First at the western Chaussee De Sein mark extending his lead Alexi Loison (Custopol) approaches the ‘Basse Royal’ cardinal buoy. Having been gifted an early lead, Loison extends away from play mate Charlie Dalin (Skipper Macif 2015) by over 3nm. Another mile back Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-LLeucemie Espoir) completes the top three advancing away from the main pack of the fleet.
After only 80 miles completed at the speed of a snail (3.5 knots average!) driven by an erratic wind, the rescue of sailors exhausted from fatigue and cooked by the sun of the last 24hrs seems to come with wind from the northeast. Already the gaps are widening since the fleet of the 43 competitors of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro stretches over 17 miles….
On his Custopol, Alexis leads the fleet averaging more than 5 knots and increasing his advance hour by hour, Loison is first to pass the “Basse Royale” cardinal buoy marking the entrance to the Channel of the Four. The leading group should reach the point of Saint-Mathieu just at the moment the current will reverse from the end of the afternoon. Compacting the fleet and potentially forcing the skippers to prepare their anchors once more! Beyond this channel a complex coastal section is followed by the offshore crossing of the English Channel and the next stage of the race.
The elastic will relax
“The later you arrive at Basse Royale, the less you will have to fight against it. But that will not be enough because the reversal will take place around 9pm. It will come back from behind, because we're going to stop in against the others.” Explained Charlie Dalin, via VHF who is still a very level headed about the situation. For the sailors to take advantage of this opportunity in the Iroise sea which option to take. Shave the coast towards Le Conquet where the west side islands are shallow to anchor but many patches without wind. This is the question that challenges the sailors who have to deal with what they have. “It's not easy to have a clear vision, the weather is not consistent with reality. You can’t really make a race plan. I do with the weather we have at the VHF” confided Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) this afternoon.
The fight rages behind the head of the fleet. Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux) 4th at the last ranking, Eric Peron (Finistère Sea Wind) 18th, the game and the stakes are enormous. Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement) holds close to Nicolas Lunven (Generali), with nothing between them at this stage. In short, everything is still to be done on this the beginning of the 4th and last stage!
Breaking into the top 10 Justine Mettraux (Teamwork) sits in 9th position at the 18:00 standings just behind Nicolas Lunven (Genarali), continuing to hold position just outside the top 10 Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) continues to fight for positions sitting in 14th position at the 18:00 standings. Further back and hoping to take advantage of the tidal situation at the Four Channel and the compression of the fleet, Mary Rook (Inspire +) and Hugh Brayshaw (The Offshore Academy) sit in 27th and 28th.
The words of sailors at sea:
Charlie Dalin – Skipper Macif 2015, 2nd at the 18h rankings
Alan Roberts – Seacat services – 14th at 18h ranking
Adrien Hardy – Agir Recouvrement – 7th at 18h ranking