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Hugo Dhallenne leads the flock to Chicken Rock lighthouse

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

The climb to Chicken Rock lighthouse, south of the Isle of Man is proving to be not for the faint hearted among the 32 ssolo skippers racing on the second stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro. The combination of strong tides, periods of light winds and different strategic options is creating some big gaps in the fleet.

French rookie Hugo Dhallene (YC St Lunaire), 33, leads the fleet as they beat north to the most northerly turn of a 570 miles course to the Bay of Morlaix which started from Kinsale on Sunday lunchtime. Winner of the series fleet in the 2021 MiniTransat, Dhallene is an experienced offshore racer from Saint Malo whose father was on Eric Tabarly’s technical crew.

With some 55 miles to climb out of the Saint George’s Channel, racing still in a NE’ly wind, Dahllene now has the majority of the fleet more lined up behind him, including Ireland’s Stage 1 winner Tom Dolan in tenth at six miles off the lead. But around 1700hrs UK time this afternoon they were still making between two and four knots of boat speed.

Dhallene led through the Intermediate Sprint at South Arklow this afternoon, gaining himself a 5 minutes time bonus at around 1220hrs local time, Dolan was around 40 minutes behind but key for him is having some pre-race favourites like Gaston Morvan (Région Bretagne-CMB Performance), Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire), and Basile Bourgnon (EDENRED) even further behind. Bourgnon – fifth into Kinsale – was two hours behind the leader at the so called ‘sprint’ mark.

Race Director Yann Chateau announced earlier in the day that the flee will sail the long course, round the rock south of the Isle of Man rather than a possible shorter course which would have turned south offshore of Dublin Bay

“The most optimistic models see an ETA of the first finisher in the Bay of Morlaix on Thursday during the day, the most pessimistic in the evening. The idea is to keep true to this stage as much as it is a test in the Irish Sea but still making sure there is enough rest time at the next stopover,"

They said on the VHFHugo Dhallenne (YC de Saint-Lunaire), after passing the mark of South Arklow

“That's it, the intermediate sprint is over. Now to head due north to find Chicken Rock, near the Isle of Man. It is always upwind The current is quite strong here. For the moment, we have it with us, but it will soon be reversed. We take every little thing we can take; and then you have to deal with it. It's very nice to pass a mark in the lead on the Solitaire, especially 24 hours after the start. But the stage is far from over. There is still work to do, I want to stay at the front.”