Denied the Stage 1 win by a rookie rules transgression – penalised 30 minutes for hanging material outside the guardrails – Mediterranean La Solitaire first timer Benoît Tuduri (CAPSO en Cavale) was making a further, late bid for glory on the third and final stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec.
With around 12 nautical miles to make to the southernmost turning mark of the 470 miles course, Tuduri seems to have nailed a beneficial lay line after taking a very inshore, easterly route and was threatening to pass the long time stage leader Elodie Bonafous (Quéguiner-La Vie en Rose) as the pacemakers surged towards the buoy.
Tuduri and Jules Delpech (ORCOM) – second and third before the mark – were coming in with speed having worked this most inshore line, down the Vendée coast past La Rochelle and both were looking like they might get a share of the time bonuses for passing the buoy which forms the Intermediate Sprint line.
On what looked at the outset to be a potentially challenging light flukeycourse, the 31 boat fleet has been making solid progress under spinnaker today finally giving the exhausted solo skipper a chance to grab some short catnaps to recharge their batteries. But the main peloton – which has been led by Bonafous since yesterday morning – remains very tightly packed – with less than five miles between the top ten and two miles separating the top five.
The battle for overall top honours still sees the advantage holding with the 22 year Basile Bourgnon (EDENRED) who started the leg with an 8mins 55s lead over Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire) and 32 minutes over Lois Berrehar (Skipper MACIF 2022). Bourgnon, the youngest skipper in the race who won Stage 2, is directly in front of Horeau in eighth and ninth respectively. His main goal now will be to monitor Horeau’s every move and cover him as much as possible on what should be a one an upwind leg 140 miles back to Piriac-sur-Mer on the French Loire Atlantique coast just west of La Baule.
Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) is well positioned in ninth place with what should be a chance to make some gains as they converge on the mark which only six miles off the coast between Arcachon and the entrance to the Gironde Estuary.
Basile Bourgnon (Edenred), this afternoon: “We are finally progressing in conditions conducive to going fast, it is comfortable for the skipper and the boat which is going faster. And unlike yesterday, the weather is nice. We’re almost in shorts! I’m sailing, I’m happy and enjoying the sport, I’m in the game, at least I think so, even if I don’t see Corentin (Horeau). I follow Loïs (Berrehar) closely. We have a bit of the same strategy. For now, as long as there is wind, everything is fine. I’m enjoying it, I’m not sure I know how to manage stress, so I’ll try to just focus on sailing well, as I have done so far. It’s working. There is no reason why it should not work on this stage. On the AIS (Automatic Identification System), I see my mates who are 4-5 miles away: Alexis (Loison), Elodie (Bonafous), Gaston (Morvan) or even Loïs, but not the rest of the fleet. We regularly call each other on the VHF with Loïs. We talk, we’re friends. Everything’s rosy as long as he’s not in front!”
Loïs Berrehar (Skipper Macif 2022), also this afternoon “There is a beautiful sun, there are flat seas and I am rocking it under spinnaker: it’s still very pleasant. It’s true that we are soon reaching the turning point in the race. I see a red spinnaker, that of Région Normandie and Banque Populaire, and down to lee I have Edenred and Région Bretagne – CMB Performance. I’m pretty well surrounded. There are no big gaps at the moment, even if it could widen a little on a long leg like that under spinnaker. But we’re going to go around a buoy in 55 miles. We’ll be there this evening. And we’re going to come back upwind. This will therefore compress the fleet. I’m not at the real, real front, but not very far. It’s nice to chat with Basile on the VHF. And no, we didn’t talk about Corentin (Horeau). But we will find him soon. There, I begin to see it in person. I try not to make a religion of the progress of my little friends. Corentin had a slight shift last night, but it’s not a super risky attack either. For this end of the stage, I’m concentrating, trying to do the best possible race. It’s true that with Basile, we are grouped together, and that Corentin has become a little detached. But we still have to give you all a little suspense!”
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by La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec