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No Lead Is Safe In Changing Conditions To Bishop Rock

Published on 08/09/2021

Stage 3 of the 52nd La Solitaire du Figaro is being marked by regular regrouping because of the strong tidal currents and changes in the wind. It seems no lead is safe for long and there are always opportunities to come back and make up small miles. One and a half miles separates the top nine solo racers as they work upwind on port tack towards the Scillies and Bishop Rock which at 0800hrs CET/French this morning is 35 miles ahead of leader Corentin Horeau (Mutuelle Bleu pour l’Institute Curie).

Briton Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) has had a good night, holding offshore well under spinnaker, managing the transition to the upwind conditions. From 26th at Saint Gowan last night and over five miles behind the leader, Roberts is up to fourth at 0.7 of a mile behind Horeau who has the race overall leader Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019) in second, less than half a mile to his leeward.

The mist rolled in with the cold air from the south making visibility zero. Skippers were unable to see the top of their masts in 10-11 knot southeasterly wind, the top three spoke this morning:

Corentin Horeau (Mutuelle Bleu pour l’Institute Curie): “This ranking makes me happy. It’s complicated right now and the next few hours are going to be tough. It was a nice night downwind to Saint Gowan somewhere we have never been and so too Lundy was a good first too. Finally, we also had some spinnaker sailing. The weather is very random, you have to work with what you have. Last night we had up to 20 knots and at the moment there are 10-11 knots. The mist fell half an hour ago. You can’t see two metres in front of you. We watch carefully on the AIS, it’s a great British ambience. It’s very unstable, it’s hard to sleep. I need to get some sleep, but it’s not easy. It’s a big lottery this stage, anything can happen until the end. You need strong nerves in this game but it is better to be in front than behind! “

Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019): “It’s a nightmare! I was very satisfied with my first part of the night under gennaker after Saint Gowan. And then it all went to ruins, completely, the wind kicked in, I found myself 4 miles from the pack. And this morning, the fog arrived, I do not see the top of the sail. It is not easy at all. The wind is shifting a lot, with shifts that can be up to 30 °. I have just repacked the gennaker, I am under a genoa full mainsail. This wind is supposed to go to the right so there will be a tack before Bishop. It may be calms at Scilly but if it holds like that we can be there late in the morning.”

Alexis Loison (Normandy region): “ I’m not very fast, I was cursing! We’re heading for Bishop lighthouse, upwind. I made a very nice downwind leg, held the big spinnaker for a long time while the others were under gennaker. What a leg! Between what happened yesterday and the fleet compacting, it is not easy and it is a long way from being over. There is not really an established leader. The conditions are not easy to sleep. I changed sail too late because I fell asleep. But it’s the same for everyone! This morning, we can’t see the lights of the other boats even though they are very close, but with the AIS, we watching all the time! Earlier, I heard talking on the VHF but actually there was nobody was talking, I’m trying not to get too deep into the red. We have a wind of 10 knots with a very short sea, a short steep chop which makes it difficult. You have to find the right settings. We still have 40 miles to reach Bishop Rock Lighthouse knowing that the current is going against us there. I reckon we will be there early in the afternoon. “

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