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Hours lost by many and good fortune for some

Published on 20/06/2019

After three memorable legs, there is a short break in the fiftieth edition of the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro in Morlaix Bay before the final leg gets underway on Saturday at 16:00CET, when the boats will head for Dieppe. Following on from the third leg of racing in the English Channel, when three skippers gained several hours over the favourites, the overall rankings have been well and truly shaken up. We have a new-look top three, although the overall leader remains the same, while the top rookie and top foreigner have also changed.


In the rankings, we can now see some sailors who have previously had a lot of success pushed out of the game. Others from lower down the rankings have bounced back. There are now just seven skippers still competing for overall victory in Dieppe, if logic is to be believed at this point, but anything can still happen in terms of the top three with possible surprises in store at the end of the fourth and final leg.

For some, with more than ten hours to catch up to the leading pack, the task is practically impossible. There are around thirty in this situation (out of the 47 that set sail from Nantes and Roscoff), including some of the big guns, like Jérémie Béyou (Charal, 20th), Loïck Peyron (Action Enfance, 23rd), Alain Gautier (30th), Thomas Ruyant (Advens-Fondation de la mer, 40th) and Gildas Morvan (Niji, 47th).

But things are not looking that great either for Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), who is in a credible 11th place and some 4hrs 41 minutes and 45 seconds behind the leader,, Morgan Lagravière (Voile d’engagement), who is in 12th with 6 hours and 5 minutes and three seconds to catch up, 15thplaced Yann Éliès (St Michel) who has to recover 7 hours, 50 minutes and 9 seconds, and Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF), in 16th, 8 hours, 11 minutes and 9 seconds behind.

It is hard to imagine any of them making it to the podium this year. But there is still the hope of coming out on top in this leg, which involves 500 miles of sailing between Morlaix and Dieppe, via Portsall, Wolf Rock and Owers (on the British side), and Saint-Marcouf (near Utah Beach).


The weather forecast looks like it is going to be another mixed leg with some fast downwind sailing to the tip of Brittany and with the wind on the beam to cross the English Channel. Then, a lot of tacking to get to the Isle of Wight before they are all slowed down off the Cherbourg Peninsula, with a final sprint to the finish.

While the Figaro Bénéteau 2 offered minor upsets in the rankings, in this fiftieth edition, we have seen gaps of hours and hours develop. In the first leg, between the winner and the tenth placed skipper, there was 51 minutes, while in the second leg the gap was 2 hours 40 minutes, and in the third, an unprecedented 8 hours 43 minutes. It is not likely to be as dramatic as the final leg as the weather is not favourable for that sort of outcome, but some may get stuck in the calms…

Most will now be doing their best, not with the hope of getting the overall result they were hoping for, but rather just sailing cleanly and as best they can in this leg, with the possible exception of Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Groupe Télégramme), who will be determined to save his place at the top of the rankings.

The Jury decides
The Jury met on Thursday to deal with several cases involving the following and gave the following penalties. At this point in the game, the decisions will only slightly modify the overall rankings.

- Irish sailor, Tom Dolan (use of engine to get off the rocks: penalty of 1 hour)

- Michel Desjoyeaux (broken anchor seal: 15 mins)

- Loïck Peyron (entered the Casquets TSS off Alderney: 30 mins)

- Thomas Ruyant, Corentin Douguet and Yoann Richomme (loss of light anchor: 15 mins)

Repairs underway
Seven skippers have had to take their boats out of the water after hitting the rocks off Alderney: Tanguy Le Turquais, who ran aground, Tom Dolan, British sailor Alan Roberts, Damien Cloarec, Thomas Ruyant, Pierre Quiroga, Éric Delamare, and Gildas Morvan, whose Figaro Bénéteau 3 was damaged in the first leg.

As in Nantes
There will be a full quota of 47 solo skippers setting off at the start of this fourth leg with the return of Cassandre Blandin, who collided with a cargo vessel in the first leg), and Gildas Morvan who retired from the second and third legs.

Overall rankings after three legs and jury decisions
1-Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Groupe Télégramme) 10d 06hrs 13’ 34’’
2-Gildas Mahé (Breizh Cola-Equi’Thé) 1hr11’14’’ behind
3-Alexis Loison (Région Normandie) 2hr 07’12’’ behind
4-Anthony Marchand (Groupe Royer-Secours Populaire) 2hrs 21’32’’ behind
5-Adrien Hardy (Sans nature, pas de futur) 2hrs 48’13’’ behind
6-Corentin Douguet (NF Habitat) 2hrs 50’18’’ behind
7-Pierre Leboucher (Guyot Environnement) 3hrs 33’43’’ behind
8-Tom Laperche (Bretagne CMB Espoir) 3hrs 49’19’’ behind
9-Éric Péron (French Touch) 3hrs 56’53’’ behind
10-Michel Desjoyeaux (Lumibird) 4hrs 06’45’’ behind

Radio France Trophy (3rd leg): Pierre Leboucher (Guyot Environnement)
BPGO Trophy (3rd leg): Alexis Loison (Région Normandie)

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