The only thing decided about the outcome of the 48th edition of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is that the leaders should cross the finish line in Dieppe tomorrow morning between 7 and 9am. But in what order remains to be seen? As the fleet approach the south side of the Isle of Wight this afternoon, tightening has taken place with the northerly bunch of the fleet gaining from the days advances. Sébastien Simon (Brittany-Crédit Mutuel Performance) and Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat), had chosen to continue along the English coast, and are second and third only to Alexis Loison (Custo Pol), who is still the leader of the pack. Eyes turn to the two big players in the provisional general rankings: Nicolas Lunven (Generali) and Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement). Hardy taking the southerly route and Lunven the northerly – will Hardy’s option pay off? The answer will be revealed as the fleet converge around the Owers Buoy at approximately 7pm!
It was necessary to have solid nerves today off the English coast. Despite the ideal downwind conditions in 18 knots of breeze under spinnaker and offering opportunities for some micro naps, the sailors did not hesitate. “You have to be on it!” Explained Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Espoir CEM) at midday. The sailors constantly adjusting while looking at competitors and thinking about tactics all whilst navigating the busy water way of the English Channel. Many parameters come into play: the current against, the wind that gradually strengthens and a swing in the breeze that did not materialize! This is what dictated the choice of navigators from the lighthouse of Wolf Rock.
“It should not change too much, but considering the length of the stage and the fatigue of the runners, we are not immune to making technical errors.” said this afternoon Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat) after a superb crossing of the Channel and a disconcerting constancy under spinnaker for his rivals. Once Owers is passed, the order of passage to Dieppe could well dictate the order of arrival, although… the crossing of the Channel will be with a westerly 15kt wind, the sailors will have to make a choice which front sail which will be crucial: genoa or spinnaker? Maneuvers which the broken, fatigued sailors will perform in the dark. Then, it will be down to managing the current and the strengthening coastal breeze on the last few miles to the cliffs… A few hours until the finish of the 48th edition of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, nobody can yet say who will win. Lunven and Hardy, a duel!
Justine Mettraux continues to consolidate her top 10 position having opted for a routing on the north-westerly side of the fleet passing Jeremie Beyou (Charal) and taking 8th position at the 17:00 standings with only .1 of a mile to Martin Le Pape (Skipper Macif 2017) for 7th. Alan Roberts’ (Seacat Services) position to the south of the pack didn’t pay of this afternoon and saw him relegated from 12th position that he held earlier in the day back to 18th – with very few miles in between this tight bunch! Just 1 mile separates 10th-18th so all is to be played for! Further back in the fleet but still retaining at the top of the amateur leaderboard battling with fellow amateur Eric Delamare (Region Normandie), Hugh Brayshaw (The Offshore Academy) sits in 32nd place with an opportunity to take more positions having closed the gap on Delamare. Mary Rook (Inspire +) sits in 34th with a 2 mile advantage on her closest rival.
Thierry Chabagny – Gedimat – 2nd in the 17h rankings
“I have not yet listened to music. At the beginning of the stage there were many things to manage, we had to be on it all the time, we did not have much means to rest on the start of the race. I slept well last night because I was really burnt after going through Wolf Rock. I still have a bit of fatigue, I try to take naps whenever possible and keep thinking about what follows.”
Nicolas Lunven – Generali – 4th in the 17h rankings
Justine Mettraux – TeamWork – 8th in the 17h rankings
Adrien Hardy – Act Recovery – 23rd in the 17h rankings