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Breeze shut down means slow, slow finish into Roscoff. Many hopes of overall victory seem dashed.


Painful finish, disappointed Tom Dolan



A brutal shut down in the already light breeze off Roscoff last night proved extremely painful for 29 of the 32 solo skippers at the conclusion of the 570 miles Stage 2 of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, creating huge gaps in the General Classification. The top three finishers, led by the stage victor, the youngest skipper in the race, Basile Bourgonon (EDENRED), slid across the line from 1700hrs local time on Thursday night. Then, through a long, frustrating night with next-to-no wind, some of the chasing pack took 16 to 18 hours to make the final six to ten miles into Roscoff.

The top three finishers last night now hold the top three spots on the General Classification. Bourgnon, 21, whose father Laurent won as a rookie in 1988, holds a lead of 8 minutes and 55 seconds going into Sunday’s final stage across the Bay of Biscay and back. Second is Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire) and third Lois Berrehar (Skipper MACIF 2022). Winner of the Transat Paprec mixed doubles race across the Atlantic with Charlotte Yven, Berrehar now has 2 hours and 20 minutes in hand over the fourth placed skipper Alexis Thomas (La Charente Maritime).

Timings and positioning at the key stop-starts played against Tom Dolan, the Irish skipper who won Stage 1 into Kinsale. He was one of the many who took more than 12 hours to make the final four miles to the finish. After starting the leg with a lead of six minutes, Dolan crossed in 20th at 09:27hrs this morning and drops to 19th 15 hours and 13 mins behind Bourgnon.


Tom Dolan, IRL, (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) “I am hungry and tired. It is not like I sailed badly and made stupid mistakes I just got a bit screwed I'm tired. I am feeling tired, like everyone else I think. But I handle it all kind of OK. I actually sailed quite well in the end. It is different to arrive having made stupid mistakes. Something happened that I didn't understand. I imagine the others went inside the TSS. When we passed, there was five knots of current against us the way they went and no wind. It was impassable. It happens. It's just a shame that this is a double blow because we took 18 hours to get to the line when it is all but in sight Not only did we lose the lead in the race but we also lost the Solitaire by having two changes of tide at different points. Roscoff often has these dangerous finishes. It couldn't be more dangerous than this I don’t think. What annoys me is when I do stupid things and navigate poorly but I did not. We arrived at the TSS too early. We just drifted offshore and those behind went with the current. That is rare. Losing 3-4 miles is conceivable, but 16 or 18 hours is crazy! The night was long. I just wanted to arrive. I was trying to move the boat forward to cross the line. I had a little bit of a mad breakdown yesterday at the end of the day. I hit the boom, I said bad words in English and I can't repeat them. But that’s okay, I didn’t blow up too much.”


David Paul, GBR, (Sailingpoint.co/Just a Drop), 26th across the line: “It was a night I will never forget. It was as hard a leg as I’ve ever done. But I learned a lot. It was so interesting to be alongside guys like Alexis Loison and Guillaume Pirouelle and see their ability to just keep their boats going even it is just 0.3 of a knot faster. They keep going. That was interesting to see how they approach the transitions. It was super cool to be alongside people like that and learn. Until the last ten miles I was really pleased with how I had been sailing and even through the last ten miles. I think it was so hard when guys have finished and all the time you are out there knowing how much time you are losing. But I thought I sailed well. It was so, so hard to manage sleep last night. It is the first time ever I have had vivid, weird hallucinations. I was sure I was eating cheese with friends. I went a little crazy. It was weird. But that is my best race I have sailed solo. I hit a UFO on the first night and the boat stopped and I hurt my ankle, I went flying. The first 24 hours were sore but the race doctor was really good at helping me bandage my ankle up and with medicine I was good after 24 hours but I am getting it checked.”

Ben Beasley NZL (Ocean Attitude) 29th: “It was very challenging with a lot of transitions. But I am happy to finish. I am a bit disappointed because I accidentally slept through my alarm and went through into a TSS, so I got a penalty. But otherwise I am happy. It is the longest leg I have done solo. And it was very hard mentally and physically. And in the last ten hours the kite was up and down at least six times. But I am proud to finish and glad to be here.

But the most upset of the international skippers was Germany's Susann Beucke (This Race is Female) who missed the finish line closing at 1403hrs by a only a few minutes. Clearly distressed to have worked so hard and missed the finish by a tiny margin she said,

“I am devastated after this stage. It was one of the most frustrating races of my entire career. Right away, I hate sailing. We had 24 hours of fog, with no wind. I have never seen so little wind for such a long period of time. I arrived just a few minutes after the finish line closed. I thought about a lot of things out there on the water. I still had hope, I cried, I was happy and I was sad. Now I really am in tears. I didn't get much sleep last night because there were some big ships around that I had to avoid. I had to warn them that I was there on the AIS.”

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