This morning at 8:16 local time Nicolas Lunven on board his Bénéteau Figaro 2 Generali crossed the Stage 4 finish line completing the gruelling 505-mile course from Concarneau to Dieppe in fourth place, securing the top of the General Standings in La Solitaire Urgo le Figaro.
Today marks Lunven’s second victory in the Solitaire. He has competed in eight editions of the race and secured his first win in 2009.
“This race with equal weapons is difficult and so demanding, it’s probably my greatest victory, so much work has been going on for the past two years,” Lunven said.
Taking second place in the final standings Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement), who arrived at the dock completely exhausted after finishing Stage 4 in 12th position.
A bold decision on the English coast, opting for the more offshore route meant Hardy tumbled 20 places down the leaderboard. Working relentlessly right through the night until the finish, Hardy managed to claw back 10 of those places to retain second place on the overall podium.
Justine Mettraux (Teamwork) retains her place in the top 10 standing of the fourth Stage, finishing in ninth. This result enough to take seventh in the General standings, beating her closest rival by less than 3 minutes.
Mettraux is the highest ranked International competitor and also the top female in the 2017 edition.
“It was hard this stage. I hung on. We had managed to make a good hole at the beginning and then it started again from scratch. We had to do the job again and it's cool that it went well in the end,” Mettraux said.
“Last year I had good basis, but I had not managed to convert it because I had arrived tired. I really took care this year to rest well before La Solitaire. You realize it's so much easier to last the distance.
“Morale plays a lot. I'm glad to get to Dieppe. It was time for Teamwork to finish and I had a little in mind the general classification. I knew I could win a place by putting Damien Cloarec behind and that Xavier (Macaire) should not end up too far ahead… I think what I could ensure, I assured, so I'm happy.”
The 48th edition of the race is proving to be a test for all skippers, including the most experienced. The likes of Jeremie Beyou (Charal) and Yann Elies (Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir) finished outside the top five and Beyou the top 10.
Just outside the top 20, Milan Kolacek (Czeching The Edge) has to settle for 21st place after spending the entire fourth stage playing catch up as he tried to chase down the leading pack. But unable to find a passing lane, Kolacek finished 29th, sadly missing the Rookie podium by an hour.
Just behind Kolacek and leading the British contingent in the General Classification, Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) had a challenging time spent battling for 15th place for over two days.
Positioned in a very tight bunch of boats towards the end of the stage, Roberts had to settle for 21st place, just 10s behind 20th, meaning 22nd place on the overall standings, 10 minutes behind Kolacek.
Competing in only his second La Solitaire du Figaro and representing The Offshore Academy, amateur sailor Hugh Brayshaw had a promising final stage, battling with fellow amateurs and with many sailors his senior.
Finishing at 09:32 local time this morning, after 3 days 18hrs 9min 12sec, Brayshaw takes 32nd place in Stage 4 and moves him to 25th in the Overall standings. This result cements his position at the top of the Amateur leaderboard and he takes the win by over an hour.
“I’m so happy to reach the finish, that was such a hard leg, I’m very happy we were quick along the English coast as the start was so painfully slow. I have a lot to improve on from this race and I’m going to write a long list after this – definitely things I can improve for next year,” Brayshaw said.
Just 30 minutes behind, Mary Rook (Inspire +) crossed the finish line to take 35th position for Stage 4 and 29th in the overall standings, [an improvement of 3 places on her 2016 race] finishing third female overall.
At the finish line she commented “We were doing 11 knots at times, there were just massive waves and a lot of downwind in this stage which was nice for a change.”
Of the remaining international entrants Turkeys Tolga Ekrem Pamir (Freedom Services a Domicile 1 Jour 1 Homme 1 Arbre) crossed the line of Stage 4 in 29th position after 2 days 22 hrs 5 min 32 secs at sea [5hrs after the leader].
Anglo American entrant Nathalie Criou remains on the course at the 16h standings with 60 miles still to run to the finish, after what has been a challenging event and compared to the podium skippers will have spent an extra two days at sea, but for Criou it was all about finishing her first attempt and the challenge that is La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro.
Nicolas Lunven (Generali), winner of the 48th edition of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro said: “It is a great relief, they are years of work, I think about every day, I am very moved. It's probably my best victory, so much has been working upstream since 2010.
“It's good to cross the line. Adrien was equal to himself with all the respect I owe him, he tried all the ideas that went through his head with an unusually high success rate for a human being.
“He made one too many mistakes I think on approaching the Isle of Wight, he lost a bit. All the victories are difficult. It's energy, time, the investment we make to get there … This one I will enjoy, more than my first in 2009. I’ve won two of the stages [The 3rd & 4th]. This is the best moment of my sporting career.”
Adrien Hardy (Act Recovery) said from second overall: “It's really hard. I dreamed of victory, for me and my sponsor – it's been ten years that they have been by my side, I wanted to win
“I'm so tired; I've given so much over these four days. I loved this Solitaire! On this stage, I took advantage of it sometimes. The fleet has always shifted. This stage was superb; four nights without sleep.
“Nicolas (Lunven) gave me the hard life and he won. He was super strong, he got a little mad at times – there were so many reversals of situations. There is a lot going on in your head, it's super positive all that. In the end, I did some great stuff, I was quick, I was still full of hope.”
Charlie Dalin (Macif 2015) – third overall: “I'm tired but happy with the stage win. It was a long stage, I'm happy to win that one. Every time I was in the lead the fleet came back, so I had to put the cover back a bunch of times.
“I am happy with this victory, it was necessary not to let go, it was played in the cross-channel where I set the spinnaker first. I do not win the Solitaire, but I made four podiums in a row, so it's still not bad. I am satisfied with this regularity. Now it will be necessary to return to win it.”