The multi-stage Generali Solo Mediterranée got off to an eventful start in Sete, France. Twenty-two skippers took to the water for their first inshore race at 0900 BST, including Artemis Offshore Academy Alumni Nick Cherry, Sam Matson and Alan Roberts.
A fresh 22 knots made for an exciting start to the inshore series, with 2015 Rookie Nicolas Thomas (Guadeloupe Grand Large one) colliding with Gwenolé Gahinet and causing damage to the rear of Gahinet’s Figaro, ‘Safran Guy Cotten’. Thomas retired from the first race and returned to port.
Macif Skipper Yoanne Richomme made the most of the breeze, getting the best start and taking an early lead on the fleet. Gwen Gbick (Made in Midi) and Vincent Biarnes (Guyot Environment) were chasing hard, with Redshift skipper Nick Cherry coming through the ranks to round the second mark in third. Richomme won the first of four inshore races taking place in Sete, while Cherry finished fifth – a confident top 10 start to his race.
Having trained in La Grande Motte in the South of France for two years with the Academy, Cherry is pleased to be back sailing in the Med.: “Having trained in the south for two winters, I’m quite familiar with the area. Inshore, I am just going to try and make as few mistakes as possible, get good starts and sail fast. That should hopefully get me through these short courses that account for roughly half the points.
There are no discards in this series so it’s all about consistency. Every place on every course is important, so fighting for first and second is as important as fighting for 17th and 18th. It’s about making the most of every opportunity and keeping pushing the whole time.”
The three-week solo marathon starts with two coastal races on Friday 18th September; with a further two races on Saturday 19th September. The skippers leave on the first offshore leg of the Generali Solo Meditereanée on Sunday at 1400 BST. Leg one takes competitors 354nm from Sete to Nice via Corsica.
“It’s going to be hard to not completely burn yourself out on the inshore days before each offshore race,” Roberts explained. “Each leg of the short course measures a mile and a half, that is quite intense when racing hard against 20 odd other Figaros. The inshore races will have a big impact on our overall results, but not burning yourself out before the offshore legs will be key.”
The Generali Solo is the final race in the ‘Championnat Elite de course au Large en solitaire’, following the Solo Maître Coq and the Solitaire du Figaro. As well as battling it out for the top spot in the race, the skippers will be looking to up their position the championship ranks as Matson revealed: “I am 14th in the overall championship (of France) and I hope I can get to a top-10 overall finish. That’s what I’m aiming for. It’s not going to be easy because of the level of competition. All I can do is get out there, race as hard as I can and hopefully come good at the end.”
Generali Solo Mediterranée racing dates:
Leg one – Sete to Nice:
Day one of inshore racing, Friday 18th September (Sete)
Day two of inshore racing, Saturday 19th September (Sete)
Start of Offshore Leg one – Sunday 20th September (1400 BST)
ETA – Wednesday 23rd September (Nice)
Leg two – Nice to Barcelona:
Day three of inshore racing, Friday 25th September
Day four of inshore racing, Saturday 26th September
Start of Offshore Leg two – Sunday 27th September (1430 BST)
ETA – Wednesday 30th September (Barcelona)
Finish in Barcelona:
Day five of inshore racing, Friday October 2nd
Day six of inshore racing, Saturday October 3rd
Prize giving – Saturday October 3rd
Closing parade – Sunday October 4th