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A Tour of the Bay Then Off

Published on 12/09/2021

It is a close, slightly humid morning with very little breeze around the Port de Bloscon with scarcely a ripple on the water and the flags hanging limply. For sure the current scene out to sea endorses the decision to delay the start from the planned 1100hrs this morning until this afternoon.

And so the skippers are having a maxi long lie this Sunday morning, doing their best to decipher the complex weather pattern while the preparateurs are putting the final touches to their skippers’ boats, diving to make sure the hull is smooth and clean and making sure the big sails are the most accessible.

The skippers presentation starts at 1300hrs and the dock out at 1315hrs. It will be in French on the website. Jesse Fielding (Opportunity - State Street Marathon Sailing) is first off the dock and race leader Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019) will be last out at 1348hrs.

The start gun will go at 1600hrs CET, the forecast is for NE’ly winds of 8kts and then the 34 competitors will set off on an 8-mile coastal course in the bay of Morlaix. First mark to be passed is a clearing mark at 2-miles upwind from the start upwind by tacking. They will then have to come back downwind to pass the Baie de Morlaix buoy set in from of the Saint-Barbe chapel before setting out northwards to pass the East Astan cardinal to port. Then the Fastnet lighthouse awaits them 270 miles away, probably on Tuesday daytime.

They said on the pontoon :

Francesca Clapcich (USA/ITA Fearless-State Street Marathon Sailing): “I feel good. I think this will be a very long leg maybe five days and so it will be important to keep up the pace and make a lot of gybes and a lot of decisions in light winds. I have got a lot of rest here, a lot of good food, I am ready to go. It will be important to take it a little bit easy at the beginning and not make mistakes on the coastal course. It will be the big kite for five days and so we need to keep it good. I think I want to enjoy this at 100% as this is the last leg. It is super special for me. Every time something goes wrong out there I get a bit mad but as soon as I am back and rested I want to go again. I hope that I am able to find some funding to be back again next time with some more experience. I am happy to be here and race at this high level. I went to the Fastnet a few times but always with a team of ten or 12 people on board. So this time is the first time there solo, so it will be so different. We are sailing alone on the boat, yes, but we have a great team behind us.”

Jesse Fielding (USA, Opportunity- State Street Marathon Sailing): “This is the most incredible thing I have done in sailing and this week is going to be long. This for us has been a vertical learning curve for the season. It feels good now, much more comfortable and though we were never going to win I came here to learn and achieve my own goals. The last leg was challenging and we met them and now I am ready for the next leg and plenty more challenges. It is going to be very complicated but our weather guru Christian Dumard says as much as it sounds contradictory ‘keep it simple’ in this case sailing the boat fast in the most direct, shortest distance to the mark is the most simple that is usually a good strategy. But the choices are a bit wild, in the next 24 hours we will have a big choice to go east or west and then at Fastnet Rock it will all invert as we try to get across a ridge and back to France, but these boats, these sailors, I have never been more impressed by a group of sailors than these guys.”

Tom Dolan (IRL, Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan): “I feel a lot better than when I came in here a few days ago. I have had some good rest and am ready for this. I often do quite well going out to the Fastnet, certainly it feels like going home even if it is only hearing the weather forecasts in a nice Irish accent and knowing the French guys won’t be understanding it! But I spent a number of happy years teaching at Glenans in Baltimore near the light. I don’t think there is any extra local knowledge I might have, it will be so light, and most of these guys have been out there a few times. But I feel good, light downwind I don’t seem to be too bad at. But I want to just stay with my ‘petits copains’ as much as I can and then see on the way back.”

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