Solitaire du Figaro
Gildas Morvan won leg 2 from Gijon to Vendée
mercredi 4 juillet 2012 –
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In between the solo skippers experienced a close-quarters contest around the buoys off the Spanish coast, and night navigation around some Brittany landmarks, but the majority of the 442-mile race was spent on a reaching course, mostly under spinnaker, and always with the numbers on the speedo holding precedence.
Leg 2 started from Gijon, on the northern coast of Spain, on Sunday July 1 in a 12-knot north-westerly. With shifty conditions the majority of the fleet opted to rank up at the left-hand side of the line, with several boats arriving too soon at this congested approach. Briton Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23) was among those given individual recalls, as was Leg 1 runner-up Morgan Lagravière (Vendée).
Eventual stage winner Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) escaped cleanly up the first beat and led around the top mark onto a spreader leg, followed by a tight spinnaker reach. British rookie Henry Bomby (Artemis 37) made a good start and was in the top 10 during this early inshore section, before incurring a penalty turn.
After two short spinnaker legs the fleet then pointed their bows across the Bay of Biscay in light north-westerlies, with a ridge of high pressure to overcome over the first night. Day two dawned with Nicolas Lunven (Generali) holding the lead as the fleet set spinnakers in new south-westerly pressure on a 250-mile straight-line sprint across Biscay towards the north-west tip of France. Lunven and Morvan’s duel continued with the pair separated by less than a mile throughout the day, Morvan taking the lead going into the second night as they gybed for the approach to the French shore.
The second evening at sea saw the 36 soloists round three marks in darkness, including the Raz de Sein, a highly tidal stretch of water between the Ile de Seine and Pointe de Raz. Crossing this section of course with a favourable current was key in order to stay in touch with the main pack. Having steadily climbed through the fleet after a mid-pack start, leg 1 winner Yann Eliès (Groupe Queguiner/Journal des Enterprises) converted himself up to third during the night, a position he held to the end despite ongoing autopilot problems. Others who made gains during this triangular section of course were Alexis Loison (Groupe Fiva), who gained 8 places overnight to rise to fourth, Fabian Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) who jumped 4 positions into the top 10, and Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) who made up 9 places in the second half of the fleet.
From La Plate the final section of course was relatively straightforward, with all the skippers taking the most direct route, south of Belle Ile, rather than attempting to make gains by heading dramatically inshore. Gildas Morvan, competing in no less than his 17th Figaro race, sealed his first stage win at 23.58 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3rd. Nicolas Lunven (Generali) came home at one minute past midnight, July 4th, while Eliès confirmed his third place 7 minutes later.
Behind the leaders the contest for leading rookie or ‘Bizuth’ was more eventful. On Wednesday afternoon Nick Cherry (GBR, Artemis 23) had been leading among the first-timers for over 24 hours, in a neck-and-neck race with Corentin Horeau (Bretagne – Credit Mutuel Espoir). However, as the fleet rounded the Le Boeufs marker that evening, Horeau established a fractional lead which he held to take the honour of first newcomer home in 23rd place.
Fellow Bizuth Julien Villion (Seixo Promotion) was another who closed rapidly during the closing stages — Cherry held off Villion around the Pilours marker at the entrance to the finish port, but on the final gybe to the line Villion snuck through to finish just 17 seconds ahead in 25th place. First British skipper Sam Goodchild (Artemis (23) took 24th place. Norway’s Kristin Songe Molle (Kristen For Fulle Seil) finished in 33rd place. Henry Bomby (GBR, Artemis 37) brought home the fleet at 02.43 a.m.
The third stage of the Solitaire du Figaro begins on Sunday, July 8, with a return leg to Cherbourg. Heading into the final race, the winner of the opening leg Yann Eliés (Groupe Queguiner/Journal des Entreprises) still holds the overall lead on cumulative time by 30 minutes and 17 seconds from Morgan Lagraviere (Vendée) in second, with Nicolas Lunven (Generali) just 10 seconds further back in third.
Le classement des 10 premiers (avant jury) de la deuxième étape Gijón > St Gilles Croix de Vie :
1- Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) arrivé à St Gilles à 23:58:28 2- Nicolas Lunven (Generali) à 00:01:45 3- Yann Eliès (Groupe Quequiner / Journal des Entreprises) à 00:08:53 4- Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) à 00:14:15 5- Alexis Loison ( Groupe Fiva ) à 00:18:25 6- Jean Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) à 00:19:48 7- Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) à 00:22:23 8- Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat) à 00:25:22 9- Vincent Biarnes (Prati’Bûches) à 00:27:20 10- Xavier Macaire (Skipper Herault) à 00:28:23
Les 3 premiers au classement général après 2 étapes ( avant jury) :
1- Yann Eliès (Groupe Quequiner / Journal des Entreprises) 2 - Morgan Lagravière (Vendée) à 30 mn 17 sec du leader 3- Nicolas Lunven (Generali) à 30 mn 27 sec
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