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Into the sunshine and light winds of Stage 2

© Alexis Courcoux

The 32 La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec skippers left the dock in Kinsale in a lifting mist and beautiful sunshine….but a near absence of wind. The flags hung limp but the smiles were broad and the atmosphere chilled as they contemplate a light winds, complex leg of over 500 miles to Roscoff where they should finish Thursday. The actual turning mark will be announced before Tuskar rock but is likely to be the short course. Race leader Tom Dolan of Ireland was relaxed and already in ‘the zone’. He said “The leg looks tricky. I feel good now. I was quite stressed earlier but I will be fine once we get out the port now. The start looks quite clear we will be sailing downwind along the coast in the sea-breeze. Tonight there could be a big split. Some of the weather models are sending us offshore others are telling us to hug the coast, there are two extremes. It is a play the fleet kind of leg, don’t make any breaks. It feels no different going afloat leading the race, I need to concentrate on what I can control.”

Others said:

Ben Beasley NZL (Ocean Attitude): “I feel pretty good. The forecast is that it will be very light for the first part of the course and then towards the end it will get a bit breezier. The nerves are less here than in Caen. I want to just keep it simple. I have really not done so much in light winds, mostly it has been in 15-20kts but that doesn’t worry me I’ll just go as fast as I can. The first night will be light with some rain and the tide will play a big part of it. Initially the first 20 miles it will be about staying close to the coast out of the current and with some land breeze hopefully. And then head offshore where there should be some wind.

Susann ‘Sanni’ Beucke GER (This Race is Female): “It will be light and very, very tricky. But I am really looking forwards to it. I am so new to this and so often I am going out worried because we are going to have 25 knots and have to respect the challenge because of the conditions, but this time it is will be light and tricky. I have a different feeling. My key strategy is to be aware that we don’t know that much. Hopefully the first part will be coastal racing which I am more used to.”

David Paul GBR ( a Drop): “It should be a race of marginal gains for me. But when there are light winds it can be all about the difference between being able to go at 3.2kts as opposed to 3kts and sustaining that. You can watch someone just creep away from you. And when someone gets two or three miles in front that feels enormous. I feel good, I feel I am slowly but surely making little baby steps forwards. For me it is similar to Leg 4 in 2021 which was really long, slow leg with lots of transitions. So at least I know what to expect and how to set myself up for it. "

Elodie Bonafous (Queguiner - La Vie en Rose) : "It’s okay, I’m well rested and I took advantage of this Irish stopover as much as I could, it was very nice actually. We will have very light weather conditions throughout the stage, it is quite rare for it to be this weak. It's going to be pretty cool, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be easier to

sleep and rest because strategically, there are a lot of games and traps, you'll have to be good at it! I'm happy, we're going into lands unknown to me and we're arriving in a land that I know well, Roscoff! In any case, I'm in good shape, I'm at full strength, and I'm going to give it my all throughout and try to concentrate on my weather and my speed to play optimally!”

Basile Bourgnon (EDENRED): “This is the “second first leg”, since the counters are set almost to zero for a lot of people. We will have to be very, very, very, very patient because we will be biting our nails through this first night. In particular this first passage of very light wind which will last a few hours, five, six hours perhaps. And also tonight so we won't sleep much. Then, we hope that the wind will be able to come in so we can do a little driving under pilot and be able to sleep a little bit. This fairly weak wind will force us to concentrate on our course, on our weather, to eat well and manage our sleep... “

Guillaume Pirouelle (Région Normandie) 2nd last year: “This is perhaps going to be the most complicated stage, we don’t really know what will happen. The wind will be very light, and we will have to make do with what we have. This is the stage where there are a few dangers, so I hope to be on the right track from the start to perhaps even a little ahead. There aren't really any conditions in which I'm more comfortable than others, but these are not the easiest. It's a little more random when it's below 6 knots. There are puffs that come in randomly so it's more complicated because we can’t control everything. We'll have to keep calm as there will be surprises! But otherwise, I feel ready, I have every chance, and we’ll see how we are when we arrive in Roscoff!”

Pep Costa, ESP, meteo for internationals…. "I think it looks like a very tricky leg. The guys are really stuck inside of a high pressure system. It is slowly moving east towards eastern Europe. And then this will allow the wind to fill in in the following hours. But it is going to be mostly a light winds leg with thermal winds today transitioning into a very very light winds zone before coming into a light north to north east wind for later tonight. So they will be very close to the coast under spinnakers. Downwind very close to VMG and then tonight into NE to E wind, they will go offshore and tack in the NE’ly maybe a few tacks to Tuskar rock. The breeze will fill in around 10-15 knots but the current is quite strong so they need to be close to the shore when the current is against them. "