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Two rookies’ dream debuts, an Irish homecoming and a Swiss heading for the chocolates.....

Two race rookies and the top two international solo skippers threaten to leave many of the top favourites in the shade as Stage 1 of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec comes to an exciting finish in the mist and drizzle of Kinsale early this morning.

Twenty nine year old Benoît Tuduri who originates from Montpellier on the Mediterranean who races and trains with the Vendée Formation team was hanging on to a diminishing lead around daybreak. Making more than 11 kts towards the finish line with a projected one hour to the finish line Tuduri was three miles clear of Ireland’s second placed Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) who was on track for his career best stage finish on his sixth La Solitaire du Figaro. Rookie Julie Simon (DOUZE) and Switzerland’s experienced Nils Palmieri (Teamwork) were neck and neck, tussling over third and fourth in the 15-18kts SSW’ly wind.

All four of the lead group broke to the east at the Scillies, Dolan taking the initiative whilst Palmieri – who is well known for his ability to make his own decision – did not go quite as far to the right of the section to Fastnet.