Sprint stage underway in La Solitaire

This afternoon saw the start of stage 3 of La Solitaire URGO le Figaro race, the fleet departed the French port of Concarneau a little under 30 hours after arriving in the small hours of Wednesday morning on completion of leg 2.

The 150 mile ‘sprint stage’ will take the 43 skippers on a Concarneau to Concarneau route via “Sud banc de Guerande” and will take 24 hours of navigation to complete. Departing in 16kts of wind and reaching along at 7 knots in overcast skies the Figaro fleet worked their way south initially under genoas before setting large spinnakers, this first section a follow my leader leg.  It was Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement) who was first out of the pack, taking advantage of Charlie Dalin who wrongly returned to the start line thinking he was recalled.

Once the fleet rounded the Radio France Buoy more tactical opportunities were created seeing them spread out and opting when to gybe to head east. Early this evening the leaders will approach the island of Belle Il where options of sailing to the north or to the south of it allow for bold tactical decisions, decisions that could make or break this leg for some brave enough to commit.

Closely shadowing the La Solitaire URGO le Figaro fleet will be the on water Race Control team who will be broadcasting updates every hour via Facebook. Two of the three race control escort boats ‘Etoile and Santorini’ are equipped with cameras which will relay images of the live racing back to the shore.

At the 16:00 check in Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement) lead the fleet with Alexis Loison (Custopol) in second. Race favorite Nicolas Lunven under half a mile from the leader in 6th position but gaining.   Leading the international standings rookie Milan Kolacek (Czeching The Edge) sits in 7th position whilst Justine Mettraux (Teamwork) is half a mile further back in 16th. Mary Rook (Inspire +) leads the British contingent with Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) back in 24th and Hugh Brayshaw (The Offshore Academy) in 33rd.

Throughout the early evening west-northwest winds will turn northerly later, these conditions allowing the skippers to accelerate towards the south east under big spinnakers. The return to Concarneau after the passage around sud Banc de Guerande cardinal buoy still holds more uncertainty. Light gradient winds will force the skippers to seek thermal breezes closer to the shore, battling currents and local weather conditions. The potential arrival of breeze on Friday morning could restore play and tactical differences for the fleet which could be compact due to the conditions. The current routing promises an express stage with the 150 mile course expected to be completed in under 24hrs. The fleet currently launching downwind at nearly 10 knots in ideal Figaro conditions are tonight ahead of schedule, but glued to the helm of their Figaros!

Mary Rook, Inspire+

I think the start is going to be very hard as its very close in to the land – but afterwards there’s some wind so hopefully it will be a fast exciting leg. I’m feeling recovered now from the last leg and ready for this one! I’m hoping my tactical skills and style of sailing will help in this leg and hopefully I won’t feel too tired by the end of this 24hr sprint!

Nathalie Criou, Richmond Yacht Club Foundation

I arrived yesterday night around 11:30pm. A good meal, a warm shower and a good and long sleep and I’m fine to go back to the race and the 3rd leg.

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