Guerin and Elies lead the two-handed Figaros

As soon as the 18 Figaro’s started their channel race off the Southampton Boat Show on Friday, the fog set in thick and fast. The skippers who rightly predicted the weather systems throughout this overnight race must have been looking into a crystal ball!

The wind was shifty and a wrong call meant a hard fight all the way across against strong currents. Only Le Cleac’h & Troussel (Cotes D’Armor-Le Telegramme), by heading further east, tamed the current all the way across at an average speed of 9 knots to arrive in to Fecamps first, followed by Beyou-Jourdren (Volkswagen Castrol) and Guerin-Elies (L’Artisanat). The majority of the fleet were to be kept from the finish line for several hours after mistiming the currents.

The fleet went straight into their 10th race along the French coastline. To avoid the ripping tide they raced right inshore among hazardous rocks. Drouglazet-Bouscholte (Carven Defenders) took revenge after their heavy penalty in a previous race, by commanding the entire race. Despite jumping the gun and dodging rocks jutting up in their path to restart, overall leaders Guerin & Elies managed to finish third.

With only one more race to contest in after an intense week of boat to boat combat, British competitor Alex Thomson has fared well against these Figaro pros.

Alex said before setting out on the channel race: “I prefer these long-haul races and I am really keen to get into it and work hard – Christophe and I have been working together better, but I still speak French as badly as he speaks English!” With co-skipper Christophe Coatnoan (Groupe Partouche), they arrived 14th in the channel race where two boats abandoned the course, and went on to score 9th in the afternoon.

Provisional classification after 10 races:

1. L’Artisanat – R. Guerin/Y. Elies

2. Cercle Vert – G. Morvan/ J.L. Nelias

3. Volkswagen Castrol – J. Beyou/B. Jourdren

14. Groupe Partouche – A.Thomson (UK)/C. Coatnoan