get passed the Isle of Wight. If we are forced to anchor, where I am, there a 30 metres of depth... It will not be very nice!"

Morgan Lagravière (Vendée):"I had a good first 24 hours and then about two hours ago mucked up the getting passed the transition area which needed special care and managed to loose quite a few places.  Not easy to decide on which position to take but I am feeling good in terms of keeping up the pace.   I  am annoyed with myself and so will have to work out my anger and climb my way back up the fleet."

Official opening of the Race Village in Caen at 17:00 local time
The official opening of the village of La Solitaire du Figaro Eric Bompard Cashmere in Caen will be held at 17:00 in the presence of Philippe Duron, Mayor of Caen and president of the Urban Community Caen la mer, Laurent Beauvais, President of the Region lower Normandy and Jean-Léonce Dupont, Chairman of the General Council of Calvados.

Published in Figaro

The 42nd edition of La Solitaire du Figaro race got off to a good start on Sunday in Perros Guirec, despite the light five-knot westerly breeze and unusual downwind start.  Hundreds of fans lined the cliffs and crowded onto the many spectator boats to see the fleet of Figaro sailors set off on the first 320-mile leg of the four stage month long race. 

Treated to a colourful downwind spinnaker start at 11 am, which was fired by Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the French Minister for the Environment, the crowds watched on as the fleet headed off to the first mark blanketed by a curtain of mist and haze.

The fleet is headed for Dun Laoghaire and a special festival is planned around the fleets arrival on August 12th. The local council has installed a special marina to greet the fleet who will be based at the Carlise pier in front of the National Yacht Club.

In conjunction with Alliance Francaise the National Yacht Club will hold a reception on Friday 12th August to celebrate the stopover.

Nicolas Lunven (Generali), winner of the 2009 edition, reached the Radio France mark first, two miles into the race, followed by Thomas Rouxel (Bretagne-Credit Mutuel Performance) and Eric Drouglazet's shocking pink Luisina spinnaker rounding in third.  Sam Goodchild (Artemis), the first British entry and youngest competitor as well as first sailor rookie, rounding in seventh.  Notably Isabelle Joschke (Galettes Saint Michel), the Franco-German sailor competing on her fourth Solitaire with a new sponsor, fought her way out of the busy start line and rounded in sixth place.

Spinnakers were swiftly packed away and genoas raised to sail with care round, leaving to starboard the rocks at the the Seven Islands or Sept Iles plateau, before the 90 mile crossing of the English Channel to Hands Deep, the next waypoint, in Plymouth Sound.  It looks like the fleet will have a dark first night with little moonlight and a low gradient breeze as the damp and light front travels across the Channel from West to East and dies out on the approach to the southern English coastline.  Rounding the next point of passage at Hands Deep buoy off Plymouth could be further complicated by the turning tide at 07:00.

Follow the progress the skippers make with the position reports and rankings will from 16:00 local French time, updated 5 times a day and are available on www.lasolitaire.com.

Sam Goodchild (Artemis) before the start in Perros Guirec:
"The weather forecasts look slightly better this morning, so I think we could have a bit of breeze for the start.  I am going to focus on keeping up with the fleet, but that is not to say that I will not do my own thing.  I do not agnate to take major risks and finish in Caen six hours behind the leader having to play catch up for the rest of the race.  There are four Brits, so it would be nice to beat them and a few French too!  The main thing I need to try and manage is sleep well balance the timing and not sleep too much or too little.  For some good luck and energy I have my special Grenada Chocolate Company bar!"
Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics):"This is the first Figaro race start without my wife, so it is a bit strange, but hopefully together with a bunch of friends she can come and see the boats sail past Fairway at the Needles.  Looking forward to starting and getting off now.  Not got any special snacks on board, just lots of green apples! "
Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence) being seen off by his father, :"Ready now to get racing and taking my granny's special "go fast" fruit cake.  I have a quarter for each leg and it is enormously good and keeps the morale going. The pressure is on to do well, but I am feeling driven."
Conrad Humphreys (DMS): "I always get a little nervous before starts. Probably, in many ways more so for this race because it is so intense and the competition is all around you, whereas for a Transatlantic it's a different set of pressure."

Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) upon leaving the dock this morning in Perros-Guirec: "I slept very well! Given the conditions we have to start, I am not going to get stressed at this point. On the contrary, I am feeling quite serene. It is going to be calm, but the stress will be trying to be up at the front from the start and then things will be ok.  I am not worried about the calm conditions so long as the boat is moving.  If we end up going backwards, then it is not going to be much fun!  I just really want to do well this year.  That is pretty much how I am feeling before today's start."

Eric Drouglazet (Luisina) on his 19th participation speaks before the start: "This first leg is not looking all that clear, the conditions are not all that endearing!  When you train all winter in windy conditions you get to be good at boat handling.  When you have such light conditions, it does not come down to how you handle and anyone can do well.  The rookies and young ones can do well.  There should also be lots of seaweed, which again raised the uncertainty.  The English coastline is going to be the toughest part and we will all find out pretty quick who handles it best.  We could see puffs of wind just a few metres away allowing for some getaways and gaps to build.  So having a good handle and understanding the weather will be key.  It is likely we will have to anchor as the tidal coefficients are so high."
Yannig Livory (One Network Energy): "It is not going to be too windy out there!  The weather forecasts are not all that clear and the tides have a big coefficient...There are lots of people here who want to win this first leg.  The most complicated thing is going to be sailing along the South coast of England because there are a number of headlands to round.  There won't be much time for sleep, but then there should be just three nights at sea."

Published in Figaro

UK sailor Nigel King who recently finished a creditable second place overall in the Transmanche Race sailing his Figaro class yacht – E-line Orthodontics – is currently competing in the Transatlantic Race aboard Chris Bull's Cookson 50, Jazz writes Sue Pelling.

King's recent success in the highly competitive Figaro class, was just the sort of result he was looking for in the run up to the Solitaire du Figaro – the key event on the Figaro circuit – which starts in less than a month's time (29 July).

King will be sailing into Dun Laoghaire when the Figaro race stops here in August.

As a passionate, and particularly versatile sailor who manages to compete equally well solo or in a team, King's aim as skipper of Jazz in the Transatlantic Race is to ensure the yacht obtains the best possible result for owner Chris Bull, who had to pull out the race to attend his son's wedding.

Speaking from the dockside in Newport Rhode Island just before he started the Transatlantic Race earlier today King said: "Chris is a very active sailing owner, so for him not to be here for this race is a big thing. What is even more significant is the fact that he is allowing us to race his boat without him. We as a team all recognise we are pretty fortunate to have an owner who puts his trust in us entirely, so we really need to make sure we deliver on results, and getting the boat across the Atlantic safely."

King, who is skippering Jazz, will be working closely alongside Mike Broughton (navigator) and Christian Rippard (principal helmsman) during the 2,975-nautical mile race from Newport Rhode Island to Lizard Point, England. Other members of the team include Anthony (Ski) Haines (boat captain), and a selection of Australians who, according to King, are a great bunch of guys. "They are really hardworking and into their sailing and ultra competitive. They all work well together which means we have a really good team onboard."

The Transatlantic Race is a key event in the seven-race Atlantic Ocean Racing Series, which means to qualify for the series; at least three races must be completed including the Transatlantic Race. Having completed two races already this season – the RORC Caribbean 600, and the Annapolis to Newport Race – Team Jazz is looking forward to a respectable result in her third, qualifying race. Speaking realistically about what lies ahead, King said: "I am not a great believer in saying 'we are going out there to win'. If you go out there with nothing but a win as your goal, you focus so much on that you forget to sail properly. We've talked about how we want to perform and that is to sail to the highest level we can and hope that, if we make all the right choices and minimise our mistakes, the result will come."

King estimates a 14-day crossing depending on the conditions. According to the forecast the first few days could bring a light to moderate south-westerly breeze. King added: "There's a bit of a front coming through which is kind of messing the picture up a bit but we could have a few days of potentially 10-15kts, maybe slightly more spinnaker running as we go up the coast to Nova Scotia depending on whether we take a southern or northern route."

Once they cross the finish line at the Lizard, the team will have a 24-hour delivery trip back to Cowes for the prizegiving event at the Royal Yacht Squadron. For King however, it will be a case of jumping ship again, this time back onboard his Figaro – E-line Orthodontics – where he'll sail back to his home in Lymington before heading straight across the Channel to Perros-Guirec, France for the start of the Solitaire du Figaro.

Published in Figaro
Page 8 of 9

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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