Published on 06/06/2019
The opening stage of this historic 50th edition of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, the first to be raced in the new Figaro Beneteau 3, will be remembered as one of the longest and most challenging for many years. There were nine different leaders over the course of the leg which lasted four days and four nights and started from the bay of La Baule on Sunday afternoon BEFORE finally finishing at 1900hrs this evening, local time, off Kinsale's Old Head.
After a two year absence from the the race, during which he won last year’s Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe in Class 40, it is Yoann Richomme (Hellowork-Telegram Group) who won narrowly into Kinsale. It is a triumphant, if a little unexpected return to the class for the English trained naval architect who wins a stage for the second time in his eight appearances on La Solitaire, ahead of a fleet which he described before the start as “probably the best level ever on definitely the best boat we have ever had in our hands.”
“I am very relaxed going in to the Solitaire, maybe because I’ve won it already but also because i’m full of confidence right now. I’m looking to be in the top 10 but will give it everything to get onto that podium,” he said before the start.
After a spirited gybing match down the final miles, Richomme won by 73 seconds ahead of 21-year-old rookie Tom Laperche, who is this year’s espoir, or talent search winner, for the Bretagne CMB programme which produced last year’s winner Sebastien Simon.
Richomme said this afternoon: “When I saw the whole gang going to the West at Ushant I kept to my plan to go north and we quickly soon saw that the angle of the wind and the phases of the windshifts favoured us.”
Richomme was a late substitute for Charles Caudrelier after Caudrelier pulled out early in the pre-season to co-skipper the Edmond de Rothschilde Ultime. So he came into the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro relaxed and was rarely mentioned among the media tips.
A brilliant, dominant winner of Class 40 in the last Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, Richomme is clever, tenacious, and sails accurate, well assimilated choices. But it took him some time to break into the lead. Seventh at Port Bourgenay, he passed Noirmoutier off Brittany in 25th position which he still held at the raz de Seine and Ushant.
Behind him, the podium is superb: Tom Laperche is already one of the revelations of this Solitaire. On his first Figaro at age 21, he was first on the approach to the Fastnet and now second in to Kinsale. He follows a family tradition as a third generation La Solitaire skipper, after both his father and his grandfather competed in one of the Aurora races, the predecessor to the Solitaire.
Pierre Leboucher (Guyot Environnement), completes the podium. For his third participation in the Solitaire, the French 470 representative in London 2012 Olympics has made a positive early impact. He had a good pre-season but admitted, “it has sometimes been necessary to roll the dice.”
Laperche is the first rookie to finish on the podium since Morgan Lagravière in 2011.
As for the new Trophy Vivi which rewards the first foreigner, Swiss skipper Justine Mettraux (Teamwork) leads Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) at a a few miles from Kinsale.
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