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Drag Racing To La Coruna

Published on 23/08/2021

Racing in downwind conditions with their bows pointing just to the east of the mark at La Coruna, conditions over the first night at sea have been relatively straightforward 10-13kts of wind and following seas, but it has been an intense period with no let up in the quest for speed. This downwind stage of the leg was described as a drag race, a speed test and that is what it is proving to be.

Alexis Courcoux
Alexis Courcoux

Tom Laperche led out of the Loire estuary last night and he was first around the Rochebonne mark at 0256hrs. The skipper of CMB Bretagne Performance is holding a tiny lead of just 0.2 of a mile over Pierre Leboucher (Guyot Environnement-Ruban Rose) and Gildas Mahé (Breizh Cola). Mahé is furthest to the east of this lead pack but there is very little in it.

At the latitude of La Rochelle, 65 miles off the Ile d’Oléron around 0800hrs this morning Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan), the Irish skipper has taken the most easterly option in anticipation of the breeze going more east further down the track. There is still 200 miles to the bouy at Farrallones and with the breeze due to build skippers might try to catch a few minutes sleep. Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) is 19th Dolan 22nd.

“The weather is very consistent with what was forecast. The progression of the fleet follows what was planned in the routings. They are making progress this morning in 12 knots of north-easterly wind,” said Francis Le Goff, from the Race Direction. “The most striking point of this first night is the race of Tom Laperche who has been in the lead since almost the start and he is lengthening his stride. We can also see the older hands like Gildas Mahé and Fabien Delahaye, who pushed hard and well during the night to get up to the front.”

At 7 o’clock this morning, the first 20 were contained in a two-mile postage stamp. Tom Laperche (Bretagne - CMB Performance): “I am very happy to be in the lead from the orange buoy in front of Saint-Brévin. The conditions are quite pleasant with a full moon, it’s pretty and all good. We are under spinnaker towards Spain, the moon is in the spinnaker. The wind is not very strong, around ten knots but I think it will building during the day. For the moment, the situation is quite close to what was expected, it is happening as it was on paper! Today, we expect a good day of sliding south before the passage of the buoy in Spain tomorrow morning at dawn, in a little over 24 hours.”

Pierre Leboucher (GUYOT Environnement - Ruban rose): “The start of the night went well, especially since I made a good gain when I arrived in Rochebonne. I’m doing well, I’m happy. We had a magnificent moon rising just after dusk, all round, all red. I really loved that. I managed to put the pilot on, but I wasn’t tired enough to take a nap. I had recharged the batteries well before the start and there is this adrenaline that keeps me awake. “

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