Sam's Figaro 32 Skandia appears undamaged after being forced onto rocks soon after the start

On 7th August, SKANDIA skipper Sam Davies began the 2005 Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro, the 1,710 mile solo marathon between France, Spain and Ireland.  At 1000 BST this morning, Leg 1 from Perros-Guirec, France to Getxo-Bilbao, Spain (390 miles)got underway in a 10-knot north-easterly breeze. According to Race Director Christian Gout it was “an excellent start” with just one individual recall for Lionel Péan on L’Esprit d’Equipe.

Solo offshore legend, Michel Desjoyeaux (Geant) nicknamed ‘The Professor’ led the fleet round the first race mark, the AGF buoy, followed by Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel) and Laurent Pellecuer (Cliptol Sport). With just half a mile separating the fleet as they rounded the mark, SKANDIA was positioned in the middle of the fleet.

But just 1 hour and 40 minutes later, Sam suffered an unnerving incident when the keel of SKANDIA hit the rocks close to the “Pierre du Chenal” tower, just in front of Perros-Guirec.  Sam immediately hoisted a red flag to protest against another competitor for not giving her sufficient clear water.

Race Director, Christian Gout, and the Race Committee agreed to allow a member of the organisation on board SKANDIA to assess the damage to the boat. The initial assessment was that the boat was not at risk so Sam decided to continue with her race. Sam’s boat preparateur, Erwan LeMeilleur, reported that the structure of the keel appears undamaged but on arrival in Getxo-Bilbao, Sam and Erwan, will be able to fully assess if there is any other damage.

Eric Drouglazet also ran aground after the start but appears to have suffered no damage to his boat CREDIT MARITIME, so he will also continue with his race.

The fleet will be racing downwind under spinnaker towards Ushant on the north-west corner of France. At around midnight tonight, the wind is expected to increase up to 30 knots from the east bringing fast reaching conditions but Sam may feel the need to sail more conservatively than usual as the worry of damage will weigh heavily on her mind especially when the fleet cross the nototrious Bay of Biscay.

As they approach the north coast of Spain, thunderstorms are forecasted that can suck away the breeze and leave the Solitaire skippers totally becalmed.  The Figaro fleet is due to arrive in Getxo-Bilbao on Tuesday afternoon (9th August), which leaves two days for any repair work to be completed before departing on Leg 2 of the race to La Rochelle on Friday, 12th August.