Final Night of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro

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 was opportunist on the crossing of the Channel, the hot conditions had me a little behind and to get out the only solution I had was to attack on the cross channel and that is it worked well. This morning, the idea was to take advantage of the tide first, in the end the little guys in the south have gone a little faster, so I try to adjust myself a little more south also awaiting the tilting of the wind a little further west. It is still quite technical, the wind moves a little bit. It should not change too much, but given the length of the stage and the fatigue of the riders, we are not immune to making technical mistakes,

“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
“A little wind was recovered before Wolf Rock yesterday afternoon, since it is in pleasant conditions that allowed us to rest that night, and that was good because it was time to do something. I have 17-18 knots, flat sea, she sails well under spinnaker, it's nice. All is well on board Generali. The current will not bother us too much today because the wind is strong enough so it will not cause us any problem. A lot has happened. After Wolf Rock, this long section was attacked along the English coasts. I placed myself relatively early compared to my competitors and it allowed me to return well in the game last night. This morning I was in front of Adrien Hardy and I knew how to manage, by doing something that seemed coherent to the wind that I had and that's where I wanted to go also on the water, so it fell well. Now, as long as it's hard with Adrien (Hardy) and Charlie (Skipper Macif 2015) that is not far away, it must be pretty much on a tie, I see his blue Macif spinnaker and I lost Sébastien Simon (Brittany Credit Mutuel Performance), I do not know where he is but he had gone towards the shore, so I do not know if he had as much wind as he hoped to have. I think we'll be in Dieppe at the end of the night, because there's more than 70 miles to go to Owers and it's going to go pretty fast with the wind that's going to get carried away and then there's still a hundred miles, I have not yet done the calculations but I think late night or tomorrow morning. “

Justine Mettraux – TeamWork – 8th in the 17h rankings
“It's going well, the wind starts to accelerate. I've worked a lot on speed and placements. I got out of it, but as soon as there are angle changes in the breeze, it can change a lot, the trajectories diverge a little. We'll do the count at Owers I think. It is not easy but finally the spinnaker in these medium conditions, especially since waves are at a cross angle, the spinnaker is not easy to hold. I’m cool though, I was able to rest on the crossing of the Channel, before it was not possible. We will pass Owers in the late afternoon… “

Adrien Hardy – Act Recovery – 23rd in the 17h rankings
“I have the impression that a lot of people are sleeping. I’m recovered now, I just took the helm for half an hour. It is now necessary to manage the effort well until the finish. After Wolf Rock, I was pleased with my position, I would have preferred to see Nicolas (Lunven) behind. With the AIS, at night everyone looks at each other. The closer you get to the finish, the more opportunities are reduced, the wind is established, there will be long gybes, but I'm on the lookout, you have the opposite current, there are spills, there will be different trajectories. The wind is getting a bit stronger with the current, these are easy conditions for everyone. Last night, it was hard to keep up with fatigue, but I slept well last night, I ate, the sun has just appeared, we are well!”

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