Palmieri builds lead into final night of Figaro

With 150 nautical miles still to complete of the Stage 1 course shortened to 559 miles Swiss skipper Nils Palmieri (Teamwork) has established a break at the head of the 34 strong La Solitaire du Figaro lead after he made a big gain by sailing to the east of the Seven Stones traffic separation zone at Land’s End, very early this morning.

Whether by virtue of extra wind pressure or favourable tidal current, the 35 year old Swiss racer who is on his third La Solitaire du Figaro, made a sizeable advance when he led a posse of five skippers to the east of the no-go zone whilst the main peloton stuck together out west and drifted at the Scillies in next to no breeze.

In the light downwind conditions this Wednesday afternoon Palmieri – winner of last year’s Two Handed Concarneau Saint Barths race with Julien Villion – was more than four miles clear of the second and third placed skippers, French rookies Romen Richard (Passion Santé-Trans forme) and Laurent Bourges (Unis Pour L’Ukraine 56-Devenis Partenaire).

But while Palmieri appeared to have banked his initial dividend the forecasts still show a high pressure ridge of light airs in front of the fleet which may yet prove a barrier to progress tonight, whilst the meteo experts still expect a new breeze to come in from the west.

Long time leader Tom Laperche (Région Bretagne-CMB Performance) has dropped to tenth alongside ninth placed Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) of Britain and 13th placed Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) who are all in a very tightly packed group about ten miles further offshore from Palmieri.

Laperche reported this morning: “I imagine that there are people behind who have gone to Land’s End. And how it looks here, where we are, well it could be almost favorable but I don’t really know. Here we are with no wind at the Scilly Isles and of course I got here and ran into the calm first. I lost my lead. I had 3 miles yesterday afternoon. I expected that there would some kind of regrouping which was not going to be easy to manage. Fortunately the current is helping us for the moment in a good way. We’ll see how it goes today after we get a little wind. I am waiting impatiently for the the broadcast of the weather report of the day but it seems like it is all restarting.”

An engaging final night at sea is promised and – as many skipper predicted before they left Saint Nazaire last Sunday – there seems every chance this marathon leg will be decided in the last miles into Port La Forêt where they are expected Thursday morning. As veteran Figaro skipper Alexis Loison warned the Figaro class website today, “But in a northerly wind at the end of the night a windless bubble could very well be present at the coastal level and the race might restart once again.”

How to follow the race
The English version of the website

The tracking:

There is a English Twitter feed @SolitaireENG

Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
M.O.S.S Australia
Race Yachts