Outcome of the 52nd La Solitaire du Figaro hangs in the balance
Thursday, September 16, 2021 8:21 PM
General classification leader Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019) has been fighting hard in light, very unsettled breezes to preserve his overall margin of 1 hour and 53 minutes as he comes under increasing pressure from second placed Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF).
With less than 35 nautical miles left of Stage 4, at 1730hrs CET/local time and with the course having been shortened to finish outside the entrance to the Loire Estuary, Macaire was leading Quiroga by nine miles. The skipper of Groupe SNEF has played the inshore line all the way down the Breton course whilst increasingly Quiroga has elected to stay offshore.
He was making just under six knots and complaining of the unsettled breeze whilst Macaire – who has twice been denied overall victory on the race by small, minor rule infringements – has been slightly quicker.
The outcome will be very much decided by whether the evening breeze stays at least as strong as it has been for Quiroga, the sailor who started his sailboat racing career on his native Mediterranean and is still, only just, on track to become the first overall winner of La Solitaire du Figaro from the south of France since Kito de Pavant in 2002.
Separated laterally by up to 15 miles during the long run, neither of the leading title contenders knew exactly where their rivals were as they were far outside the range of the AIS radar system.
Winner of Stages 2 and 3 Quiroga who had his 29th birthday on Tuesday reported late afternoon, "It's moving painfully slowly, We seem to always have this big swell which kills the power in the spinnaker in each wave. We don't have the wind we had forecast but we are moving towards the line. The wind turned southwest a few minutes ago, it was more from north before. It rises and falls between 3 and 6 knots. Yesterday afternoon I wanted to gybe earlier and I lost out to my rivals. I lost ground. Such is the final push on the very last round of this match.
Where is Macaire? I am wary of him, because on a big day like this he can do big damage, and he has played well since the start of this fourth stage. I'm suspicious of Tom (Laperche) but I know where he is. I didn't believe in inshore as the land it heats up a lot, there are thermal effects but the SN1 buoy is offshore, so that meant going inshore and then and gybing back to the open sea. It doesn't inspire me. I am not super calm before I answered this call I was already mourning the loss of the chance of first place on this stage. It's emotional at sea! I don't even know if this a good thing, a good strategy that I'm doing, we'll see what happens at the end! "