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Brilliant routeing and excellent speed in the Irish Sea and… Jérémie Beyou (BPI) takes the lead on the third leg of the Solitaire du Figaro 2011. The fleet passed Wolf Rock early afternoon and has now to tackle with the complicated Channel crossing and the even more delicate approach to Brittany. 

The Lorient based skipper, and provisional overall race leader, at 15:38:33 crossed in first the line between Wolf Rock lighthouse and Runnel Stone mark, taking the Grand Prix GMF Assistance for the second time in a row. Jérémie Beyou (BPI) was followed a handful of minutes later by Nicolas Lunven (Generali) and by first leg winner, Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham). Strong Jersey sailor Phil Sharp on The Spirit of Independence scored the best performance among the non-French group, crossing in tenth position, and was also first rookie to go past Wolf Rock. Portoguese Francisco Lobato (Roff) , was 16th, Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) 27th, Sam Goodchild (artemis) the youngest skipper competing, 30th and Conrad Humpreys (DMS) 34th.

After reaching for 24 hours, the 46 solo sailors are now beginning the Channel crossing on an upwind tack, in a south-westerly of around 10 to 12 knots heading to Ouessant. On this long stretch, where speed will be crucial, the key tactical option will be to arrive either to the Four or the Fromveur channel with the right current, tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Close encounters

As the Solitaire skippers were rounding the GMF mark at Wolf Rock another huge fleet was sailing in the same area, on opposite tacks. Some 300 boats from the Rolex Fastnet Race were on their way to Land’s End. French sailor David Sineau, who had to abandon the race shortly after the start of the second leg and who was racing on one of the Fastnet boats, fully crewed this time, immediately spotted his fellow solo skippers. Words of encouragement were exchanged on the VHF, before the two fleets took separate ways. 

Hello Les Sables d’Olonne

The organising staff arrived today to Les Sables d’Olonne, where the weather is far more summer like than in Ireland. The Solitaire du Figaro race village has opened to the public which already is coming in big numbers. In Port Olona, the marina that every four years welcomes the Vendée Globe, the world-famous non stop solo round the world race, everything is ready for the 46 skippers who will probably start to come in on Wednesday morning.

Jérémie Beyou (BPI)
“I knew that the start could be tough and it was. I made a good choice, going down along the Irish coast and I managed to come out right. Same for last night, I was on the right track. It’s a game of little adjustments, every now and then. One had to hoist and take down the spinnaker at the right time, and I had noted that down on my notebook… I took it down before anyone else. Generally speaking when I take an option I tend not to look too much at what the others do, all I think of is “my” wind and “my” route. Nicolas Lunven has been close behind me since the start, I could have decided to keep an eye on him, but I did go my way. I hope that the wind will not die, as now is going down. I have to decide how to approach Ouessant and Four, calculate at what time we’ll be there, and choose the course, considering the current too. I’m going to be busy…”

Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence)
“I'm tired, much more tired than I expected to be on the first night. Maybe I'm not that well rested. I'm pleased on how things started, now I'm hooked into the race, hanging on to the first ten and to the top pack, I'm very determined and optimistic. I expect probably the wind to come round and get into that wind most across the Channel and hopefully not the bad way, it's going to be a lot less wet than when we came North.”

Nicolas Lunven (Generali)
“Had fantastic conditions last night, full moon, dolphins, fast downwind under spinnaker. Now, we're approaching Land’s End. It's good to be in the game, and it's even better to sail in these conditions and not in a rainstorm! I haven't slept much, just a little bit in the early morning, the wind went down so I don't think I will be able to take a nap, maybe later. Now it's important to manage well the approach to Land’s End: offshore or inshore, you never know what's going to happen. Then, what can we expect? Getting to the mer d’Iroise looks like it's going to be tricky… “

Francisco Lobato (Roff)
“I had a very good night: managed to sleep, but not too much. Those who were more windward went by me and Gildas (Morvan). From the forecast I had it looked like it was better to stay offshore, but in the end it was the other way round. Now it's important to be in the first pack, among the leading 15 boats at Wolf Rock. I need also to deal with the tidal current and the wind was further South than I expected: we have to be careful because the situation is trickier than what the forecast says...”

Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) 
“Race is not over yet, and it feels good to be in the first group with Nicolas and Jérémie. The first night was as we expected it to be. I started well but later boats were going past me from everywhere. I was the first one to hoist the spinnaker and to take it down, which allowed me to make up some ground. And to sleep, earlier today. Jérémie is really fast and sails well. We should go across the Channel with a SW, a bit stiffer than we have now. Hopefully we will get the chance to take it easy: it will be a matter of navigation, trimming and speed.”

Anthony Marchand (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Espoir) 
“Everything ok onboard, is not surprising how things went on this first part of the leg, apart from the start and the run along the Irish coast. I'm a bit disappointed because Fabien (Delahaye) got past me. Wind is light and I'm leeward of the fleet, hopefully it will be better in the Channel! Nothing is set, there's still much to play for on the approach to Brittany and also at the Sein. Last night it was pleasant: full moon and it was not too cold...”

See here for the La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 website.

See here for the La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 Facebook page.

*** *** ***

At precisely 12:00 on Sunday 14th August, the Race Committee fired the start signal of the third leg of the Solitaire du Figaro, 477 miles from Dún Laoghaire to Les Sables d’Olonne, as public crowded the pier to wave goodbye to the sailors and dozens of boats enjoyed the show. But soon the sunny, warm, pleasant conditions sunny gave way to the rain, wind gusts and a roulette game for the 46 skippers.

Who thought that the most thrilling part of the third leg would be the finish? It’s maybe too soon to tell, but clearly the 8 mile long inshore course and the following run along the green Irish cliffs delivered enough surprises for a whole leg, with continuous changes at the top. 

This morning on the pontoons of Dun Laoghaire, an unusual fatigue marked the sailors’ faces, as everyone talked about the latest weather forecast. The hint was “be wary” of the apparent simplicity of the 477 miles to Les Sables. And wary they had to be since the very first minutes of the inshore race the situation appeared to be not the simplest one. 
In extremely tricky conditions, breeze shifting, coming from all directions and going from 5 to 15 knots in a matter of seconds, it was hard for the sailors to "read" on the water where the next puff was going to come from and going from the top to the bottom of the fleet was just a question of not be stuck in a bubble of light air. 
 
At the Radio France mark a trio formed by Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham), Vincent Biarnes (Prati’Bûches) and Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire) had a huge lead on the rest of the fleet, but then shortly later everything changed dramatically. As confirmed by Jeanne Gregoire’s word: “For once I started well but now I’m trailing at the back of the fleet. It’s a mess but you have to have fun anyway…When I was going downwind under spinnaker to the Radio France mark, I crossed Isa (Isabelle Joschke) and I told her: don’t  worry there is always the CLS ranking. I had two or three miles lead on her but she just flew past me… Now I’ve got 25 knots and two minutes ago I had 2!”

According to the latest position report, at 16:00 it was Portuguese Francisco Lobato (ROFF) to have a slight advantage on experienced Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) and on overall leaderboard leader Jérémie Beyou (BPI). First British skipper was reported to be young Sam Goodchild (Artemis) in fourteenth position and third in the special newcomers’ “rookie” standing, chased by Jersey based Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence), also racing his first Solitaire du Figaro. Conrad Humphreys (DMS) was in 21st position while Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) in 42nd.

Up to the next mark at Wolf Rock (at the tip of Cornwall), that is to say over the next 180 miles, it is likely that the fleet will keep on sailing on a long starboard tack and positioning oneself well on the course will be key.
But, for now it’s impossible to say who will take the best option. The answer will only be known tomorrow, around noon, when the sailors will be approaching the Scilly Islands. 

Skippers’ quotes

Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham): “An Irish kind of start…”
“Another Irish kind of start… Actually it’s like starting all it over again. We had light wind, current, rainstorms. It’s not so funny, I’m no longer in the lead. I hope this is going to settle and the wind stops to do the yo-yo, as long as we’re we’re sailing leeward of the Irish coast you have to get what you get.”

Vincent Biarnes (Prati’Bûches): “Now it is gone”
“The breeze has been increasing since we passed the Radio France mark. Fabien and I we had such a lead, but now, it is gone. The wind turned so quickly, could not manage to take the spinnaker down and the boat was going her own way! It’s very shifty and the air coming down the cliffs is strong and gusty. Fabien overtook me just before the mark, he got a better puff and jumped ahead, no more than ten seconds enough to cross the line in front of me.”

Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) on the eve of the start commented:
“I’m quite pleased for how things are going actually. It’s great to be up there with the front group, I’ve had a bit of a heck just before the finish of the last leg, lost lots of places there but I’m very confident on how things have gone. I’ll try and keep it going, hopefully finish in the top ten another couple of times, it would be very nice. Keep things clean, that’s what we have to do in this race. Keep the pace and be consistent, make the right decision make sure you don’t burn yourself up for the finish. We’re probably going to have south westerly so it’s going to be reaching or close reaching, not much chance to use our spinnaker, not until we get to Brittany, and it’s going to be tactical all the way. Some very interesting choices to make and particularly when we look at the time we will be approaching the raz de Sein which are crucial points to go around. That tack could change everything in the race, if you make a mistake there it can be very costly. Hopefully the tide will be with us, otherwise we won’t be moving very quickly. I think you have to do a strategy to minimize the risk. I’m going to go for speed but keep risk very light. It’s just not all or nothing. Having yourself in the top ten near the finish and making sensible decision to keep in there… Better than going for a wild strategy early on and then find yourself in the back of the fleet and be forced to make up two hours.”

Sam Goodchild (Artemis)
“Looks like there will be less wind so it will be more racing than survival. That should be good, hopefully we keep moving all the time, but it’s not guaranteed at the moment. I've got my spinnakers back. I don't really know why they keep breaking. We've reinforced everything we know that might break it and we've just got to try not to break them through Leg 3. I’ve learned a lot about management in the previous leg, learning about yourself, the boat, how to go fast, get the right way, it’s a steep learning curve. Generally it’s enjoyable, it’s up and downs, you try to enjoy it, sailing is what I want to do so….”

See here for the La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 website.

See here for the La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 Facebook page.


*** *** ***

The 46 skippers are profiting from the quiet and relaxed atmosphere in Dún Laoghaire to recover from a very tough second leg. Each has his or her own way of recharging the batteries… a massage, a pint of Guinness, some shots on the green, a little jazz or a rugby match on TV.

Not many Solitaire skippers were on the pontoons today. As some are seeing the physiotherapists, who are working around the clock on the tired muscles, others are planning to spend a couple of hours to visit Dublin’s historical city centre, some solo sailors relax just enjoying a beer and a quiet moment on the terrace of the National Yacht Club. Some of the most energetic ones, like race veterans Jean Paul Mouren and Gildas Morvan, opt for one or two rounds on one of the world-famous Irish golf courses. There is a rugby match to watch on TV, with a particular meaning to all, as it’s France v. Ireland. And, Alexis Loison, who turns 27 today plans to have a very special birthday celebration.
 
And while the sailors try to get in top form again during the short stopover in Ireland, shore teams and sail makers are very busy before the start of leg three, suffice to say that during the crossing from Caen to Dún Laoghaire, no less than 24 spinnakers and 7 jibs were damaged.

Still, everyone seems to be greatly enjoying the friendly atmosphere in Dún Laoghaire, where the skippers were welcomed by the famous Irish warmness.

Sam Goodchild (Artemis): on his coming to Ireland, commented: “I got a very warm welcome, it was great to be greeted on the water, the people are friendly, its nice and relaxed. I’m looking forward to taking it easy and enjoying the jazz festival in Dùn Laoghaire”

Conrad Humpreys’ (DMS): comments are as positive as his fellow countryman’s: “This part of Ireland I've been to a few times, the yacht club here hosted us for several weeks during the Round Ireland Race. The craic is brilliant, it's great fun, very lovely people. There's a lot of interest in this race in Ireland, it always has a strong presence here.”

Paul Meilhat (Macif 2011): "I slept 18 hours flat out. We had such a lovely welcome, like we always get when we go to Ireland. Great warm meal with a cold beer upon arrival. I went to bed on Wednesday at lunchtime planning on getting up for dinner later. I asked Fabien, Jimmy and Eric if they could wake me up to go. I thought they forgot me but in fact they tried, they knocked on my door, called me from the reception, managed to get a key card for my hotel room and came in. They shook me but just could not wake me up. I woke up at 10 am this morning after sleeping 17 or 18 hours. It was purely the hunger that got me up in the end!”

Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics): “It's good to be in Ireland, it's always nice to come here, I'm looking forward to a Guinness tonight, haven't had one yet! In the 2007 Solitaire we went to Cork and in 2009 we went to Dingle, now Dublin, it's always a great experience.”

Today, Alexis Loison (Port Chantereyne Cherboug-Octeville) celebrates his 27th birthday in Ireland: "I may eat fish and chips with a candle on it, have a beer tonight to celebrate!  For once, I'm onshore and not alone at sea for my birthday. Taking stock of this second leg, my spinnaker is at the sail doctor being mended, physically my back hurts this morning and now I am on the waiting list to the one of the physiotherapists who are all busy today.  I have to just really try and make the most of opportunities that come my way.  This last leg I really had to work hard to climb up a few places so I am not too unhappy with my results.

While Loïc Le Garrec (Saveurs d’Evenements) turned 38 yesterday: "I could not really make the most of my birthday yesterday at the finish of the race. In fact, for the past three years, I have spent my birthday in the Irish Sea. I woke up alone at 1 am and by then it was too late to go for a drink with everyone. I was truly shattered after the race. It was a particularly hard one.” 

Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert): "Time to cheer up with a round of golf in Ireland and prepare to watch the France v. Ireland rugby match" "In 15 year editions of racing in the Figaro, I've never ripped a spinnaker. So I was not expecting it. Being let down by the material is not easy to accept. On this race I blew both my spinnakers. The bigger one first and then I hoisted the smaller one only to see it rip. I ended up sailing with my genoa off the spinnaker pole for 20 miles. It really was quite miserable and the results are hard to swallow. I am ready now to put that behind me and enjoy a tour of Dublin followed by a round of golf. Then there is the France v. Ireland rugby match to watch on Saturday.”

Yannig Livory gets the chicken pox! On the second leg, around reaching Cherbourg area, the skipper of One Network Energies started to fee ill. Spots started to appear all over his body, which caused severe itching. He felt completely run down and permanently cold. "I was just shattered and everything itches. It was just awful with the wet weather gear on. The doctors diagnostic in Ireland is: I have chicken pox...I suppose that at 45, it is never too late!

Penalties for leg 2

The jury gathered on Thursday 11th of August to decide the outcome of 10 cases put forward at the end of the second leg of La Solitaire du Figaro. Yanning Livory (One Network Energies) and Maurice Tannyères Louis (St Ericsson) get a one hour penalty applied for not completing the course correctly: they sailed round the wrong side of Mullins Island on the shore side just two miles from the finish. Yoann Richomme (DLBC), Isabelle Joschke (Galettes Saint Michel) and Damien Guillou (La Solidarite Mutualiste) get a 25 minute penalty for broken propellor shaft seals. Finally, Sam Goodchild (Artemis), Sébastien Picault (Kickers) and Xavier Macaire (Starter ActiveBridge) each get a 5 minutes penalty for a broken safety gauge seal. These penalties do not change the order of the overall standing for the top 10 positions.

See here for the La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 website.

See here for the La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 Facebook page.

*** *** ***

The 2005 Solitaire du Figaro champion crossed the finish line Dún Laoghaire not only to win the second leg but take the overall lead in the four-stage sailing race.  Nicolas Lunven, the 2009 champion was second with Adrien Hardy, who won the stage to Ireland in 2010, third.  Morgan Lagravière, was top rookie in 6th.  The first of the four British sailors, Phil Sharp, was 23rd, just over an hour behind the leader.
 
The pewter grey skies cleared briefly to let some bright sun through to spotlight the first Figaro on the horizon and reveal the breakaway leader of the 46 solo sailors competing on the second of four legs that make up La Solitaire du Figaro race.  The second leg, 440 miles from Caen to Dún Laoghaire close to Dublin on the East coast of Ireland, set off last Sunday and took just over 65 hours for the winner to complete.  Jérémie Beyou (BPI), blew his spinnaker in the shifty breeze just a couple of miles from the finish, but had been surfing downwind at a blistering average of 14 knots, whilst keeping a close eye on his pursuers as he helmed his boat to victory at 10:15 in the morning.  The successful and experienced French solo sailor, averaged 6.7 knots over the 65 hours and 25 minutes and 16 seconds. He was both jubilant and exhausted upon arrival.  
 
Nicolas Lunven sailing on Generali from France was just under 20 minutes later in second place with Adrien Hardy on Agir Recouvrement finishing third a further 18 minutes astern.  Members of the National Yacht Club, international visiting media, and support shore crew welcomed the skippers on the arrival pontoon with champagne to celebrate.  Rookie, or first time participant to complete the gruelling race was Morgan Lagravière in an impressive 6th.  
The four British entries, was headed by Phil Sharp on Spirit of Independence in 23rd, just over an hour behind the leader then Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) in 32nd, Sam Goodchild, the youngest skipper at just 21, Sam Goodchild was 33rd  in Artemis, and Conrad Humphreys (DMS) in 40th just over two hours behind the winner.  Francisco Lobato on Roff, who comes from Portugal, finished in 28th place.
 
The race was really tough and  the conditions, with upwind sailing though squalls, strong tidal currents and rocky channels at the start, were truly demanding. But the adrenaline rush come back for the downwind overnight reach up the Irish Sea to the finish.  
 
All 46 competitors remain in Dún Laoghaire Harbour until the start of leg three on Sunday 14th of August: 475 miles from Dublin to Les Sables d’Olonne in France.
 
Jérémie Beyou (BPI) – winner in Dún Laoghaire after 440 miles racing from Caen: “Oh my, it feels good to get to the finish line… and in first. I’ve worked a lot for this race and sometimes it just pays off. It’s not easy to be in front and stay there. All in all I feel very happy. Winning is something magical, impossible to explain what you feel, it’s just great. It was a though one, squalls at the start and at the finish…it looked like it was going to last forever.  The wind on the last part was coming in from all over the place, shifting continuously.  My big spinnaker just exploded in the final miles of the race, but then I guess it was taking its revenge as I treated it so badly! And the boat too, I reckon Fanch (his shore team ed. note) is going to be busy with the repairs. Last night there were three of us, Nico Lunven, Erwan Tabarly and myself sailing side by side… I really took the gamble by going along the coast on the most direct route, not an easy decision to sail so close to the Irish coastline.  We all knew it was going to be a hard race.  I was the first one to hoist the spinnaker yesterday, the others were waiting and I said to myself: Go Beyou, you can do it!  I did not sleep much on the first night and on the first day either. It was impossible, but I had some rest on the second one, sailing along under the southern British coastline towards Lands End. O would not quite call what I had sleep; it was more like a few siestas on deck to keep an eye on Erwan Tabarly.
 
Morgan Lagravière (Vendée) sixth and first rookie to finish in Dún Laoghaire 41 minutes and 59 seconds behind the winner: "It's been the toughest leg I've ever sailed. Three hard days and nights in strong wind and choppy sea and not progressing much... I can't say it was fun, I wanted to sail well but it was also frightening, downwind with 35 knots! It was not easy to keep the boat going straight. I'm obviously happy with my result but I need to rest, eat and take a break, think about something different. Honestly,. I'm glad to get into the game, these are very special and interesting races, but they're so tough! It was hard since the very start in Caen and then I was helming all the time. At the finish, when you are already tired, it's not easy to sail under spinnaker in 30 knots, boats surfing at 18: amazing! One realizes that it is so easy to fall overboard, when the boat is rocking and jumping. I've started this project with Vendée and I would do anything to race well, even if it's cold, the food is awful, no sleep and you end up totally exhausted. It's nice to be back ashore and put things into perspective: I'm more experienced now and I got a good result."
 
Francisco Lobato (ROFF) from Portugal finishes 28th and 1 hour 46 minutes and 26 seconds behind the winner: “This second leg was not much better than the first one. I started well, but then almost all my options were not right and I kept loosing ground on the leaders. Between Land’s End and the St George Channel I decided to go East, it didn’t pay off… Only on the final downwind part, while approaching the finish, I managed to climb back some ten/twelve places by staying more inshore. I can’t say I’m happy with the result.”
 
Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence) – first Briton to finish in Dún Laoghaire: « It was a hard race, it was very testing in certain places but they were actually very exciting and enjoyable conditions. I hit a particularly good set of waves and I was just
Surfing along at 18knots for about half a minute. Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable, we’re all insane! »
 
Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) and Sam Goodchild (Artemis) were fighting neck-and-neck for much of the leg:  “We had a chat last night, we were close enough to talk to each other! I’ve had a better leg than last leg but I didn’t sail the first eighteen hours very well. I don’t know what’s going on, I lost a lot of time in the first twenty-four hours and then spend the rest of the race trying to figure out how to recover.”
 
Conrad Humphreys (DMS) decided to stay to the right fleet to avoid an area of high pressure initially forecast, but now questions that decision: “I realised I’d made a mistake by not crossing over to the Irish coast early enough but I’m happy, we’ve got here in one piece and I’m still in very close contention with the rest of the pack, so that’s the most important thing. I love Ireland and I’m sure there’s a very good pint of Guinness waiting for me!”
 
Sam Godchild (Artemis) whose decision to tack early upon rounding the Channel Islands: “That was a bad idea, I got my timings wrong. There were three big tactical decisions, the first two I made were wrong which was disappointing and I think I could have done better in this leg. The third was ok and I made up for a lot of time lost after Land's End.”

*** *** ***

There has been plenty of action in the first 24 hours of racing on the second leg of La Solitaire du Figaro from Caen to Dún Laoghaire, Dublin.  Jean-Pierre Nicol, racing on board Bernard Controls moves into the lead following the bold decision to race in close to shore through the rocky area round the Cherbourg peninsula this morning, whilst David Sineau (Britanie Cosmetiques) is forced to abandon the race as a result of the damage suffered after hitting the rocks close to Barfleur.  Twenty to twenty five knots of established breeze from the West, North-West continues to propel the fleet on the upwind slog across the English Channel towards Land's End, the next point of passage, where the leaders are expected late Monday and early hours of Tuesday morning.  

Soon after Sunday's start the fleet was hit by a strong squall which left Louis Maurice Tannyères (St. Ericsson) with a ripped genoa and the accompanying French Naval Patrol ship, PSP Cormoran salvaging some drifting paddlers and holidaying fisherman from being swept out into the Channel. Overnight the solo sailors covered the first 120 miles from Caen across the Cotentin coastline, round the Cherbourg peninsula and down between Sark and Hern to round Guernsey a relatively strong 25 knots of wind, gusting 35.  Local knowledge of the tricky tidal currents and rocky seaboard came in handy as the fleet negotiated the complicated passages; Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) being the boldest to sail on the inside of the Gros du Raz lighthouse through a very narrow channel in rough seas.  The gamble paid off to give him a mile advantage over the chasing pack.

Fourteen miles now separate the fleet laterally, with Eric Peron (Macif 2009, 17th and 2.6 miles from the leader) positioned furthest out to the West and Sam Goodchild (Artemis, 36th and 5.4 miles from the leader) out on the Eastern side.  Average boat speeds have slowed to just over 6 knots as they make headway to Land's End.  “We have clear blue skies this afternoon with a swell and choppy seas, 20 to 25 knots of established breeze ” described Jacques Caraës, the Race Director from the sea. “I imagine that now is the time for the solo sailors to try and get some rest in, let the autopilot do its job for a bit in the upwind conditions.  There will be one more tack to realign and pass round Land's End which we should reach late tonight or early hours of the morning Tuesday”, he continues.

Jérémie Beyou (BPI), Frédéric Duthil (Sepalumic), the rookie sailor Morgan Lagravière (Vendée),  in 4th,  Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat), Eric Drouglazet (Luisina), Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert), and a list that reads like the Who's Who of Figaro sailing race are within a few hundred yards of each other as they continue to make inroads on the 290 miles that remain to the finish in Dún Laoghaire.  Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) is the first British sailor, currently lying in 15th place and just 2.2 miles from the leader.  Anthony Marchand (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Espoir), who reported a non-functioning autopilot shortly after the start, holds to 28th with a 4.3 mile deficit. With twelve miles now separating the leader from the trailing boat, Sébastien Picault on Kickers, the time gap under the current 6 knots of average boat speed, builds to two hours.

The 40 strong members of the shore operations and race management have arrived to Dun Laoghaire's National Yacht Club to prepare for the arrival of the 46 skippers expected on Wednesday 10th of August.

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