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La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Stage 3 - Convergence and catch up, Chabagny clings to small lead

by La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro 11 Sep 06:45 BST 11 September 2018

After just over two and a half days of racing on Stage 3 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, the 'Don' of the fleet Thierry Chabagny (Gedmat), the 46-year-old solo skipper from Concarneau who is on his 17th La Solitaire, is clinging on to a lead but it has been cut from over ten to to just three nautical miles.

But as the two leading groups have converged, since midnight Chabagny's margin over key title contenders such as overall leader Sébastien Simon (Bretagne CMB Performance) has more than halved, and the 28-year-old winner of Stage 2 into Galicia was just over three and a half nautical miles behind Chabagny and still sailing a fraction of a knot faster.

When yesterday Chabagny's lead on the water might have given him hope of his first ever overall La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro win, this morning Simon is back in contention given his lead on aggregate time was 26 minutes at the start of this 415 nautical miles stage from Galicia to Saint-Gilles-Croie-de-Vie.

The conditions on the Bay of Biscay remain light and hard to read, especially during the long dark nights, eight knots of unsettled, fickle breeze with holes and calms, big shifts in direction and wind pressure. The big problem is that the high pressure ridge, extending off the Azores anticyclone which is giving the Vendée coast finish town beautiful late summer sunshine, is now sitting right over Saint-Gilles-Croie-de-Vie and so blocking the route with very sticky, light winds.

Overall La Solitaire leader Simon, who was born and lives in Les Sables d'Olonne just east along coast from Saint Gilles, is hunting with a tightly compacted pack including Charlie Dalin (Skipper MACIF 2015), Anthony Marchand (Groupe Royer-Secours Populaire) and Frédéric Duthil (Technique Voile).

Ireland's rookie Thomas Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) has not quite been able to keep pace with this group but remains in 11th place this morning, some three nautical miles behind the fast advancing Simon, and Dolan is still topping the rookie division on the water but he has 1.9 nautical miles in hand over Sébastien Petithuguenin (Le Defi contre le Cancer). And Britain's NIck Cherry (Redshift) continues to hold on to 15th place, excellent considering his limited training and racing time this season.

Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) and Hugh Brayshaw (KAMAT) have made 15 nautical miles back on the leaders since yesterday, at a more tenable 17 nautical miles behind the leaders this morning but still need a shutdown in the breeze for the leaders to have any hope of catching up.

See the up to date standings at www.lasolitaire-urgo.com/cartographie

Quotes:

Gildas Mahé (Breizh Cola): "The North option, I thought about it but it was hard at first, the angle was bad at first. But Thierry did well! Now I do not know how it will go as he has lost a lot of miles since the last sked. I can's say how it will work out. There will be plenty more options to play. Given the instability of the wind and there are still 120/130 nautical miles to go there is still plenty of work."

Sébastien Simon (Bretagne CMB Performance): "It has been hard this third night at sea, the wind never stops shifting, to go up and down and so it is ballast in ballast out, stack, unstack. I spend all my time trimming the sails, it is a bit painful, but then the morning is here and I look in a good place and so it is all okay. I feel it's a good comeback. We are righ back at the leading groupe, that of Thierry. That's quite reassuring finally. We are down to five miles and if it stays like this it will reduce further. That is what keeps me motivated. We will have a fourth night at sea. JUst now it is hard to rest, but I got some before. But when it is really daylight i hope the wind will settle and I'll be able to get some more naps. I think Thierry is still a little to our west. Maybe he will hang on, he made a good choice. Me, I could not gamble like that. I stayed with the leaders and I am generally happy. All those around me on the overall standings should hopefully be well aligned around me here."

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