The dream conditions arrived at last for the start of the 38 mile race from Le Lavandou to Porquerolles at 9.25 in the morning. The 31 Figaro skippers pushed their boats through the 12 knot easterly breeze on the route to Porquerolles. Eric Drouglazet (Carven Defenders) sailed well ahead of the fleet, immediately followed by Joé Seeten (Chocolamour), Jean Le Cam (Jet Services), Bertrand de Broc (Malongo), Sébastien Josse (Espoir Crédit Agricole) and Yann Eliès (Groupe Generali Assurances), which led to fairly tense buoy roundings throughout the race.
One novice, Sydney Gavignet (TBS), began putting pressure on the leaders as he came up to 6th place after 2 hours of racing.
Led by Drouglazet, Le Cam, Eliès and de Broc, the race took the boats between the Islands of Porquerolles, Port Cros and Levant before returning south to the harbour at Hyères. It was a truly spectacular sight from the official race boat, to watch all the boats, under spinnaker, suddenly hit strong gusts of wind which made even these solo skippers momentarily lose control of the helm and either go into an unavoidable near broach or luff.
Even though the first 10 boats were not more than 5 minutes apart as they raced across the line under spinnaker, Eric Drouglazet (Carven Defenders) deserved this victory, as he led the fleet right from start to finish. Returning to the pontoon, Irishman Damian Foxall, who came18th in Barlo Plastics, had a smile on his face: “Days like these in the Med are why I love racing here. Sometimes the weather is disappointing, but when you have a day with perfect conditions, it’s just an awesome experience.”
CLASSIFICATIONS FOR RACE 3:
1. Eric Drouglazet (Carven Defenders)
2. Yann Eliès (Groupe Generali Assurances) 3. Jean Le Cam (Jet Services)
17. Marcus Hutchinson (Impact)
18. Damian Foxall (Barlo Plastics)
The race around the island of Porquerolles started with brilliant conditions but also one incident – Bertrand de Broc (Malongo) hit Frederique Brulé (France Telecom le Belier) just seconds before the start gun. De Broc had to bow out of the race to repair the damage before racing the next day.
The young Charles Coudrelier- Bénac (Groupe Pierre Le Goff) got the best start of this12 mile race and it took a few of those miles before Drouglazet (Carven Defenders), Marc Guessard (Nantes & Saint Nazaire) and Joé Seeten (Chocolamour) caught up with him.
Leading positions continued to swap around with Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) ahead on the broad reach, but overlapped on the last windward leg by Gilles Chiorri (meteoconsult.fr) & Marc Guessard (Nantes & Saint Nazaire). It was Guessard who took line honours, and proved to all that he would end his 4th year competing in the Figaro circuit in victorious style. He says, “Before I move on to other horizons, I want to race for a podium finish in my last year of Le Championnat de France Solitaire.”
Irishman Damian Foxall racing in ‘Barlo Plastics’, comments on the racing:
“The Figaro fleet are so close in terms of skill and experience, regardless of years, and so often the younger guys are challenging the older skippers right at the top of the fleet. It’s exciting but also frustrating to know that you could either win the race or end up in 20th position and still be only minutes behind the leading boats. I am pleased with ‘Barlo Plastics’ boat speed and I hope to improve my overall position in these excellent conditions during the final races at Porquerolles.”
CLASSIFICATIONS FOR RACE 4
1. Marc Guessard (Nantes & Saint Nazaire)
2. Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert)
3. Gilles Chiorri (meteoconsult.fr)
19. Damian Foxall (Barlo Plastics)
20. Marcus Hutchinson (Impact)
OVERALL CLASSIFICATIONS FOR THE FIRST FOUR RACES:
1. Yann Eliès (Groupe Generali Assurances) – 15 points
2. Marc Guessard (Nantes & Saint Nazaire) – 18 points
3. Jean Le Cam (Jet Services) – 23.