They said before the start of Leg 3
“Saying I’m back in the game would be using the term very loosely for the elapsed time regarding the overall ranking. It was great to go out on that leg and actually prove what I can do. I’m more than happy with that leg, and so are my sponsors (Chatham). I’m looking for good positions in the next couple of legs as well. The time will be very difficult to get back. There would have to be major splits in the leg to gain but looking at the weather it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Time and overall rankings will be difficult to get back but I wan’t to enjoy the next couple of legs. I want to get into good positions and push the boat well. I know where I made a couple of mistakes so hopefully I can improve on that.
The Solitaire is a tough race, you can’t afford to make a mistake in a leg or to have gear failure – like I did in Leg 1 – so now I just want to go out there and smash it. It’s going to be a disappointing finish overall no matter what. But that’s the Figaro. As long as I can come away happy about how I performed when things went well. I could look back with 3 Solitaires under my belt with some good positions in each one.
Physically I feel good with no muscle fatigue or back problems. Psychologically I’m tired… It’s easy when you get back ashore to fall back into day-to-day life. Waking up at 8:30 – 9am and staying up until 11pm. It’s quite bad for your rhythm because no matter what you are fatigued and building on that kind of sleep depravation throughout the event. Going into this leg, the first night will be interesting with an evening start. Sailors will have been hanging around all day and then you are shot into an evening start when your body clock is telling you to go to sleep. With the course that stands at the moment navigation shouldn’t be to bad so it could be the main challenge of the leg. The weather forecasts aren’t showing any kind of splits. Managing your sleep will be more important than ever during this leg.
With the way the 4 legs are laid out starting from tomorrow you have to get the 4th leg in mind. You shouldn’t really think of it like that but still. The last leg will be a sprint 24h after we arrive in La Rochelle so I’m going to manage my sleep so I’ll be able to go until Thursday night. I don’t want to lose positions related to my sleep. It’s all over after Thursday night, you can sleep as much as you like after that, might as well push yourself a little more.”
“Since we’ve been here I’ve had 2 13h nights – almost 3 nights of sleep in 2 nights – so sleep-wise I’m ok. I injured my knee on the first leg but I’ve been stretching it ever since. Combined with lots of visits to the physio and anti-inflammatory it helps getting it back in shape.
The next leg is the last long one. The last one – even if you are tired – you can push yourself hard and push trough. It doesn’t matter if you can’t walk or can’t see. If you cross the finish line with some energy still in you that means that you didn’t push yourself enough.
I look at the race in 3 sections:
- Going along the north coast - that we just sailed along – on our way to Ushant. It’s fetchy and upwind so quite tactical.
- The second section is going around the corner where we will have to deal with a lot of tide. Lots of things could be happening.
- Finally downwind to La Rochelle which should be nice and quite quick.
Halfway down there’s a ridge in the Bay of Biscay that should make things interesting. The leaders will get there first and will slow down while the rest of the fleet will catch up. The first boat out of the ridge will be the first to catch the new breeze and it will give him a good advantage.
Marks make a course more interesting because you play more with the tide, the fleet and manoeuvres. This upcoming leg being straight A to B is quite nice. You can watch the miles to the finish tick away, which is quite satisfying.
At this stage I don’t think you can pick out people in the fleet our race the fleet to beat them. You want to sail the fastest to La Rochelle like if you were alone. No rankings change should come out of Leg 4 because it’s such a short leg.
This morning I took a 25m penalty for breaking the propeller sail. So to catch Robin it’s just over half an hour that I could do in he next Leg or two. Sam is 1h30 ahead. I know it’s not good to pick out rivals but it would be good to beat Robin. Getting close to Sam would be nice.
“Physically I’m getting there. Last leg was pretty brutal… It’s how you get on with these things that’s important. Moving on and putting everything that has happened so far in the race behind me is what is best at the moment.
These things happen, they happen to everyone (talking about his crash) at one point in their career. Even if obviously no one thinks it will.
I’m confortable with the state of the boat for the start. We had very good boat builders who did a good job. We’ll be fine for the race, back at top speed.
I prefer being out at sea a bit more, so I think this third leg is a bit more my kind of thing. It’ll be interesting as people get more tired and we’ll see who copes the better with the race. It’s been a pretty tiring race so far, and we the Brits have had a very tough time. It shows with the results that are no way near where they were last year. There are massive gaps in the fleet but I think that if you work hard you can start crawling your way back up.
Sleep depravation put aside, it’s the knockbacks that are the toughest to cope with in this race. It’s a lot of ups and downs, especially this year. Last year was a nice up the whole time for me whereas this year feels like a down so far.”
“Looking back at them, we did manage to get some sleep in the second leg compared to the first because there were a few gaps where we had no wind. I hardly had any sleep at all in the second leg. And I really felt it when I came in I was an absolute mess. I was unable to do anything. This leg has been focusing on recovering by trying to get as much sleep as possible. I certainly feel tired and going in it tomorrow feels to early but I have to give it a go.
I learnt a lot in the last leg about myself, about fatigue and it affects me. I’m keen to get back out there and do better. I lost a lot in the last little part of the leg by just being knackered. I want to repair that. I want to get a good position and hold it until the finish rather than lose it in the last bit which has been the case in the first two legs.
It’s a rather simple course, going straight to La Rochelle. It’s going to be tricky leaving tomorrow evening because we’ll be going against the tide. The first night will be tired, against the tide and sailing between rocks. Then with the tide as we swish around the south of Brittany. We should hit a wind hole when we go past Lorient with a big ridge. Then after that we’ll have to play the last little bit up to La Rochelle in a potential sea breeze situation.
For me this Solitaire has been a massive learning experience. I have NEVER pushed myself like that before, in my life. Ever. You can’t fake it. The other races we’ve done so far are so short compared to this. And it was only one leg versus 4 here. This is just amazing, you push yourself out there, and you get so exhausted. You’re just forcing yourself to push yourself on. I've never done that to that extent before. It's interesting to have done it and I hope to improve on the next leg."
"I really feel a lot happier than when I started. I'm more into it now, I have a good rhythm and I think I paced myself fairly well. I'm fully up for it.
Each time I made a mistake in the other legs I made notes so I'll be looking not to repeat them. I'd like to find myself really amongst the fleet and being able to race a lot more. In the last leg I spent a lot of time at the back and tried to find my way forward. I want to fight for my position rather than fighting to climb.
The first 12 hours will be very tricky in the rocks. It'll be followed by bits I haven’t been trough before. The complete offshore sailing is what I'm less used to. The most interesting part of this leg will be the long offshore section.
I think boredom can be an issue. The ridge will be a break that will split the leg in two. It'll give lots of time to think about tactical things. It'll be quite challenging to keep the speed up the whole way. Trying to keep your focus and your speed rather than sleeping too much and letting yourself go is what you want to do.
I've learned a lot about where to be in a fleet and where to make your differences. You always have to try and find gains here and there. I've also learned about the points that you push at and really focus on in the race.
I'm actually feeling really good! I'm feeling really rested. We've had a really nice stopover here in Paimpol. I quite like La Rochelle so I'm quite happy to be sailing there. We're coming to the close of this race and I feel saddened by that. I'm really enjoying it.
I've already sailed in La Rochelle before but in a smaller boat and in a smaller area. But the mental image of La Rochelle I have is still really good.
“Physically I’d say I’m at 80% at the moment. I’m feeling pretty good and I’ve slept as much as I possibly can. I think that after my mid afternoon nap today I’ll be good to go. My mental state has gone stronger and stronger. I’ve found more and more motivation throughout the races. When I get ashore I just can’t wait to get back out there and try new things. When we’re out there I learn so much with each decision and tactical manoeuvre. I’d say I’m getting better and better at making these choices. There are so many features along the French and English coasts that anyone can play with.
For Leg 3, we will be heading out of Paimpol in a coastal course to play with which should be a nice spectacle for the spectators out on the water. It should take about an hour before we head around the corner and head out west towards the very rocky and dangerous Northern Brittany coastline. We are not expecting any sleep in the first 18h of the race. We’ll be heading in that first night pretty tired and coming out of it exhausted. We are looking at 15-20 knots upwind with tacking between rocks in a place notorious for boats smashing one another. We then go around l’Île de Ouessant/Ushant and past the Raz de Seine, which is a very tidal area. We then head across the Bay of Biscay and that will be as offshore as we will get in this Solitaire. We’ll be on one jibe so we’ll be able to get some sleep back before we hit a ridge with no wind right in the middle of the Bay. That ridge will be perpendicular to the ideal run line. The race there becomes “who can cut across the fastest”. The fleet will compact on this ridge then split up as the first boats get the new breeze. It’ll be a big decision deciding where to head to get that new breeze. It could render the first part of the race almost irrelevant and make that one moment the one that could decide the race. After that we head down to a mark called BXA that is a south of La Rochelle so to add a bit of distance to the race. Then up around l’Île d’Oléron and into La Rochelle which should be quite straightforward with the new breeze from after the ridge will have filled in.
The rocks will be the big challenge of this leg but it should be good after that. It doesn’t help that there is a night start so we’ll be in between rock during the night. You could physically destroy yourself in that part with no sleep. You need strong mental abilities to be able to make the good decisions.
I’ll probably have Pierre in the back of my mind the whole time, and I’ll probably have an eye for his name on the AIS. But at the same time I’m trying to get experience out of sailing whole fleet not just against one boat. That’s how it is with offshore sailing, you have to race the whole fleet. You can’t really cover one guy for 400 miles. It’s not the way to sail in a race like this.”
“I’m feeling pretty good some 9 hours from the start. I slept for 17 straight hour on my first night in Paimpol… I’ve slept very well since we’ve been here. I’m sure that there’s some built up tiredness but I’m feeling ready.
Physically and mentaly I’m good even if the last leg was frustrating. It felt like a rookie leg starting at the front and then drifting back. I think I got more tired than I ever got before and went to a place I’d never been in – especially for that long – which was extreme exhaustion. I look back at decision I made when I was sailing and it was rubbish. That level of tiredness was one I had never pushed myself in before and made me sail like a moron.
I can’t really say it’s been a cracker so far. We’ve had two very interesting leg and the first one really split the times. The positions in the last legs didn’t affect the overall rankings so much. It’s a very interesting fight at the front. It’s a shame that all the Brits went the wrong side on that shift on the first leg but it’s good to see Will in the lead for the rookies. I’m looking at the next two legs just leg by leg now. A couple of good results on their own would be nice. Overall classification is sort of done for me.
The ridge we will hit in the Bay of Biscay will be the decisive moment of the leg. It appears that we will be drifting around almost all of Monday.
This Solitaire has been relentless. The wind has been tricky. The south coast of England has been really difficult to deal with. We haven’t just been reaching past it we’ve been beating around the headlands. It’s been light and funky. Both legs have been pretty relentless. Good solid Figaro legs to be honest.”
“I feel a lot better now than I did for the start of the last leg. I’ve had a lot of rest here. I’ve worked hard to get a lot of rest. I’ve been using the kinés to get massages, which has given me some time to relax and repair my body. I’ve done some running to keep the blood pumping. I’ve eaten well and I managed to get rehydrated.
I’m ultimately disappointed in my place, having it governed by the first leg. It’s not just positions but times between the boats with the race being done on cumulative time. But on the other hand I’m quite happy because I have the speed. I definitely feel like I’m a better sailor than I’ve been before. I found speed in areas I didn’t have any before, predominately downwind and reaching. I’ve also found it easier later on in the legs which means I’m managing myself on the water well in terms of sleep. It has given me the ability to come through the fleet in the second half of the legs when everyone else is tired. As opposed to last year when I was having good starts and dropping off places, this year I’ve been having bad starts but I’ve always been picking up places.
I was absolutely knackered at the start of Leg 2 in Cowes. I blew the start and I couldn’t get any right decisions along the south coast. I kept searching for the right but couldn’t get it going. After Wolf Rock I had a decent amount of sleep and that reset me and gave me the ability to focus and to have my mind in the right place.
I’m just here to learn. It would be nice to get a good result for sure. But ultimately I just want to keep progressing as a solo sailor and I’ve definitely been doing that in the first two legs. Managing and tackling these two weather systems that are going to come through in Leg 3 will be pretty interesting thing to do. The warm front followed by the ridge. The ridge could define the fleet and we could see a split.