Published on 18/06/2019
Alexis Loison, (Region Normandie), led around Hand Deeps by Eddystone light this morning at 0416hrs local time (0316hrs UTC), just has he did 24 hours earlier at Granville on the Bay of Saint Malo. The Norman skipper, along with Gildas Mahé, (Breizh Cola-EquiThé,) and Anthony Marchand, (Groupe Royer-Populaire Secours), now enjoys the biggest breakaway from the fleet in La Solitaire history.
With the course shortened by race direction, Loison still has 150 nautical miles to sail to the new finish line at Nividic lighthouse. Due to the high pressure ridge which has its axis all the way alongthe channel, winds remain frustratingly light and the three musketeers spent the second night at sea since leaving Roscoff on Sunday afternoon making painfully slow progress as they tried to reach the turning mark just south of Plymouth.
Behind them the fleet is split north and south of the TSS exclusion zone at Casquets, where they are still only just to the north of the Cherbourg peninsula. Fourth placed Martin Le Pape, (Skipper Macif 2017), is 55 miles behind Loison and two miles ahead of fifth placed Michel Desjoyeaux (Lumibird), making between 5.7 and 6.2 knots. Between 2200hrs last night and this morning, the leaders made another 13 miles on the unlucky pursuers who had the tidal gate at Alderney slammed in their face early yesterday afternoon.
Race leader overall Yoann Richomme, (HelloWork-Groupe Telegramme), is now relegated to 15th place at 69 miles behind the leader. His overall lead looks increasingly in jeopardy, even considering the breakaway trio are between ten and eleven hours behind him on the race leaderboard.
Briton Will Harris, (Hive Energy), is fighting valiantly in 11th place this morning, positioned with the southerly group which appeared to be gaining ground against their northerly rivals.
Loison has his bow pointing at Brittany and is racing under gennaker in a light easterly. The high pressure ridge should move north and leave a northerly becoming northeasterly breeze strengthening to 20knots. And the finish line when it comes will determine just how much this breakaway shapes the final outcome of this 50th edition of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro.
Leader Loison warned this morning: “We are heading for places where there are transition zones and tidal currents and weak winds, and anything can happen. Nothing is for certain, and it will remain uncertain until the finish because we will be pushing the tide there too. I know we will have no time to stop.”
Track the fleet here here.
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