Brits cast off on the Solitaire decider
Eight British Figaro skippers set sail from the stunning French city of La Rochelle in France this evening on the deciding leg of the 2016 Solitaire - Bompard Le Figaro.
With the harbour walls lined with cheering spectators, a samba band setting the tone, and the sun blazing overhead, the atmosphere was electric as the 39 Solitaire competitors made their way to the final startline of this year’s edition.
On the 1900 gun, the Brits made it count. Heading upwind in around 10 knots of breeze, skipper Nick Cherry was the first boat with a Red Ensign at the mark in eighth, after favouring the left side of the course. The green giant Gildas Morvan racing was the last boat off the pontoon and the first boat at the mark.
Speaking ahead of the race, Cherry said:
A 130-mile sprint around Ile de Yeu and back to La Rochelle, Leg 4 is a short course with a big part to play. This final loop will decide the 2016 Solitaire winner, finalise the overall leaderboard and, most importantly for the British camp, determine the coveted Rookie champion.
After three legs and 1,365 grueling solo miles, 22-year-old Will Harris crossed the Leg 4 startline on with an 11-minute advantage at the top of the Rookie division. Earning second place on Leg 1 and a first on Leg 2 in the Rookie division, the young sailor from Surrey has a marginal edge over the chasing Frenchman Pierre Quiroga . However, even after so many miles, it all comes down to the final 100 and it’s all to play for.
Currently 19th in the overall standings, with Quiroga just behind in 20th, Harris was ready for the final battle. Despite feeling tired after yesterday’s Leg 3 finish, the British skipper was in good spirits ahead of the start – still with his eyes fixed firmly on the prize.
Leading the British skippers in the rankings in 16th, Roberts was not underestimating the intensity and impact the final leg would have on the race.
he enthused on the pontoons.
Sustaining damage to his forestay at the start of Leg 3, British Rookie Hugh Brayshaw delivered his boat from Paimpol to La Rochelle and is determined to finish his first Solitaire. Having only started keelboat sailing in September, and at the same time learning to sail solo, Brayshaw has been on a steep learning curve. With his quote after the first leg ringing in his ears “you can’t understand the Solitaire until you’ve raced it,” the skipper has one final objective for the race.
With light-to-moderate breeze forecast for the final stage, the 2016 Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro is expected to conclude late afternoon tomorrow in La Rochelle.