Photos: Alexis Courcoux

Disaster for Delahaye

Race leader has to return to port at the start of La Solitaire's third leg

Sunday June 22nd 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

There was drama even before the starting pistol had been fired in Roscoff this afternoon. As the fleet of 38 solo sailors prepared to set off on Leg 3 of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard cachemire, Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) broke part of his rigging. The 29 year old had been the overall leader after the first two legs but a problem with his D1 forced Delahaye to return to the dock for repairs.

As Delahaye explained: “Once the cable had broken, I made everything secure, I took a reef in the mainsail. I was not ready to race in the Leg with this damage, especially since we do not know what awaits us in the Bay of Biscay. It is stormy and it can be hard with the sea, I did not want the mast to fall there! I preferred to use the rule to start the race and then return to port on my own and then restart between 2 to 3 hours after the fleet departure. When Yann was dismasted with the same damage, he was leading the Leg! That's it! The Leg will be long, things will happen, even if it is not favourable for me in the first few hours because of the current against me, especially in the Chenal du Four. However, Belle-Ile may be the key to my return. Do not stress over the first 24 hours and I hope that things happen on this Leg.”

Delahaye and his preparateur were able to fix the rigging in Roscoff and he was able to re-start the Leg, including the inshore course at 1600BST.

The race itself started cleanly at 1400BST in around 15 knots of northeasterly breeze and beautiful sunshine. Minutes after the race start Sebastien Simon (Bretagne - Credit Mutuel) collided with the port side of Joan Ahrweiller's boat, (Region Basse-Normandie). The damage was considered too much for Ahrweiller to continue and so the skipper was forced to abandon his second consecutive Solitaire leg.

Delahaye's MACIF team-mate, Yoann Richomme (Skipper Macif 2014) had a good start, leading the fleet around the inshore course. At the Radio France buoy Richomme was still in front, followed by Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) and Vincent Biarnes (Guyot Environnement).

The Brittany coastline offers many opportunities for rock-hopping and a couple of sailors have already used this to their advantage. Adrien Hardy (AGIR Recouvrement) and Frederic Rivet (DFDS Seaways) on their own decided to take a course south of the Ile de Batz and the move appears to have paid off with Hardy climbing from 14th to 1st place and Rivet to second, Richomme is now 3rd.

Of the international skippers, David Kenefick (Full Irish) had the best start. At the Radio France Buoy the Cork sailor was in 7th.

Before the start he spoke of his determination to do well in this leg: “I'm really hungry for this leg, I really want to push to break the top 20, I want to minimise the mistakes in this Leg because in the last Leg I made two big mistakes and they cost me a lot of time so I really just want to minimise the mistakes and that's what it's all about really. It's going to be quite tricky, the first twenty-four hours because I don't think we're going to be able to sleep until the second evening when we get away from the land, when the NE'ly fills back in and we head towards Odas. So it's going to be tricky the second day and you want to be relatively fresh if the breeze shuts down and goes light so it makes it a bit stressful. It should be 14-15 knot norteasterly for the start, possibly a bit more.”

Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) was the first Brit around the Radio France buoy. As of 1640BST Goodchild had moved up to 9th, 0.6nm behind the leader.

The leading rookie after the first two legs, Britain's Sam Matson (Artemis 21) finds himself towards the back of the fleet with Claire Pruvot (Port de Caen Ouistreham) after they missed one of the inshore marks and had to drop their spinnakers to beat back to it.

Prior to the start Matson commented: “To have got two solid results is absolutely awesome, ideally I want to keep it going. I've just been pretty overwhelmed by my results and times. I've done really well so far but I think it's quite important to not let that affect me too much. I've tried to stay away from any kind of results as much as possible, in fact I haven't looked at the official results at all. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and see how that goes, it's worked for me so far.”

The sailors are making the most of the wind as they race along the North coast of Brittany, the wind is likely to have dropped by the time they've reached Belle-Ile off the coast of Quimper. The penultimate Leg of 2014 is likely to be another long one. The fleet is not expected to arrive in Les Sables d'Olonne until late on Wednesday evening.

Overall Positions at 1640BST

1 Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement) 494.1nm to the finish
2 Frederic Rivet (DFDS Seaways) +0.1nm
3 Yoann Richomme (Skipper Macif 2014) +0.2nm
4 Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux) +0.4nm
5 Paul Meilhat (SMA) +0.5nm
6 Vincent Biarnes (Guyot Environnement) +0.5nm
7 Charlie Dalin (Normandy Elite Team) +0.5nm
8 Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) +0.6nm
9 Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) +0.7nm
10 Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) +0.7nm

British / Irish positions at 1640BST

9 Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth)
16 David Kenefick (Full Irish) +0.8nm
17 Nick Cherry (Redshift) +0.8nm
22 Henry Bomby (Red) +1.0nm
26 Jack Bouttell (GAC Pindar) +1.2nm
28 Ed Hill (Macmillan Cancer Support) +1.2nm
30 Rich Mason (Artemis 77) +1.3nm
34 Alan Roberts (Artemis 23) +2.1nm
35 Sam Matson (Artemis 21) +2.2nm


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