Solitaire Du Figaro: Laperche leads to Channel Islands

With some 25 nautical miles of hard upwind sailing into a building easterly breeze the leading group, headed by Tom Laperche (Région Bretagne-CMB Performance), on Stage 2 of La Solitaire du Figaro can anticipate rounding the Desormes Bank buoy between 22.00hrs and 23.00hrs this evening.

After the day long beat up the Channel to the mark between Jersey and Guernsey there will be no time to relax.

The fast, wet 90 miles reach to Eddystone Rock light will require careful sail selection as the wind is forecast to top 25 knots through what promises to be a key stage of the 635 nautical miles leg to Royan which started Sunday afternoon from Port-la-Forêt.

Tom Laperche (Région Bretagne-CMB Performance) has been a solid leader through the day even if his margin over second placed Achille Nebout (Amarris-Primeo Energie) has hovered around the half a mile mark all through the day. Beating into a growing sea in 15-19kts of wind he has been preserving himself as best as possible, knowing what lies ahead through tonight and tomorrow.

Team Play 2 B-Terravia made some good moves – Alexis Courcoux pic

Spain’s Pep Costa (Team Play 2 B-Terravia) made a sequence of good moves last night rounding Penmarch and through the strong tides of the Chenal de Four which ensured he was in the top three round the point of Brittany. The 23-year-old from Castelldefels by Barcelona who trains with Lorient Grand Large in France is fourth at 1.5 nautical miles behind Laperche.

In contrast to, Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) of Ireland, Brit Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) and Germany’s Jorg Riechers (Alva Yachts) – top international on Leg 1 in fourth – dropped last night and are in the 20s. They will be keeping their powder dry for the fast reaching and knowing the final stage back down the Brittany and Vendée coasts to Royan look set to offer opportunities all the way to the finish.

Britain’s David Paul (Just a drop) has withdrawn from Leg 2 after hitting rocks at Penmarch light on the first night. He is uninjured and his boat was being checked but he pulled out on account of the muscular forecast for winds over 30kts.

Third on the first leg and lying 15th today Fred Duthil (Le Journal des Enterprises) said this afternoon: “The wind is slowly picking up. We are preparing for a tough evening. I started out pretty well, although I lost a bit going through a huge seaweed minefield.

“I was forced to do two or three back-ups in quick succession which made me lose a bit of ground. But I’m happy I’m in the top ten group It’s kind of my goal on this round, I’m happy. When the current reverses, we will accelerate fast towards the mark. This leaves us with a little chance of getting to the Channel Islands before it is too dark.”

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