Photos: Alexis Courcoux

Yann Elies leads around the Fastnet

Two time winner out in front on leg two of La Solitaire du Figaro

Monday June 16th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Yann Elies (Groupe Queguiner) rounded Fastnet Rock in first place at 1004BST this morning. The two-time Solitaire winner was 8 minutes ahead of Gildas Mahe (Interface Concept) in 2nd and 10 minutes ahead of Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) in 3rd. It had been a tough night for the solo sailors as they had to cope with long periods of very little or no wind but at Fastnet there actually more wind than they had been expecting. The whole fleet is now within 6nm as they race straight from Fastnet to Roscoff.

The leading sailors were some 15nm from the Stags south cardinal buoy at 0400BST when the wind died, and the fleet was becalmed. Yann Elies (Groupe Queguiner) was able to hold on to his lead but the gap between the first and last boat halved, from 14nm yesterday morning to 7nm today. Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement) was able to capitalise on this, climbing from 17th to 5th position.

Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement): "For an hour we stopped completely! Last night there was a little wind and we had nice even cloud cover. I dropped the spinnaker with the north wind and I rose to close in with a small group of boats. The sun rises and I see others. I'm pretty happy with this little leg because I think the wind will go then I wanted to position myself. It will be a real part of the course, you will have to prepare for rounding Fastnet. The problem is that I have not been able to sleep since the beginning of the course and I begin to be very tired.”

After rounding the Stags mark the fleet raced 12nm along the Irish coast to Fastnet. Gybing South early paid off for Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth), with 6nm to Fastnet Rock he was doing around 2kn more than the majority of the fleet following the Irish coastline. In 45 minutes Goodchild had climbed 6 places from 29th to 23rd, by the time he reached Fastnet he was in 21st. It was rookie, Richard Mason (Artemis 77) who was the first Brit to round the rock. Mason passed the iconic lighthouse in 20th, 24 minutes behind Elies.

By 1220BST the whole fleet had passed the Traffic Separation Zone SE of Fastnet and it's now a 260nm drag race to the finish. The fleet is spread 6nm from East to West, Elise on the far East of the fleet, Morvan in the middle. The only real tactical option ahead is at the Traffic Separation Zone West of the Isles of Scilly.

Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012): “It is super tight. I am with Jérémie Beyou and Adiren Hardy. Gildas Morvan is not far but decided to take the helm. I was in good company - top 5/6, that's good news. There will not be many gaps at the finish but for positions it is not clear. The wind will return to the North a little later in the day. For the moment we are doing 6.5kn, we will soon accelerate. There will be several possibilities at the Scillies TSS but until then there will be very little variation in the course for the next 100 miles.”

With all the solo sailors within an hour of each other it is still all to play for. Henry Bomby (Red) is hoping to climb a few places before the Roscoff arrival.

Henry Bomby (Red): “I'm fine, I've got quite a lot of work to do before I get to Roscoff. The time difference between first and last isn't much. We've had less bad wind than we'd been expecting and we've had flat seas. Rounding Fastnet Rock was good, it's pretty impressive and iconic. I took some photos. The flat seas are really helping me in terms of eating and sleeping. Now it's pretty much the same angle the whole way to Roscoff. I can see everyone in the fleet, we're in a straight line”

This afternoon the fleet had 8kn of NE'ly wind. At the moment we are expecting the Solitaire sailors to arrive in Roscoff late tomorrow (Tuesday) night.

Gildas Mahé (Interface Concept): "It will not hurt but now it's quiet! There is constant activity - there are gusts, adjustments, wind changes constantly but then it does not move very quickly! We spend time to set the sails, I spent the night on the helm to keep the boat movinh. You open your eyes to observe puffs and zigzag through it all. Last night there was brightness with the moon, we see in the half darkness, we see the other boats too. It's hard to predict the result, it is 13 miles from the mark with the current speed it may be long, it is possible that we still approach the Fastnet for a long time!”

Jérémie Beyou (Master Coq): "The night was complicated, already passing the Lizard was complicated for me, I went out in the lead at Plymouth and I allowed myself to get a little carried away, I went too near Lizard, I found myself in fifteenth it cost me dearly. Since I've been trying to climb up and up. We were becalmed last night and the fleet is spread in all directions. Me, Gildas Mahé and Yann Elies are trying to keep to the left, sliding up under spinnaker. Sometimes I get angry and sometimes not, I try to remain calm. Here I'm glad I'm not too far from Gildas Mahé and Yann Elies”

Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert): "It's going but it is becalmed! The wind dropped completely, and there was 1kn of wind. It is rather stuffy before more! The sun rises, we will see a little better. It is 11 miles from land, we can hope to have a little heat in the day. It's a bit hard because the wind fell in front and the whole fleet came back, we all butt, that's how that's life, it is the Figaro. I managed to sleep and eat well, I like to get the laughter. It's hard to know when we will pass the Fastnet. “

Overall Positions at 1400BST
1 Yann Eliès (Groupe Queguiner) 248nm to finish
2 Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) (+0.5nm)
3 Corentin Horeau (Bretaagne - Credit Mutuel Performance) (+0.7nm)
4 Adrien Hardy (AGIR Recouvrement (0.7nm)
5 Jérémie Beyou (Maitre Coq) (+0.8nm)
6 Gildas Mahé (Interface Concept) (+0.8nm)
7 Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) (+0.9nm)
8 Corentin Douguet (Un Maillot Pour La Vie) (+1.3nm)
9 Sébastien Simon (Bretagne - Credit Mutuel Espoir) (+1.3nm)
10 Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux) (+1.3nm)

British/Irish Positions at 1400BST

19 Richard Mason (Artemis 77) (+2.4nm)
20 Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) (+2.7nm)
23 David Kenefick (Full Irish) (+3.2nm)
27 Sam Matson (Artemis 21) (+3.4nm)
31 Jack Bouttall (GAC Pindar) (+4.4nm)
32 Ed Hill (Macmillan Cancer Support) (+4.5nm)
33 Nick Cherry (Redshift) (+4.5nm)
35 Alan Roberts (Artemis 23) (+5.2nm)
37 Henry Bomby (Red) (+6.3nm)

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