Published on 24/08/2021
Winner of the first stage of the last race in 2020, Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) led the 34 boat 52nd La Solitaire du Figaro fleet around the Farallones mark off La Coruña, NW Spain this morning at 0820hrs CET, in brisk 25kts winds and big seas. The 40 year old from the Team Vendée group is on his 11th participation and is known as ‘the boar’ for his hard driving, fast downwind speeds. Such skills have proven valuable again during yesterday night as the winds and seas built in the southern Bay of Biscay, Macaire pulling out a very valuable 1.6NMs margin ahead of second placed Pierre Leboucher (Guyot Environnement-Ruban Rose).
Macaire said as he approached the Los Farallones mark: “There is water on the deck of the boat and loads of noise because the keel is vibrating. I only now see bits of the fleet in these rough seas. The day is breaking and it’s nice to start a beautiful day with the passage of this small buoy. Last night, we had to do a gybe to get down to this corner of Spain. We gybed almost all at the same time. Then the wind picked up and the gaps were created quite quickly. We had 25 knots of wind all night with gusts to 30 knots. In these conditions, the boat is going fast. I found good settings, and put a little distance on my pursuers. “
In the brisk wind conditions the gaps have now opened through the fleet with the tailenders such as David Paul (Just A Drop) now 31 miles behind Macaire. Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) remains the best placed of the international sailors in 17th place at eight miles behind Macaire. On here first ever long solo offshore the Italian-American rookie Francesca Clapcich on Fearless State Street Marathon Sailing is going strongly in 20th place – also around eight miles from the top of the fleet, but pushing hard in the thick of the main group of ‘bizuths’ or rookies. Top rookie is Gaston Morvan (Bretagne CMB Espoir) in ninth. Briton Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) will be conserving himself as best he can for the finish stretch into Lorient on Thursday morning where an opportunity may present itself to come back from his current 22nd place to find a more valuable first leg finish time, consider always this race is scored in cumulative time aggregated over all four legs so the most important aspect is always time delta behind the winner.
Pam Lee, Irish short handed racer who is preparateur for Roberts this race noted this morning, “The pack hit the layline for the Bouée Cardinale Ouest “Ouest Farallones” off the coast of Spain at about 2300 last night, with the most northerly boat Marc Mallerat - CTB, Controles Techniqie de Voile, the first to gybe, Jesse Fielding - Opportunity – State Street Marathon was close second to make the call. As the rest of the fleet headed south, the wind had already increased with a steady North Easterly but it will be a wet, bumpy climb 300 or so nautical miles back upwind to Lorient. There is still the prospect of a shut down on Thursday morning if they don’t keep up the pace, which could really stretch out the final hours of this leg. The big tactical decision for the long upwind will be which route to take through the three exclusion zones. Weather models were giving a number of different alternatives before the fleet left the dock. Undoubtedly the skippers will be searching for the key signs to help them make this big decisions. “
Roundings at Los Faralllones.
1 / Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) à 8h20
2 / Pierre Leboucher (GUYOT Environnement – Ruban rose) à 8h30
3 / Gildas Mahé (Breizh Cola) à 8h37
4 / Fabien Delahaye (Groupe Gilbert) à 8h38
5 / Tom Laperche (Bretagne – CMB Performance) à 8h40
6 / Corentin Horeau (Mutuelle Bleue pour l’Institut Curie) à 8h45
7 / Martin Le Pape (Gardons la vue) à 8h45
8 / Elodie Bonafous (Bretagne – CMB Oceane) à 8h53
9 / Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019) à 8h53
10 / Gaston Morvan (Bretagne – CMB Espoir) à 8h54 first rookie
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