Early start from Gijon in fourth leg of La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro race

The fourth and final leg of the leg for the singlehanded sailors competing in the 35th edition of La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro race starts today at the revised time of 12h00 noon (local Spanish) time from the port of Gijon.

Dennis Horeau, the sailing Race Director has decided to bring the start time forward. Commenting on the decision he said: “It is in order to allow the fleet to leave before the low pressure system, which will bring a south-westerly brings in a steady 30 to 35 knot wind with gusts of up to 45 when the system passes Wednesday evening,” according to the Météo Consult forecast. Denis added: “This will allow the competitors a start under more manageable conditions.”

The final sprint will take the competitors over a 316-mile course, which is made up of two stages: Firstly, there is a return crossing of the Gulf of 261 miles, with the same pitfalls as on the previous leg. Crossing the anticyclone that lies in the bay, circling it either by the east of west, lengthening the leg? All this without forgetting to watch the your closest rivals, who will take the lead after a last minute decision, gambling everything on the “tactical tack,” the verdict at Pen Men, to the north of the island of Groix, could be final.

Secondly, the last stage of this final leg is going to be no easier, with a final 55-mile inshore race between Pen-Men and Kerdonis point, to the south of Belle-Ile. There are shallow rocky waters to be avoided and strong currents between the islands and hundreds of rocks that border them, together with the summers frequent thermal breezes both day and night all to be taken into account. All this before reaching the calmer waters of Quiberon Bay for the final determining tack all the way to Port Haliguen.

The low depression across the Atlantic was forecast to hit last night giving the skippers 30-35 knots of westerly, south-westerly wind with gusts of up to 45 leading on Thursday as the fleet head east across the Bay of Gascony. The wind should swing round gradually from south west to west and then north-west and will ensure a fast pace for the leg. Some of the Solitaires might even cover the 316-mile course in less than 48 hours.

The Race Committee has also decided to cancel the eight-mile inshore course set in the Bay of Gijon to allow for the skippers to advance before the low-pressure system to set in. There will be a final briefing held at 09h00 before the race start.