Published on 12/06/2019
With some 35 nautical miles to race to the Grande Basse de Portsall mark off the northern corner Finistère, and 75 miles to the finish, Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Groupe Telegramme), has seen his lead eroded slightly as the second placed skipper Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire), who is known as ‘the Jackal,’ remains an ever-present threat.
The Vendée Globe champion is less than four miles behind, ready to pounce on any mistake or misfortune suffered by the stage and overall race leader Richomme when the 535-mile second stage from Kinsale, Ireland finishes later this afternoon amidst the strong currents and lightening winds of Le Cléac’h’s childhood playground, his home waters, the Bay of Morlaix.
Le Cléac’h grew up on the Bay and was the first of three close friends to win La Solitaire overall, followed by Jérémie Beyou and Nicolas Troussel. After the fleet leaders compacted yesterday evening at and just after the Needles Fairway turn, Le Cléac’h is one of four sailors within four miles of Richomme. But with much lighter winds expected for the approach to the north Brittany coast, any one of the top ten sailors might reasonably hope for a place on this evening’s podium in Roscoff.
Britain’s Will Harris (Hive Energy) might legitimately hope to be among them after an excellent night racing back down the Channel. When the strong winds returned through the early part of last night and the Figaro Beneteau’s were regularly topping 20 knots and averaging in excess of 15 knots, Harris was one of the quickest and this morning is six miles behind Richomme but continues to post the best VMG averages of the leaders, a measure of the most efficient sailing towards the next mark.
A roller coaster gennaker reach took the fleet to the edge before the wind eased off around 0200hrs early this morning. “…Under big spinnaker we were at the limit of what is reasonable, speeds spiking up to 20 knots,” exclaimed Lois Berrehar in a clear voice this morning on the VHF.
“The fleet has come a long way back after the Needles and you have to be careful when landing on Portsall where even with a small tidal coefficient, there is a lot of current,” warned Le Cléac’h who will be hoping to be proved a prophet in his own back yard. But the double Solitaire winner Le Cléac’h maintains that Yoann Richomme is the “the man on form, the one who controls things well”, before confirming that he had to take time to replace the water pump on his Figaro Beneteau 3 last night.
Justine Mettraux (Teamwork) retains her excellent consistency in 11th, Alan Roberts (Sea Cat Services) lost four places in the evening yesterday but it well positioned within the main peloton in 16th, 8.3 miles behind the leader.
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