The 2009 race winner Nicolas Lunven (Generali) leads the first 420 nautical miles first stage of the 2017 La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro after a relatively straightfoward first night at sea. Racing between Bordeaux and Gijon in northern Spain, Lunven had the tiniest of leads at the head of a group of four which contains three times winner Yann Eliès ((Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir). At a little after 0500hrs UTC this Monday morning Lunven lead around the ATT Arcachon mark with Eliès in third after a moderate airs spinnaker run down from the entrance to the Gironde estuary.
Eliés lead the fleet last night when they rounded the Radio France buoy as the fleet left the Gironde but was overhauled by Lunven on the early stages of the downwind leg south.
After tacking 35 miles out of the Gironde to the Radio France buoy the downwind leg was sailed in 14-15kts of WNW-ly breeze. Speed differences under spinnaker became evident progressively as the leading group pulled away slightly.
The first night has revealed few hazards or surprises, largely playing out as forecast. The solo racers will be looking to snatch some catnaps to store energy before a depression is due to move in from the west as of the middle of the morning.
Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) is the best of the British skippers and was up to 12th place since rounding the Radio France mark last night in 16th. He was 1.8 nautical miles behind the lead group. Mary Rook (Inspire +) is 30th and Hugh Brayshaw (The Offshore Academy) 31st. Of the other international skippers Switzerland’s Justine Mettreaux (Teamwork) is in tenth at 1.56 nautical miles behind the leaders.
After a disappointing start Jérémie Beyou (Charal), like Eliés bidding to win the race overall for a record fourth time, is down in 20th with a two miles deficit to make up and Charlie Dalin (Skipper MACIF 2015), who is one of the outstanding favoiurites finishing on the podium in each of the last three years, is in 16th. The winner of last year’s first stage into Cowes, Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux) was lying sixth.
Eliès said early this morning, “We have broken away slightly with Generali, Ovimpex and Adrien Hardy. We had 14 or even 15 knots, which was good, we had little surfs at 10 -12 knots, it’s been really nice. We enjoyed a great night. The idea is to take advantage of these fairly stable conditions then we will have strong wind with the front coming.”
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