Leg 2 of La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro started yesterday from Crosshaven 7/8/07

The second leg of La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro from Crosshaven to Brest got underway yesterday after a general recall. The 50 solo sailors competing finally made a clean start in the light and varied conditions in the Bay of Cork at precisely 11h26 local time.

The six-mile inshore course was made up of a two-mile beat followed by a short reach and final downwind run to the Radio France offset mark. The boats starting on the Committee Boat end of the start line, closer to shore, found slightly more pressure, giving them a chance to break away for an early lead in the light 5-knot breeze.

Conditions could not have been more mixed on the water; brilliant sunshine, sudden squalls with rain showers and a light breeze. The 50 brightly coloured spinnakers set against the green and rugged coastline of Southern Ireland, could not make for a more dramatic scene for the start.

The competitors had little time to enjoy the setting and had their work cut out from them right from the start of racing. “It was not an easy start; very technical and then a big cloud came in just over a fleet of 18s at the entrance to Crosshaven, so we could see they had good breeze; heading in we made a great gain from the start” describes Michel Desjoyeaux over the VHF. Starting form the right hand side, Foncia built an early lead round the inshore course to round the Radio France Mark ahead of Gildas Mahé (Le Comptoir Immobilier), Bertrand de Broc (Les Mousquetaires) and Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert).

Things were not looking so good for those who started on the left hand side of the line, most notably for Espoir Crédit Agricole skippered (Christopher Pratt), Gérald Veniard’s Scutum, Pietro D’Alì (Kappa) and Etienne Svilarich (Grain de Soleil). By the time Gavottes (Jean-Pierre Nicol), the last boat to reach the radio France mark, the gap between Foncia had built to 40 minutes.

The forecast south-west breeze is freshening as the fleet continued to make headway to the Fastnet Rock, a course mark to be left to port. Conditions should then strengthen for the spinnaker sprint south to Ushant.