Published on 16/09/2020
With 50 nautical miles to the Stage 3 finish line at Saint Nazaire at 0730hrs the La Solitaire du Figaro fleet has compacted through the small hours last night as the north easterly breeze, blowing off the shore, rose and fell. Pacemaker Yann Eliès (Quéguiner Materiaux-Leucémie Espoir) is doing all he can to hold off a voracious chasing pack after seeing his three miles lead over Britain’s Sam Goodchild (Leyton) cut to less than one mile.
It promises to be a thrilling final sprint at the end of what has been a slow, challenging marathon stage from Dunkirk. The leading ten boats are within two miles of leader Eliès who is chasing his seventh stage win and the possibility of becoming the first sailor to win La Solitaire du Figaro four times.
But overall leader Armel Le Cléac’h, the only other skipper in this 33 boat fleet to have won La Solitaire du Figaro before, is poised 2.4 miles behind his perennial rival Eliès. Crucially Le Cléac’h has his time on Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) who is third this morning, racing side by side with Goodchild. This will be a race against the clock as much as a race between skippers and that means making a priority of sailing fast in clean air, there is no scope for slowing or covering anyone else.
Goodchild may be on the cusp of setting new La Solitaire records for British skippers, in line for a second podium, but this morning’s sprint for the line, albeit in a modest 6-9kts breeze, sees an unprecedented four internationals in the top ten, Goodchild in second, Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) in seventh, Phil Sharp (OceansLab) in eighth and Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) in ninth, all less than two miles from the leader. Latest routings suggest a finish around 15hrs local time.
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