Sam Davies is currently mid-fleet after gaining several places
Skandia skipper, Samantha Davies, looks like she is settling into the first leg of the 1,710 mile four-leg Solitaire du Figaro marathon, after an unsettling start yesterday. Skandia hit some rocks less than two hours into the race and Sam immediately hoisted a red flag to protest another competitor who had not given her sufficient water to stay clear. But Sam appears to have recovered well, gaining ground on the boats in front through the night. By this morning Sam had moved up nine places to 24th place out of the 46-boat fleet, just 7 miles behind the leader Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel), Yann Elies (Groupe Generali Assurances) in 2nd and Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) in 3rd. After holding the lead from the start, Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper of Geant, lost his lead this morning after his spinnaker ripped, and this afternoon was in 13th place.
After a night of downwind sailing, the fleet turned the corner at Ushant and are now reaching across the Bay of Biscay towards their final destination at the Spanish port of Getxo-Bilbao – the latest ETA is midday tomorrow for the leaders. The pace has been fast and furious in windy ENE conditions and rough seas – there is no option but for full wet weather gear. Leaving the helm for any length of time is almost impossible, forcing the skippers to grab food and snatch some sleep when they can in the shortest possible time. At 1500 BST today the Figaro Beneteau fleet were on the same longitude as Port Bourgenay [the final finish port of Leg 4] in 15-20 knots of breeze under mainsail and either genoa or solent ,averaging around 9 knots of boat speed. The majority of boats are in sight of each other with Skandia positioned in 26th place – practically bang, smack in the middle of the fleet – at the1500 BST poll. Only 10 miles separates Sam from the leader, Kito de Pavant, and this close combat means little down-time as the skippers helm nearly full-time to keep an edge on their competitors.
At the half way mark of this 390-mile first leg, Skandia has 195 miles to go to Getxo-Bilbao. The wind is due to increase to 27 knots tonight, and the sea state will become quite rough bringing another fast and wet night of sailing for SKANDIA. Sam will be hoping to arrive by early tomorrow afternoon, as tomorrow night could see the forecasted NE 18-22 knot breeze disappear as thunderstorms off the coast of Bilbao develop bringing variable winds both in direction and strength.
A knee injury has forced Jacques Einhorn out of the race, reducing the fleet to 45 boats.
LEG 1 POSITIONS: PERROS-GUIREC TO GEXTO-BILBAO (1500BST 8/8/05)
1. De PAVANT Kito / GROUPE BEL 185.6miles to finish
2. MORVAN Gildas / CERCLE VERT 186miles
3. EMIG Marc / TOTAL 186.7miles
4. PELLECUER Laurent / CLIPTOL SPORT 186.9miles
5. TABARLY Erwan / THALES 187miles
6. ELIES Yann / GROUPE GENERALI ASSURANCES 187.2miles
7. CAUDRELIER Charles / BOSTIK 187.4miles
8. DUTHIL Fréderic / BROSSARD 188.3miles
9. KRAUSS Olivier / ESPOIR CREDIT AGRICOLE 188.3miles
10. BERENGER Nicholas / KONE Ascenseurs 189.4miles
26. DAVIES Sam / SKANDIA 195miles