The first Stage of the 48th edition has seen the course shortened due to stormy conditions. This opening leg looks set to offer the 43 solo racers a full range for conditions and types of sailing, from light breezes to 30-35kts, from wriggling out of the Gironde estuary to a fullsome blast back across the Bay of Biscay under spinnaker in 20-25kts. It is going to be full on, a proper hard core La Solitaire test.
A Properly Complete Range of Weather for Stage 1.
Initially the weather for the starting period is more influenced by an anticyclonic ridge over France.
A beat out of the Gironde estuary is set to be followed by a lifting, left turning breeze, more NW’ly for the passage out into sea. Then it should be a spinnaker run down to Arcachon with some light patches through the night. But by Monday morning early the first effects of the SW’ly will be felt, building quite rapidly around 0600hrs to 0700hrs to 20-25kts for climb to Rochebonne. Seas will be crossed due to the combination of the southerly breeze and the NW swell generated by the low off Cornwall.
The wind will remain in this range during Monday until the passage of a cold front around 2000hrs, brining lots of rain and the winds picking up from 25-35kts with gusts to 45kts shifting rapidly back to the NNW accompanied by 3.5 to 4m confused seas. After Rochebonne the Figarists will attack on the 220 miles descent down to Gijón in quite dynamic, testing conditions, a gusty 20-25kts. But the leaders may feel some compression as they close to the Spanish coast, the wind dropping as the ridge moves north over Biscay. This will cause a notable slowdown over Tuesday night into Wednesday with the risk of being becalmed. On Wednesday the anticyclone will be fully established over the south of the Bay of Biscay, leaving the skippers seeking the local thermal airs to make it through the finish line of Stage 1.
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