Finishing a challenging Leg 3 in Torbay on Wednesday 17th June, the eight boat British Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire competitors couldn’t wait to feel UK soil under their feet or to get up to the Royal Torbay Yacht Club for a full English breakfast!
The 400nm leg from La Cornouaille was won by Figaro rock star Yann Elies (Groupe Queguiner – Leucémie Espoir), claiming his 10th leg victory racing his 16th Solitaire. Yann maintains his lead overall by 22 minutes and 26 seconds. The talented Charlie Dalin (Skipper Macif 2015) gave Yann a good run for his money. Neck and neck, just 0.1nm apart for the final 10 miles of the race, Charlie piled on the pressure, battling Yann all the way to the finish line. In the end experience prevailed (Charlie racing in just his fourth Solitaire) and Yann clinched the victory in Torbay – just 30 seconds ahead of Charlie in second. Third was Xavier Macaire (Skipper Herault). Magma Structures skipper Alan Roberts was the first British skipper over the finish line in ninth place – a great position for Alan, racing his second Solitaire. Perhaps classed as an underdog at the start of the race in Bordeaux, over three legs Alan has continued to up his performance and by the penultimate leg to Torbay, he has proved he is a real contender. Alan now sits 13th overall.
“As I said at the beginning of the Solitaire after Leg 1, I’ve done so little of the offshore stuff that every leg I’m learning so much – so much more than in training,” Alan explained on the pontoon.“This probably is only about my ninth leg offshore I’ve ever done so I’m really happy! It’s great to be able to line up against the top guys – that’s when I’m learning the most. I’m lining up against Jérémie Beyou and Yann Elies, and either getting burnt by them or burning them sometimes! You really begin to learn what works and what doesn’t.”
Leading British skipper in the overall ranks, the ever-consistent Jack Bouttell (GAC Concise) finished the race 14th. Jack’s three solid stage finishes have seen him move up to 11th position overall, with just 30 minutes between him and 10th place Sébastien Simon (Bretagne – Crédit Mutuel Espoir). Chatham skipper Sam Matson was the next British skipper over the line in 16th – tired, exhausted, but ecstatic to be on home turf in Torbay, Devon: “Finishing in Torbay was the highlight of the leg,” Sam enthused. “It’s really exciting to have such a long time here! I’m going to get some rest for four days, and I’ve got friends and family here too. I’m looking forward to it.”
Next came Rookie Robin Elsey in 20th. Starting the race second Rookie overall, Robin’s good finish in Torbay sees him reclaim the Rookie title with just one leg to go. Robin is now just 53 seconds ahead of second Rookie overall Benoit Mariette – Benoit will be chasing him all the way to Dieppe. “I’m feeling really good about being top Rookie again! It was pretty tough out there – I got a lot less sleep in that leg than in the others because I had to trim the whole time. It was a bit stressful last night as well, when they overtook me. I really needed sleep so I just slept, they ended up passing me and I missed a shift. I managed to get it back in the end though so all is well!”
Robin’s strongest Rookie competition for the Rookie prize has so far come from Benoit and Benjamin Dutreux (Team Vendée). However, Benjamin was put out of the running for the coveted title after running aground at Ile de Batz after seven and a half hours of racing. British skipper Nick Cherry’s chances of glory in Torbay were also short lived, also running aground at Ile de Batz. Nick was devastated to be out of the race to the UK, but he will be on the Leg 4 start line come 1600 Sunday 21st June.
For Rockfish Red skipper Henry Bomby, the arrival in Torbay was like a homecoming parade. Greeted by his friends, family and sponsors on the dock, Henry’s welcome to the Bay took the sting out of his Leg 3 result – 25th is a far cry from fourth place on the previous leg, but Henry is still in the running, now 17th overall.
“There’s a lot planned and it should be a great stopover. Obviously being the home stopover, there are a lot of sponsorship commitments with my sponsors because a lot of them are from the area. I’m also going to try to rest up as much as possible. There’s still one leg to go and I imagine the rankings will be quite open – people I had an hour on are now probably ahead of me. There’s still a lot to do – the next leg is rounding that same coastline twice! There’s definitely going to be huge differences again in the last leg.”
Finally, British Rookies Rob Bunce and Andrew Baker crossed the finish line in Torbay in 26th and 32nd respectfully. The crowds were out in force on Beacon Quay, enjoying the sunshine and what the Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Race Village has to offer. The Race Village will be open on Beacon Quay, Torquay Harbour every day between Wednesday 17th and Sunday 21st June when the fleet will restart the race at 1600 BST from Tor Bay. Entertainment highlights include daily live music, fireworks (Saturday 20th June, 2230), a Pro-Am race, cooking demonstrations, children’s entertainment, martial arts displays, a Race Village bar and much more. See the full event schedule here