Please select your home edition
Grapefruit Graphics 2019 - Leaderboard

50th La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Leg 4 - Day 3

by La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro 24 Jun 2019 17:41 BST 24 June 2019
The Figaros in the fog during the 4th stage of the Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro between Roscoff and Dieppe © Alexis Courcoux

With 40 nautical miles still to sail to the Owers turning mark off Portsmouth at 1500hrs BST this afternoon, racing within a gradually fading southwesterly breeze, it has been a long, laborious day fighting in the main pack on Stage 4 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro.

Fog accompanied by constant drizzle has added to the generally unpleasant English summer conditions as the 500-mile Grand Final showdown from Roscoff to Dieppe passed its theoretical midpoint this morning.

On familiar waters, Britain's Will Harris (Hive Energy) has proven well capable of staying with the most accomplished sailors in this highly competitive fleet. Since breaking into the leading trio after a move south early this morning - during which the 26-year-old English solo racer from Surrey self-effacingly admitted he mostly caught up on some sleep, Harris has been trading the lead with the leg 3 winner and last years' runner up Anthony Marchand (Groupe Royer-Secours Populaire), and Corentin Douguet (NF Habitat). But it is incredibly tight after 48 hours of racing and the top five are within half a mile of the lead with the top ten within a mile.

There is still over 200 miles to race to the finish line in Dieppe where the 46 boat fleet are expected to arrive Wednesday. Harris, along with all of the top sailors, including General Classification leader Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Groupe Telegramme), have been trying to maximise sleep and rest as they prepared for the coming hours when the wind is set to go very light and thunderstorms are predicted.

Almost amongst those top sailors is Ireland's Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa), who has been in the top 10 all day after profiting from a bold move, staying inshore on the Devon coast last night as he and three rivals profited to pass Start Point on a route close to the shore.

Harris, who finished top rookie in 2016 on his one and only previous La Solitaire, sounded relaxed but quietly focused on the goal of delivering a second top-ten stage finish after his seventh place on Stage 3, reported: "As soon as we arrived in England we could tell we were here because it started raining. It's not too normal to have this much fog but it is pretty dodgy, and a bit scary at times sailing in it with so many boats in the fleet, we only have about ten metres of visibility and we are going quite fast and so you always have to keep your eyes open and ahead. I have had a few near misses with other boats which I haven't seen, we are gybing up and down going along, changing direction all the time. So it is very interesting weather."

Not fully realising he was doing so well, Harris took his placing in his stride when told by the on-water reporter over the radio: "It is still so open. We are just at Weymouth so there is a long way to go and the forecast just gets crazier and crazier. We are hearing of lightning and very little wind up ahead. It is going to be a real challenge working out the best way to go. For now I am going to stay relaxed, think ahead and know there are still a lot of miles to go. It could get quite intense so I am going to relax and then hopefully when it gets intense I will have a bit more energy than the rest.

"I went down to the south a bit last night, away from the fleet. In fact I spent a long time sleeping, and when I came back in I was ahead of the group I was chasing. So I am pretty happy about that. I am well rested and well fed and I managed to gain some places."

Richomme is 15th at 1.6 miles behind the leading trio this afternoon, saving his energy for the final push in what are expected to be light and random conditions. He said: "It's quite foggy out here. There are a lot of us grouped together at the front of the fleet. As forecast, there was a front during the night. I'm sailing calmly. There are no real options. It's going to be complicated with the area of high pressure and thunderstorms moving in. I managed to get a lot of rest, so I am ready to go on the attack later, as it's going to be long and looks complicated. On board the boats, a lot of us are sleeping, as energy levels are low. I'm just trying to keep up with the frontrunners without necessarily leading the race."

The fleet are expected to arrive at Owers at around 2am tomorrow morning, before heading back across the Channel to Ouest Saint-Marcouf in Normandy in north-western France, and onto the finish in Dieppe.

Follow the fleet on the tracking here.

Related Articles

Bay of Saint-Brieuc to host Solitaire du Figaro
Saint-Brieuc Armor Agglomération and its partners decided to pass an important milestone in 2020 The race will set sail from the Côtes d'Armor department of northern Brittany next year. This decision has been made within the context of Ambition Nautique, a programme promoting sailing in the region. Posted on 14 Nov 2019
Tom Dolan finishes 2019 Figaro season on a high
Irishman finishes his first season on a high note Tom Dolan, the Irish skipper of Smurfit Kappa, finished his first season in the Beneteau Figaro 3 on something of a high note when he took fourth place on the last stage of the 12th Tour de Bretagne à la Voile. Posted on 16 Sep 2019
2019 Tour de Bretagne à la Voile starts today
Tom Dolan and Smurfit Kappa ready Recognising a need to help aspiring young sailors get a toehold on the solo racing ladder, Ireland's Tom Dolan will be partnered aboard Smurfit Kappa on the imminent 2019 multi stage Tour de Bretagne à la Voile race Posted on 7 Sep 2019
All aboard the bandwagon!
If I had a mini maxi, I reckon that is exactly what I would have to call it If I had a mini maxi, I reckon that is exactly what I would have to call it. Just because you'd get a cast of thousands on board, and subsequently have a grand old time. Now if I had a supermaxi, I think its name would have to be Gravy Train... Posted on 1 Sep 2019
The Figaro circuit: The final necessary step?
Do you really have to be an Figaro expert before IMOCA? The 50th Solitaire Urgo-Le Figaro finished last Wednesday after a fourth and final leg won by Eric Péron, which confirmed Yoann Richomme's overall first place. Posted on 2 Jul 2019
Number Crunching
A look at the 50th anniversary of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro The landmark edition of the 50th La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, which finished on Wednesday 27 June in Dieppe, covered more than 2000 miles over the four stages. Even more than usual it was a war of attrition. Posted on 28 Jun 2019
Richomme wins La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro
Fourth place in final stage is enough to win overall by 1 hour Crossing the finish line of the final Stage of the 50th anniversary La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro this afternoon in fourth place, after 500 miles from Roscoff to Dieppe via Wolf Rock and Owers, Yoann Richomme completed an impressive overall victory. Posted on 26 Jun 2019
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Leg 4 day 5 update
Sprint to the Grand Final finish line The final hours of Stage 4, the Grand Final, are delivering a sprint finish worthy of the first La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro to be sailed in the new Beneteau Figaro 3. Posted on 26 Jun 2019
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Leg 4 day 4
Last night nerves for the fleet? With an accumulated overall lead time of one hour and 11 minutes, and just 85 miles left to sail to the finish of the final leg on Stage 4 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, overall leader Yoann Richomme might reflect on the warnings of 'The Godfather'. Posted on 25 Jun 2019
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Leg 4 day 4 update
Overhauled at Owers: Isle of Wight option pays for Peron and Richomme The passage of the Owers buoy in the middle of last night delivered yet another upset on the 50th La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro as hard won leads were washed away under a massive dark cloud and heavy rain. Posted on 25 Jun 2019