Because of imminent stormy conditions on the Bay of Biscay, predicted to worst off the Brittany peninsula, the course of the first leg of La Solitaire URGO Figaro has been reduced from the scheduled 525 nautical miles to 430 miles.
The decision was taken last night as the 43 boat fleet arrived in the start port of Pauillac where the solo racers will leave this Sunday afternoon bound for Gijon on the north Spanish coast where they are now expected to finish between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The lastest Saturday night weather files showed gusts to 45kts and a vicious front which is expected to sweep the Chaussée du Sein area through which the solo skippers would have had to pass Monday evening. Big and confused seas were predicted.
Instead of climbing north to the Chaussée du Sein the fleet will pass the Courdouan light at the entrance to the Gironde estuary, then head south – expected to be downwind under spinnaker - to the Cap Ferret mark off Arcachon, then it is a long NNW tight reach to the Rochebonne turn (by the Ile de Ré) where they head SW on a starboard tack reach towards
the Gijon finish.
After a relatively light start the 43 skippers are expected to face SW winds of 25-30 knots, with a with the most difficult section being crossing the front in 25-30 knots as the winds shift sharply to the NW.