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Armel Le Cleac’h & Martin Le Pape – 1st & 2nd in the Solo Concarneau

Published on 15/05/2019

The Solo Concarneau, which concluded on the 14th May, was only the second single-handed race for the skippers in the new foil-assisted Figaro Bénéteau 3 following last months Solo Maïtre Coq. It has been fascinating to follow the solo skippers as they get to grips with their new boats, and it is quickly becoming clear who has adapted quickest ahead of this summers Solitaire URGO Le Figaro.

A betting person might consider putting their money on Vendée Globe winner Armel Le Cleac’h to at least win a leg of the Solitaire. Supported by his long-term partner Banque Populaire, he bettered his fifth place in the Solo Maïtre Coq to win the Solo Concarneau, giving the Frenchman a boost to his confidence before the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro starts on June 2nd from Nantes.

“It was a very nice course. We had everything! The weather was as expected. I had a good start to the race, then there was a little speed battle to get to Les Pierres-Vertes. I managed to get a small lead with Martin Le Pape and Eric Péron at Sein raz. It was necessary to stay focused, and to only sleep a little. I managed to pass Martin just before the South Guérande buoy. I suspected he had gone to sleep because his boat was not going to the buoy. I took the opportunity! Then I had a great run under spinnaker which was very fast. It was good because I had never done that in Figaro 3. I have learnt a lot of lessons.

My last win goes back to the 2016 Vendée Globe and it feels good to reconnect with positive things. I am happy for Banque Populaire because they trusted me and I also worked well with Arnaud Hébert, my coach. This race was rich in lessons, in different situations, in choice of sails. With Martin and Eric, it’s one to me, you to you! That’s exactly how it’s done in the Figaro!”

Martin Le Pape (Skipper Macif 2017) finished second. Notably, he won the long offshore leg of the Solo Maïtre Coq and the skipper, who has competed in the Solitaire every year since 2015, has marked himself out as one to watch for the 50thanniversary edition this year.

“It was a beautiful regatta. The result is even better than I expected despite a great mistake due to my lack of attention. I rounded the South Guérande buoy the wrong way and so I let two boats pass me. I do not know if it cost me the victory because there was still a long way to race at that time. One thing is certain, I prefer that it happened here rather than on the Solitaire!

But I’m very happy. The conditions were great, I’m going fast and I managed to do what I wanted in terms of strategy. Of the 3 big races at the beginning of the season, I’m 2, 1 and 2 so that’s great! I had no bad surprises but there is still a bit of work on the boat on small improvements and bad electronics. It will be necessary to improve these before the Solitaire so I can give it my everything.”

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