The second leg of La Solitaire du Figaro got off on Sunday 7th of August in the Sein Bay, opposite Ouistreham in Normandy with thousands of people lining the canal and outer harbour wall to wave the solo sailors off. The start of the race was finally given under sunny skies with some 8 knots of southwesterly breeze and on a choppy sea. The course, made up of an initial 10 mile inshore preamble to the Radio France Buoy, is 470 miles from Caen to Dún Laoghaire Harbour, on the North East coast of Ireland, where the fleet is expected from Wednesday 10th of August. Forecasts predict both strong wind and tidal currents for what unanimously agree will be a complex first 24 hours at sea.
The many spectator boats and thousands of people lining the Bay were treated fabulous conditions for the start of the second leg, which finally got underway at 16:49, some 50 minutes behind schedule. The delay for Figaro, committee and security boats out of the lock in Ouistreham, due to an incident in the harbour, was then further increased when the committee was forced to re-set the start line. Three individual recalls were called for Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert), Paul Meilhat (Macif 2011) and Sam Goodchild (Artemis) who were early over the start line, but managed to quickly repair. Eric Drouglazet (Luisina) and Francisco Lobato (ROFF) enjoyed the best start at the committee boat end of the line. Eric Peron (Macif 2009), Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat), Frederic Duthil (Sepalunic) and Jeremy Beyou (BPI) exchanged lead positions round the 10-mile windward-leeward inshore course to reach the Radio France buoy ahead of the competition. Best performance from the international entries comes from Francisco Lobato (ROFF) who rounded in 9th followed by Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) in 11th place.
The solo sailors will now face “upwind conditions that could last 250 miles” explains Nicolas Bérenger, the experienced Figaro sailor converted to trainer, of a number of the 2011 edition competitors. “It’s going to be very technical. They must keep up the speed and make sure they reach Barfleur before the tide changes” at 23:00 tonight, continues Bérenger. The low pressure system that is due to sweep over the fleet tonight is forecast to bring 25 knots, with gusts of up to 35. “The passage of the front we will get tonight over the Cotentin coastline, is going to be tough. We should get the most wind on the approach to Guernsey but it is the passage at the raz Blanchard where we are going to have to take special care because it is where you get the strongest current in France”, muses Vincent Biarnes (Prati’Bûches) just before the start. “The interesting part of the first 24 hours of the race will be the passages of Barfleur and then the Cherbourg peninsula which you need to get right”, agrees Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics).
(Taken from www.lasolitaire.com)
Please watch the video below of the start of Leg 2 of La Solitaire du Figaro.