Wily race veteran Alexis Loison (Groupe REEL) took the lead of Stage 2 the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec this afternoon as the fleet race back down the Saint George’s Channel – between Wales and Ireland – after rounding the Isle of Man’s Chicken Rock lighthouse in the very early hours of the morning.
After a two year absence Loison has returned to La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec for his 17th challenge, looking to finally put his name on the list of overall winners. His nearest rival on this stage, with just under 250 nautical miles to race to Roscoff, remains his Norman protégé Guillaume Pirouelle (Région Normandie), the 26 year old who finished runner up last year.
Pirouelle is nearly five miles behind but the leaders have light winds ahead as they pass the tidal currents of entrance to the Bristol Channel before taking on Land’s End tomorrow. Ireland’s Tom Dolan has remained steady in eighth place at just under seven miles behind the leader.
After Chicken Rock can the foxes strike?
Many of the pre-race favourites find themselves way behind where they would expect to be in this 32 strong fleet. The first night shaped the leg so far, with many heading offshore in search of a windshift which did not come. But they can still hold on to hopes of a compression and a chance to catch up before Land’s End or even right at the finish off Roscoff. Corentin Horeau, who podiumed on all the pre-Solitaire races, is 18th, more than 20 miles behind Loison whilst Lois Berrehar, another favourite and winner of the Transat Paprec is just ahead of Horeau. Loïs Berrehar (Skipper Macif 2022) sees opportunities ahead “There is not much wind, it is easing. I didn’t expect the Irish Sea to be like this, For sightseeing, it’s quite nice, for sailing a little less so. The situation is far from ideal. . I didn’t quite understand how we managed to get so far back, but sometimes it’s like that. But now, we’re waiting for our time to come back and be the foxes again! In front, there’s a ridge that’s going to pass over us. We’re going to all slow down but we should arrive with the wind; and then overtake them. The strategy is to be on the lookout and be smart, be cunning.”