Armel Le Cléac’h on Brit Air has won the first leg of Solitaire du Figaro

At precisely 01:42:32 this morning (Saturday 31 July) Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) crossed the finish line two miles outside the port of Gijon, Spain, after 83 hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds racing. He covered the 515 miles at an average speed of 6.9 knots.

He sailed a great race from the very start and had never been less than the top five, moving into the lead just after passing the Brittany Point on Thursday at dawn, only temporarily conceding the first place to François Gabart and to the rookie Yoann Richomme (DLBC).

Yann Eliès (Generali Europ Assistance) and Eric Peron (Skipper Masif 2009) crossed the finish line in second and third place respectively. The 45 skippers participating in the first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro from Le Havre to Gijón are now all moored on the pontoons after more than three days at sea. First rookie to finish was Yann Richomme in seventh place overall.

Yann Eliès’s time deficit in the overall ranking will be considered as provisional as a minimum 30 minute time penalty will be imposed once the jury meet in Brest to hear the case of a broken engine seal. Eliès was forced to break the seal to in order to get his boat off the sand when he ran aground off Finisterre midway into the race whilst in the lead.

“The alert system did not activate and I went aground, that’s basically it,” eplained Yann. “I have no regrets because I believe I sailed well up to the finish and I’m all right with what I did. It’s not easy to go back racing after such a disappointment, I made a huge mistake and I probably ruined the rest of my Solitaire, but that’s part of the game… and maybe not everything is lost, I still have a chance and I still wish to fight back.”

Armel Le Cléac’h commented at the end: “It’s a great win. It was pretty exhausting on the first two days, I reckon I haven’t slept at all for 48 hours. But I knew that the passage at the Sein was crucial and I could not get any rest. I started to have hallucinations, forgetting I was racing, not knowing exactly where I was. Good I could get some rest last night and get ready for this last sprint to the finish. It was a complicated race, it’s been hard to make the right choices, the weather was not always what we expected and we had a bit of everything. I’m going to enjoy my victory now and get ready for next leg…”

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