On the dock pre-start

Published on 05/09/2021

On the race dock in Fécamp before the start here is a round up of what some of the skippers had to say.

Francesca Clapcich (ITA/USA Fearless State Street Marathon Sailing): “It is a complicated leg, they all are, but the light breeze will be challenging at the start to try and get away across the Channel. Then there are decisions about the TSS, there are a few decisions to be made, a few transitions and the models differ when then front comes in and how strong or weak it is. I think this will be about managing the windshifts in time with the current and trying to stick with the group. In the end the speed differences are not huge. I feel this whole race is never straightforward but this will be a more tactical leg and I am looking forwards to it. I feel good and am looking for revenge after that last leg. I want to make smarter decisions.”

David Paul (GBR, Just a drop): “I have been excited about this leg for at least three months. To be able to race La Solitaire du Figaro back past the Isle of Wight where I have done a lot of sailing will be nice – and it will be nice to be able to correctly pronounce the names of where I am going! It feels somewhat like a kind of homecoming. The fun and games really starts at the first mark and at the Isle of Wight depending what the tide is doing there. The majority of the fleet will go south I think to avoid wind holes on the English coast. But I think this leg might be won by someone doing something bold.

Jesse Fielding (USA, Opportunity State Street Marathon Sailing): “I think this will be the most interesting leg of La Solitaire du Figaro. I am looking forwards now to be going places that I have sailed before. Familiarity now is a good thing I have done a couple of Fastnets and so maybe feel a bit more comfortable but I am looking forwards to giving this leg a good run.”

Pep Costa (ESP, Cybele Vacances-Team Play to B): “I am looking forwards to giving my best in some lighter winds to enjoy things and most of all to learn. Learning for me is the most important thing. It will be a long leg going all the way to the west of England and Wales and then to Morlaix. It will be interesting with a lot to learn. That’s what I am here for.”

Tom Dolan (IRL, Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan): “It looks like it will be light. It looks like there will be a split in the fleet at the Casquettes but it was changing all the time on the files this morning. The strategy will be to get south if possible in the Channel. Off the start line you need to be anticipating where the tide will be at the first mark and not get stuck there. When the wind and tide are going the same way there is in effect less wind and so you have to avoid that.”

Alan Roberts (GBR, Seacat Services): “This stage is going to be really different from the others. I feel good, really ready to attack. The first 24 hours are not going to be easy, you have to manage to get away from this coast here, then take the right course to reach the Pullar buoy in England. I feel quite comfortable in these conditions which I like when you have to find speed. I am happy to think I will be back sailing on British waters. Obviously I know the whole south coast of England quite well, but unfortunately we are not going to be close to the shore, sailing through the bays this time.

Pierre Quiroga (FRA, Skipper Macif 2019): “It is nice to have sunshine again at the start. I don’t remember having so much sun on any La Solitaire du Figaro before. It is a pleasure but I am a bit stressed because this is a complicated leg with a lot of light winds, tidal gates and transitions to manage. It will be hard to manage everything perfectly. I think this might be a decisive leg but I want to enjoy it. The forecast has got a bit better than a few days ago with a little more wind coming in.”

Gildas Mahé (FRA, Breizh Cola): “There is good weather and a nice sea and overall pretty calm. There will be very little wind for the first 24 hours, we will surely be carried by the current in the English Channel. Closing to the English coast with the current is not going to be easy. It will be very strategic and quite an open leg.”

Bertrand Pace (coach Lorient Grand Large training centre): “Thus promises to be a difficult stage with light winds at the start but a building breeze for the second part. And a lot will depend on the first part of the race, there is a bit of everything. There are a lot of traps, a lot of transitions and we finish on building tides, the coefficient building to 100 and so there will be strong currents at the finish. The first 36 hours can be crucial.”


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