Photo: Alexis Courcoux

Disappointing second leg

Nick Cherry still holding fifth place in the Generali Solo Mediterranee as fleet reaches Barcelona

Wednesday September 30th 2015, Author: Emma Harris, Location: Spain

After a tough offshore race in which establishing a strong early position in the fleet was the key to success, top British skipper Nick Cherry has slipped two places on the Generali Solo Méditerranée leaderboard.

Arriving in Barcelona after two days of light airs, then big breeze and little sleep, Cherry finished 15th of 22 competitors. His second offshore result sees him now fifth in the overall standings, 47 points behind leader Alexis Loison of France.

With two days of competition still to come Cherry, at the helm of Redshift, is not giving up on his dream of an unprecedented British podium position.

“There are still six inshore races on Friday and Saturday and historically I have performed well in these round the cans races,” a motivated Cherry enthused. “I’m 13 points behind Yoann Richomme in third, so a podium position could still be on the horizon. It’s not over yet.”

He went on to explain how a problem with his water ballast saw Redshift slip back through the fleet in the final hours. “The last night was wild. We had thunderstorm after thunderstorm. I couldn’t fill my ballast, so could do nothing but watch everyone else sail past. It has left a bad taste in my mouth as I’ve worked so hard to get to this point. Hopefully that will turn into determination.”

Sam Matson worked hard to secure a top-10 position, always excelling offshore. After jumping between fifth and 20th on the first day of racing, the Chatham skipper drove hard through the final night to see him finish eighth in Barcelona.

“On the first day I found myself in no wind while everyone else was doing 10 knots of boat speed,” a tired Matson explained. “I lost a lot of miles. I managed to regain places going around Menorca. We had expected a wind shadow around the island but there wasn’t really any effect. While the rest of the fleet played it safe, I took an early gybe and stayed closer to the island and it paid off.”

After two days of glorious Mediterranean sun, rolling waves and surfing under spinnaker, the final hours came as a cruel end for the already exhausted skippers. “The drive north to Barcelona was intense,” Matson continued. “Crashing through giant waves and wrestling in the big wind, the final tight reach turned into a game of chicken – who would drop their kite first. I had no sleep, just drove and changed between spinnakers. Trying to look for a finish line in those conditions before the sun had come up was, challenging.”

Alan Roberts, at the helm of Magma Structures, finished the race one minute and 20 seconds ahead of Cherry in 14th. Feeling satisfied having picked off five places on the way to the finish line, Roberts enjoyed the final blast to the historic Spanish city. “Conditions during the race were glamour, I really enjoyed the sailing,” he said. “The tight reach to the finish line was a lot of fun. I spent a day and a half on the helm just driving the boat forward. It was a really enjoyable leg.”

Frenchman Vincent Biarnes won the final offshore leg from Nice to Barcelona in a time of two days, 14 hours, nine minutes and 30 seconds. A cause for double celebrations on the dock, Biarnes takes away his first Figaro victory since emerging on the Classe Figaro Bénéteau circuit in 2007. From the first mark just 60nm from Nice, his lead extended eight miles on second placed Xavier Macaire and 35 miles on the last Figaro Bénéteau II.

Going into the final two days of Grand Prix inshore racing on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd October in Spain, Cherry sits just shy of the podium in 5th. Matson is also just short of his race goal in 11th, aiming for a top 10 finish in the Generali Solo Méditerranée. Just two places behind, Roberts is 13th.

Leg 2 Generali Solo Méditerranée results:

1. Vincent Biarnès/Guyot Environment/2d 14h 9mn 30s
2. Xavier Macaire/Skipper Hérault)/2d 14h 26mn
3. Yoann Richomme/Skipper Macif 2014/2d 15h 1mn
8. Sam Matson/Chatham/2d 16h 26mn
14. Alan Roberts/Magma Structures/2d 16h 44mn 40s
15. Nick Cherry/Redshift/2d 16h 45mn 20s

Overall Generali Solo Méditerranée results:
Position/Skipper/Boat name/accumulative points

1. Alexis Loison/Groupe Fiva/72
2. Xavier Macaire/Skipper Herault/93
3. Yoann Richomme/Skipper Macif 2014/103
5. Nick Cherry/Redshift/119
11. Sam Matson/Chatham/157
13. Alan Roberts/Magma Structures/191

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