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Figaro solo race begins


Good weather could be bad karma for the fleet of 38 as the Figaro solo race begins its second, 540-mile leg from Plymouth out to the Fastnet Rock off the south-west corner of Ireland then back to the finish in the fishing and ferry port of Roscoff on the northern tip of Brittany.

The breeze as they started in the evening was expected to soften and soften so, although it gave them a straight line run both ways, traps and trickery were lying in wait. The difficult tactical choices were how to beat the tides and handle the shipping separation zone.

This is a race scored on cumulative time for the four legs and it is not difficult to lose many hours sitting in a wind hole or struggling against an adverse tide.

Less than 10 minutes separate the top three, headed by Alexis Loison, who, with his father Pascal, won the doublehanded class of the Rolex Fastnet Race last year, so he should know the way. His win into Plymouth was helped when the then leader, Yann Elies, was dismasted rounding Wolf Rock.

Elies has a new mast but carries a penalty of 10 hrs 3min 59sec, the time of the last two boats on the first leg, plus two hours. Also completing mast repairs was 22-placed Henry Bomby, one of eight British competitors in a very French race and one of the Cowes-based Artemis Offshore Academy competitors. They train together out of Port la Foret and they operate as a team, enjoying repair support and some management from a project co-ordinated by Charles Darbyshire.

It was one of their number, Sam Matson, who, making his Figaro debut, was not only first rookie into what are his home and university waters of Plymouth but first of those eight Brits.