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Cross Channel Choices on Passage to Pullar

Published on 05/09/2021

"Alexis, Alexis from TeamWork… Do you see the cargo ship on your starboard side?". The exchange on the VHF comes as the 52nd La Solitaire du Figaro continues the passage across the busy shipping lanes of the Channel making for South Pullar. This monster ship is 280 metres long with a 12m draft and it creates quite a stir as it passes the fleet.

At about half way, or just over it, 35 miles since midday’s start gun off Fécamp and there is still a lingering haze as the sun starts to set. There is four miles of lateral separation, Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) electing to stay south of the rhumb line Robin Marais (Moi Chance Moi Aussi) to the north. Some have let themselves slip west and gone for speed like Pierre Quiroga, Eric Peron and Tom Laperche, others have chosen to stay on the course at all costs, like Xavier Macaire or Alan Roberts. The leg leader, the skipper of Groupe SNEF admitted he was satisfied with his position upwind of the fleet as close as possible to the direct route. The hour of the tide change is just happening and the flood tide starts flowing west to east. The Pullar mark should be reached at around 2215hrs (French time), some will try to have a quick nap before, knowing the mark rounding in light winds and then the downwind against the tide, making choices is going to require maximum focus.

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