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Cherry is top Brit on leg three; Macaire incurs penalty and Richomme still leads

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After 410 miles of intense solo racing around the Brittany coast and on the Bay of Biscay, 37 Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro skippers crossed the Leg 3 finish line today in La Rochelle just minutes apart following nearly three days of racing.

Two minutes separated top British finisher Nick Cherry (Redshift) in 13th and Alan Roberts (Alan Roberts Racing) in 15th , with Will Harris (Artemis 77) finishing third Rookie.

Although unlucky for some, Cherry was happy with his result. Setting off from Paimpol in a solid third position, the 31-year old from Southampton set himself up well on the leg and stayed close to the top-10 for the duration – his best performance yet.

“When it all goes right it’s quite simple,” he laughed, visibly tired after no sleep for 24 hours. “I started alright, then Alan (Roberts) and I caught a good shift on the first beat and managed to get away on a lucky break at Ushant."

“It’s all swings and roundabouts with this race,” he continued. “Heading into the long leg across the Bay of Biscay, we didn’t know whether we were going to cross the ridge or sail around the outside of it, but we managed to cross the only patch of no wind and slow up. We had a bit of a shuffle just before the BXA mark and I guess it’s only fair that the guys who got left behind at Ushant had a chance to catch up. Overall I’m happy with how I came out of the leg.”

With three legs down and just one 130-mile coastal sprint to go, Roberts leads the eight Brits in the overall rankings in 16th position. Despite his goal of a top-five finish looking out of reach, the determined skipper will fight with everything he’s got to the finish.

“I’m happy to be the top Brit, but it would be nice to be ahead of a few more of the Frenchies as well,” Roberts joked on the dock. “But we’ve got one more leg to go, and anything can happen.”

Asked about the quick turnover time between Legs 3 and 4 Roberts replied, “I’m hoping I’ll be a bit more rested than I am now, but you can never be rested enough after what we’ve been doing. It’s been a tough race.”

Three places and 12 minutes behind Roberts, Robin Elsey and the newly repaired Artemis 43 finished Leg 3 in 19th position, now 22nd overall.

In the ‘Bizuth’ or rookie division, Frenchman Pierre Quiroga racing Skipper Espoir CEM once again claimed the Rookie top spot in 16th, finishing 16 minutes ahead of Harris in 21st. Although now 2-1 to Quiroga, Harris still maintains his overall Rookie lead by 11 minutes and 14 seconds. With just 130 miles of the 2016 Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro left to race, Leg 4 will be the decider.

“The competition with Pierre is really intense, but I’ve realised that I can’t focus just on what he’s doing in a race like this,” said Harris. “I’ll be keeping an eye on him during Leg 4 for sure, but it would be too hard to spend my leg covering him.”

Moving on to tomorrow’s restart, Harris said, “Going into Leg 4 with one night’s sleep will be better than no sleep like we’ve had on these last legs. Hopefully that rest will be enough to get me round the course. It’s the last night of the Solitaire after all, so I’ll see what I can do.”

After taking a late gamble in the east on route to the finish line, a disappointed Sam Matson racing Chatham finished the third stage in 22nd, after occupying both 11th and then fifth position earlier today. Matson’s Leg 3 result sees him 21st on the overall leaderboard. #SeaChange skipper Andrew Baker finished in 30th, while Rookie Mary Rook racing Artemis 23 is about to finish in 33rd.

In a dramatic twist to the end of the race, Leg 3 winner Xavier Macaire racing Chemins d’Oceans was awarded an eight-minute penalty for a broken seal on his fire extinguisher – a devastating blow for the skipper who over the final hours of the race climbed from 20th to first.

Charlie Dalin, sailing Skipper Macif 2015, now moves into the leg winner position, putting the 32-year-old second on the overall leaderboard. Dalin sits just 14 minutes behind his Skipper Macif teammate Yoann Richomme in first.

After 1,365 miles of solo racing, the 2016 Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro skippers have just 130 miles to go. With only 24 hours between the end of this stage and the beginning of the final leg, competitors will spend their time, eating sleeping and looking at charts before the grand finale gets underway at 1800 tomorrow.

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