Devon based yachtsman, Conrad Humphreys sailing onboard ‘DMS’ has completed the first leg of the gruelling La Solitaire du Figaro race (Tuesday 2nd August 2011).
Starting from Perros-Guirec on Sunday 31st July, the 47 strong fleet left in light and flukey winds to sail a course which took them across the English Channel, towards the Eddystone Lighthouse, across Lyme Bay, to The Needles Fairway buoy and back across the channel to Caen, in Normandy. The light wind conditions and strong currents tested the solo sailors to the limit, and at one point many had to use their anchors to prevent their boats being swept backwards in the current.
Due to the lack of wind in the final approaches, the race director decided in the morning of the 3rd day of racing, to shorten the course slightly which saw the leading boats arrive into Caen at 12.14 hrs GMT on Tuesday 2nd August. The Solitaire is notorious for its close racing and Plymouth’s Conrad Humphreys (DMS) was the second Brit to finish, crossing the finish line in 22nd place, 19 seconds behind the 21st placed boat and only 45 minutes behind the leg winner, Fabien Delahaye. Conrad will be happy to have not lost too much time on the leaders in this first leg, which is based on cumulative time over the total four legs.
The next leg of La Solitaire du Figaro will start from Caen on Sunday 7th August and will see the solo sailors sail 470 miles to Dún Laoghaire, Ireland. The course for this leg will take them via the Channel Islands, 120 miles from Hanois Lighthouse to Land’s End and then up through Irish waters to the harbour of Dún Laoghaire south-east of Dublin.
Speaking from Caen before going to catch up on some much needed rest , Conrad exclaimed “That was insane, thirty boats finishing just a few miles apart. The pace was unreal!”. Talking about the intensity of the race and the sleep deprivation, he said “I helmed manually most of the race and there was so little opportunity to sleep so I could only shut my eyes a couple of times whilst helming. By the last day, I was so tired and just had to grab a nap so managed to get 20 minutes sleep during the last 3 days.”
Listen to Conrad talking straight after he finished leg 1 of La Solitaire du Figaro in the video clip below:
For more information about La Solitaire du Figaro, please go to www.lasolitaire.com.