Photo: Alexis Courcoux

Leg two to restart today

La Solitaire du Figaro in a holding pattern in La Coruna

Wednesday June 10th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

On Monday Leg 2 of the Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire was annulled due to heavy weather and following the dismasting of Corentin Horeau’s Figaro 2, Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance. The Race Committee, having assessed the situation on the water, agreed that the safety of the skippers was paramount and the leg should be stopped. The fleet diverted to La Coruña in Spain, while the decision to restart a shortened course was made.

Speaking on his decision to annul the Leg, Race Director, Gilles Chiorri commented: “When we started from Sanxenxo to Concarneau, we all knew that the weather forecast was quite tough, but that’s not abnormal for a Figaro race. We were expecting 25-35 knots, gusting 40, but we received a new weather forecast predicting 45 knot gusts at Cape Ortegal which is quite an infamous place and difficult to sail. On top of that, we had a major failure on one of the boats, and the same failure at Cape Ortegal [in the dark] would bring some major issues, so I’d prefer to put safety first. This means that we’re annulling Leg 2 in light of the weather and we will rerun the Leg tomorrow, starting from La Coruña, in better conditions.”

Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance’s dismasting became the catalyst for the Race Director’s decision, highlighting the difficulties of the rapidly worsening weather. With skipper safety and minimising damage to the boats top priorities, the Solitaire du Figaro fleet will wait in La Coruña until Wednesday 10 June, when Leg 2 will restart.

The break in the race has been well received among the skippers. Having spent the first 24 hours of the race soaked through, battling heavy upwind conditions, the British Academy competitors have been more than happy to rest on land, spending the night in a comfy hotel bed and enjoying a hearty breakfast in the morning.

The restart also affords a fresh opportunity for the skippers trailing the back of the fleet, since the passage from Sanxenxo to La Coruña will not be counted towards final finishing times. For the skippers leading the race, the decision to suspend the race is a frustrating one – their hard work and efforts in the challenging conditions now counting for nothing.

Chatham skipper Sam Matson had been climbing the ranks – after leaving Sanxenxo in 30th place, he was in a top ten position by the time the decision to abort was announced: “I’m pretty devastated to be honest. I can understand why they did it – it could’ve been another boat quite easily losing their mast at the same time. They had a lot of potential problems on their hands. Boats were scattered around Cape Finisterre, which wasn’t very safe from the Race Director’s point of view. I was in a great place as well, which makes it even more frustrating, but safety first. I’m grateful that everyone is okay. There are people in front of me who are probably just as frustrated as I am.”

The fleet will depart La Coruña at 1300 CET Wednesday. The new Leg 2 is a 330 mile course that takes the sailors directly to La Cournouaille [Concarneau], across the Bay of Biscay, with an ETA of late Friday 12 June.

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