Gerald Veniard takes line honours on the first leg of La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro 10/8/06

Gerald Veniard has taken line honours on the first leg of the 37th edition of La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro. Crossing the finish line at 18h31 last night the skipper of Scutum took 79 hours, 24 minutes and travelled at an average 7.43 knots over the 590-mile course from Cherbourg to Santander.

Veniard, who moved into the lead yesterday morning, battled it out alone in the tricky, decreasing breeze and managed to hold off his pursuers eventually finishing 23 minutes ahead.

Although Veniard had victory in sight yesterday afternoon he was starting to feel the pressure as he approached Santander, commenting: “The wind is variable. I can tell you that there are all the ingredients to make this stressful. It is looking good, but it this is not over. I have managed to put a bit of distance between myself and the others and really going for it. Since crossing the English Channel I have done well and have managed to go a bit faster and found the right tuning for the boat, managing to pick them off one by one and put some distance between myself and the others.”

The following three boats arrived in quick succession including Gilda Morvan (Cercle Vert) 23 minutes and 2 seconds astern, then Charles Caudrelier (Bostik) 24 minutes and 12 seconds behind, Armel le Cléac’h (Brit Air) 24 minutes and 36 seconds, and finally Yann Elies (Groupe Generali Assurances) 26 minutes and 50 seconds after the winner.

News has emerged this morning however, that Veniard will have to attend a jury hearing in St Gilles Croix de Vie and there’s a possibility he’ll have to take a time penalty for carrying extra weight contravening Rule RC