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Armel’d And Dangerous, Le Cléac’h Takes Control,

Published on 07/09/2020

Having taken the lead in the second stage of La Solitaire du Figaro at the Eddystone lighthouse on Monday around 4:45 am, Armel Le Cléac'h had managed to create a small gap of one to two miles over his immediate pursuers, Pierre Leboucher, Tom Laperche, Fabien Delahaye and Yann Eliès. This morning promises to be decisive in the light winds along the English coast.

After having recovered from a modest start to be pressing hard among the leaders of the Stage 1 and finally finishing fourth at 10 mins 20seconds behind the winner, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) has again benefited from a bold, punchy strategy which paid a dividend, leading the 35 boat La Solitaire du Figaro Stage 2 fleet around the Eddystone light mark at 0445hrs French time (0345h local, Devon).

Double winner Le Cléac’h stayed further right, to the east on the windward climb north, which allowed him more wind pressure and to get best use the sequence of windshifts to tack as per his pre-race game plan.

At Eddystone, where they turned east up the Channel, the two times winner of La Solitaire (2003 and 2010) had a small margin over Pierre Leboucher (Guyot Environnement), some 1,2 miles, third was Tom Laperche (Bretagne CMB Espoir) at 1.5, three times winner Yann Eliès (Quéguiner Matériaux-Leukémie Espoir) has recovered to fourth at 1.8 miles, Fabien Delahaye (Laboratoires Gilbert), fifth at 1.9. Sixth is Briton Sam Goodchild (Leyton) at 2.2 miles and Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) tenth at 2.7 miles.

As for the top three after Leg 1, at this early of the 404 miles stage to Dunkirk, the overall leader Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) was 3.1 miles from the Le Cléac’h, second and third placed Loïs Berrehar (Bretagne CMB Performance) and Alexis Loison (Normandy Region) were both more than 3.5 miles from Le Cléac’h who would, if deltas held, take the overall lead in Dunkirk.

As they approach Start Point at 0700hrs local time this morning they are on the last of the flooding tide – high tide is 0650hrs local time 0750hrs French and still in very light – and so will likely gybe off before choosing how they passage Lyme Bay on the ebb tide, first making sure they do not get caught in the lee of the point and then knowing there will be more wind pressure inshore. The wind should increase and back to WNW from around 1000hrs this morning the start of the faster run to Dunkirk. The key decision of the day is the layline to the A8 mark, Antifer off Le Havre. The wind should rise to 20knots for this brisk leg back across the Channel.

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