Saturday, July 30th 2011
A race againts the tides
Whilst just 160 nautical miles separate Perros-Guirec in Northern Brittany from Caen in Normandy, the first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro will run 320 miles from start to finish. The fleet of 47 Figaro sailors are set to start on Sunday 31st July at 11:00 on a course that sees the fleet across the Channel to Plymouth Bay, then eastwards along the south coast of England to Fairway Boy off the West of the Isle of Wight before the return channel crossing to the finish in Caen. The forecast light wind together with the strong tidal coefficient for the coming days has led the Race Committee to leave out one of the early mark, close the the pink granite Armor coastline. Whilst the 320 mile leg is the shortest of the 42nd edition of the race, it is likely to complex to sail.
The general consternation among the sailors is going to be how best to negotiate the strong current and tidal effects together with the light winds predicted for the race and how to limit the loss of ground to these and fellow competitors to a minimum. It will be a matter of keeping guard and grabbing each and every opportunity to make gains. "Anything could happen on this leg" explained Romain Attanasio (Saveol) at this morning's Eric Bompard Prologue prize giving. "I remember that in 2004 I got stuck and had to anchor in Portland Bay. Everyone else got past except for me. I was stuck in turning tidal currents. It was awful…and will not forget that for the rest of my life! I am going to avoid that at all costs." What paradoxically is the shorts leg of the four stage month long regatta, could be the longest spent at sea.
The Race Director of La Solitaire du Figaro race, Jacques Caraës explained that there will be a slight change to the course of the first leg between Perros Guirec and Caen due to the light wind conditions and Sunday's tidal coefficient. The change will apply in order to avoid the sailors having to spend the first 10 to 12 hours of the race stuck close to the Armor coastline.
"The first mark, the "Roche Gautier" cardinal, north east of Perros Guirec, has been removed from the course. The solo sailors will therefore head direct to the Radio France mark. Note that the start will be on a fixed position; the line will be set perpendicular to the axis of the buoy and not in relation to the axis of wind." Continued Caraës.
In other words, we could see boats crossing the start line under spinnaker, which would not be traditional for a start. The remainder of the route continues as previously planned: across the Channel towards the English coastline, along which two marks to be left to starboard, Hand Deeps at the entrance to Plymouth Bay and then a hundred miles further east, the Fairway buoy (western tip of the Isle of Wight). before the return crossing across the Channel to the finish in the Bay of Caen.
In total, the length of the course (320 miles) remains the same. The current ETA estimates the first arrival for around noon Wednesday, August 3.
This first leg, the shortest of the four on paper, may be, paradoxically, the longest at sea!
Nicolas Lunven (Generali) on his 5th participation and winner in 2009: "We are going to have to put the sun cream on for this first leg and most likely prepare the anchor…The good thing is that we get the race started in gentle conditions and should not break anything. Things should be safe unless we hit the rocks off Perros! Sometimes it is easy to sail in 25 knots than 5. Especially here in the Channel where there is a lot of current, and tidal coefficient. We are all in the same boat though so we will just have to try harder to find our way out and be more clever than the next. It is not going to be an easy leg and at the end I think we could see quite big gaps built at the finish in Caen."
Jérémie Beyou (BPI) on his 12th participation and winner in 2005: "This promises to be a very technical stage, big tidals changes and little wind. If we do not get chances to get away on the first part of the race to England, we will have a chance along the rung at Star Point, Portland Bill and the approach to the Needles…We are going to have to be patient and remain alert. It is not going to be a matter of winning at all cost but more of controlling and reducing the time deficit to a minimum. I can possibly see getting a bit of rest on the two channel crossings but it is going to be a physically exhausting leg!"
Francisco Lobato (ROFF) from Portugal on his second participation: "This race is especially difficult and you have to remain alert and deal with so many obstacles in the best way possible. There is the danger of the shore navigation, keeping alert on the tidal and currents and all whilst controlling a big fleet of almost 50 competitors on the water. My primary objective this year to to be up with the leading pack and be consistent with my performance and get the best result possible whilst avoiding mistakes to do well in the overall ranking at the end of the race."
Sunday, July 31st 2011
Bon Depart for 2011 Solitaire du 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.
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."
Monday, August 1st 2011
Inching forward against the tide
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. 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.
Tuesday, August 2nd 2011
Fabien Delahaye wins on home waters and Britain's Phil Sharp 7th
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.”
Wednesday, August 3rd 2011
60% of the fleet within 60 minutes
Today in Caen, the day after the finish of the first light and demanding leg of La Solitaire du Figaro it it time to review the race standings; there is plenty of hope as 60% of the fleet remain within 60 minutes of the leader. Fabien Delahaye wins at home, but there is still opportunities for the competition to make up on the lost time. The prospects are slightly less bright for the last 13 competitors who are more than 2 hours and 45 minutes behind the leader on an event where the cumulative time over the course of four legs. The Jury have reviewed 11 cases and applied time penalties to seven competitors.
"The 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."