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Corentin Horeau takes lead before Land’s End as key tactical choices are made


Land’s End, which the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec leaders were due to pass around 2000hrs this evening, may yet prove to be a decisive section of the 610 nautical miles first stage from Caen to Kinsale.

As they climbed NW across The Channel this afternoon – their third transit since Sunday lunchtime’s start – there was still only one third of a mile between the top four solo skippers. Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire) had benefited from being first to tack west late this afternoon and took the lead from Guillaume Pirouelle (Région Normandie) by a matter of 400 metres or so. But Land’s End and the Traffic Separation lanes at the Scillies may shake up the leading peloton.


The first hurdle around 1700hrs this afternoon was a high pressure ridge of lighter winds that the fleet tacked through when the wind headed to the WNW ahead of them. Being closer to the English coast should allow a quicker passage through the light winds zone but encountering more adverse tidal flow at Land’s End. Then, tomorrow, the medium term aim is positioning to get through a front and into the wind direction shift to the SW in the Celtic Sea for more favourable, fast spinnaker- reaching approach to the Fastnet which is still over 180 nautical miles away this afternoon.


Basil Bourgnon (Edenred) has given up distance to the leaders to stay west. From a close second to Pirouelle, he was fourth this afternoon and spoke of his investment, “The options have been taken and are playing out with some gaps opening. I’m on a position which should pay off in about 30 to 40 miles. It is cool to monitor the others, to understand also what they are doing. I am trying to keep pace with them and benchmark myself against them. I am on a fast course which should allow me o sail a little less distance than them.”


Heading due north some ten miles directly south of Lizard Point late this afternoon, the 21 year old continued, “My positioning is about using the current rather than the wind. The tacks are quite straight, so we will see.”


As the 32 solo skippers head into their third night at sea, tiredness is really starting to be felt, albeit the conditions have been benign since the start with no big breeze and no prolonged calms.


In 20th position, just four miles behind leader Pirouelle, Charlotte Yven (Skipper MACIF) – who won the Transat Paprec in May with Lois Berrehar, reported, “The fatigue is slowly starting to kick in. There is so much to do that you don’t tend to notice it too much. I did not start that well but am in the pack now and there is plenty of racing still to go. We’ve had 12-14kts, reaching on port gybe under gennaker but will get to this header when we will feel more like we are heading for Ireland. I’m in good shape.”


Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) a self confessed meteo geek, has positioned himself more to the west also, just beside Bourgnon. He has been going well in sixth place, well set for the climb across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet which he sailed to many times as a sailing instructor in Baltimore with the Glénans school.

Briton David Paul (sailingpoint.co/Just A Drop) has broken well to the east of the main group looking to make a gain in 27th place, 14 miles behind the leader Pirouelle.



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