Xavier Macaire wins Stage 1 of La Solitaire du Figaro

Published on September 3rd, 2020

Saint-Brieuc, France (September 3, 2020) – Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) crossed the finish line at 06:17:55hrs French time today to win the 642 nautical miles first stage of the 51st La Solitaire du Figaro. His elapsed time is 3 days 17 hrs 55 mins, finishing only 1 min 35 seconds ahead of second placed Loïs Berrehar (Bretagne CMB Performance). Alexis Loison (Région Normandie) completed the podium at 7 mins and 3 seconds after Macaire.

It is the first ever stage win for 39 year old Macaire on a Figaro solo racing career which spans ten years and which includes two overall podiums, second in 2013, and third in 2016.

He was denied a leg victory on the last leg in 2015. After finishing first across the line into Dieppe he was judged to have sailed inside a forbidden zone some 18 miles from the finish and was penalized an hour by the jury.

Macaire is based out of Les Sables d’Olonne and races with the Team Vendée Formation. He took the lead of the 35 boat Figaro Beneteau fleet of solo racers during a very challenging first night in very light and unstable winds and was never passed.

On the quick spinnaker return from the Fastnet lighthouse, the midpoint of the stage which was rounded on day two, Macaire retained almost metronomic consistency when under constant pressure from the chasing pack he held his ground to secure the narrowest of victories this morning.

The final miles into the finish line of Saint-Quay-Portrieux had all the intensity of an inshore championship finale, Macaire covered young pretender Loïs Berrehar, 27, through a dogged match race in a lightening breeze but the older sailor prevailed by just one minute and 35 seconds.

“What a relief…the finish was quite tense, because the more we approached the line, the more the wind eased, I saw everyone getting closer and closer, I was really scared of getting caught and losing this victory just on the line.” said Macaire. “I’ve been waiting for it for a long time, for this stage victory, I visualized the others with the champagne and was wondering if I will ever make it after winning before and being downgraded on jury, this time it’s for me, for real.”

On what is his first La Solitaire stage in the new Figaro Beneteau 3 design introduced last year, Britain’s Sam Goodchild finished in 11th place, after lying eighth for much of the second half of the leg before he lost three places in the final miles to the line. However, he is pleased at his result, finishing within 20 minutes of the winner who heads a very tightly packed Top 12.

“I made a few mistakes which cost me time here and there which I can do better next time, but on the whole I think I sailed pretty well,” said Goodchild. “It was not very easy weather conditions but I just think if I did some things a bit tidier and easier, though this is my first Figaro back in six years, my first in the Figaro 3 and so these are not big surprises to me.

“I am within 20 minutes at the end of the leg so that is not too bad. It is funny to race so hard for days and earn 10 miles of advance on people and then finish within minutes of them but that is the Figaro. I lost these silly places and times.

“During the race I had some seaweed round the keel which everyone gets but I faffed around not sailing properly, I should have got rid of it, stopped the boat and gone backwards and got on with it. And I was not so clear on the weather and my choices and spent too long zigging and zagging around. I did not fully manage the weather properly.”

As top international to lead the standings for the VIVI Trophy, he pipped Tom Dolan (Smurfitt Kappa) on the line by two seconds, the Irish skipper taking 12th. Up in third on the approach to Fastnet, Dolan lost places on the approach but delivers a solid result on which to build some consistency.

“It was great to see Fastnet and it was nice to be up the front for a bit but I just messed up a bit coming across the Irish Sea,” said Dolan. “We had all sorts of conditions. The last two years my first legs have been a disaster. But 12th is OK and I am in touch with the leader. But at this stage it is all about time, not so much about placings.”

Among those who recovered best was Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019) who marched through the fleet to seventh after rounding Fastnet 21st, nearly 10 miles behind Macaire at the turn for home.

Stage 1 finish order, before jury (All times French local):
1. Xavier MACAIRE (Groupe SNEF), finished at 06:17:55 after 3 days 17 hours17 minutes and 55 seconds
2. Loïs BERREHAR (Bretagne CMB Performance), finished at 06:19:30 after 3 days 17 hours 19 minutes and 30 seconds (at 1’35’’ from first)
3. Alexis LOISON (Région Normandie), finished at 06:24:58 after 3 days 17 hours 24 minutes and 58 seconds (at 7’03’’ from first)
4. Armel LE CLÉAC’H (Banque Populaire), finished at 06:28:15 after 3 days 17 hours 28 minutes and 15 seconds (at 10’20’’ from first)
5. Fabien DELAHAYE (Laboratoires Gilbert), finished at 06:30:50 (at 12’55’’ from first)
6. Tom LAPERCHE (Bretagne CMB Espoir), finished at 06:31:26 (at 13’31″ from first)
7. Pierre QUIROGA (Skipper Macif 2019), finished at 06:33:15 (at 15’20” from first)
8. Tanguy LE TURQUAIS (Groupe Quéguiner – Innoveo), finished at 06:36:48 (at 18’53″ from first)
9. Corentin DOUGUAND(NF Habitat), finished at 06:34:04(at 19’09” from first)
10.Fred DUTHIL (Technique Voile / CabinandBourhis Generali), finished at 06:37:36 (at 19’41” from first)
11. Sam GOODCHILD (Leyton), finished at 06:38:08 (at 20’13” from first; 1st for Vivi Trophy)
12. Tom DOLAN (Smurfit Kappa), finished at 06:40:02 (at 22’7” from first)
13. Eric PÉRON (French Touch), finished at 06:41:20 (at 23’25” from first)
14. Yann ELIÈS (Quéguiner Matériaux – Leucémie Espoir), finished at 06:41:46 (at 23’51” from first)
15. Pierre LEBOUCHER (Guyot Environnement), finished at 06:43:19 (at 25’24’’ from first)
16. Martin LE PAPE (Fondation Stargardt), finished at 06:45:15
17. Achille NEBOUT (Be Green Ocean), finished at 06:46:12
18. Adrien HARDY (Ocean Attitude), finished at 06:46:35
19. Gildas MAHE (Breizh Cola), finished at 06:48:48
20. Anthony MARCHAND (Groupe Royer – Secours Populaire), finished at 06:53:44
21. Nils PALMIERI (TeamWork), finished at 06:55:36
22. Benoit MARIETTE (Génération Senioriales), finished at 06:56:06
23. Violette DORANGE (Devenir), finished at 06:59:37
24. Elodie BONAFOUS (Bretagne CMB Oceane), finished at 07:01:20
25. Jack BOUTTELL (Fromagerie Gillot), finished at 07:08:49
26. Alberto BONA (Sebago), finished at 07:09:05
27. Marc MALLARAND(CER Occitanie), finished at 07:14:16
28. Alan ROBERTS (Seacat Services), finished at 07:14:17
29. Phil SHARP(OceansLab), finished at 07:18:07
30. Kevin BLOCH (Team Vendee Formation), finished at 07:27:33
31. Erwan LE DRAOULEC (Skipper MACIF 2020), finished at 07:29:4032.
32. Robin FOLLIN (Ville de Sainte-Maxime), finished at 07:37:58
33. Robin Marais (Ma chance Moi aussi), finished at 07:43:35

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The four-leg solo 1830 nm race in the latest generation foil-equipped one design Figaro Bénéteau 3 is a fiercely competitive proving ground for solo sailors. Analysis of the race course by the Race Director:

Leg 1: a 642 mile voyage to the Fastnet and back (August 30 to September 2)

“The only waypoint in this first long leg will be the Fastnet Rock, which they will have to leave to starboard. It is going to be very open for the solo sailors from the start, with everyone attempting to find the right tactics and avoid the traps in the Channel and Celtic Sea,” explained Francis Le Goff. Once they have left Saint-Brieuc Bay, the skippers will head for Ireland while avoiding the rocks around the Isles of Scilly and respecting the various shipping lanes (TSS) to the West of Cornwall on the way out and back. Anything is possible. They can go inside or outside the islands, so we can look forward to an exciting tactical game…


Leg 2: 497 miles to Dunkirk via the English coast (September 6 to 9)

They will have to watch out for all the shipping and sandbanks. “From Saint-Quay-Portrieux, the fleet will head for the Wolf Rock to the South West of Land’s End, and then make their way towards a waypoint close to Antifer light near Etretat before heading for the finish off Dunkirk. In this leg, they are going to have to make sure they are able to remain alert and focused over the final miles. “This is a leg, where keeping a clear head for the final few miles will be key to the outcome,” explained Francis Le Goff. In this second leg, it will all be very open between Wolf Rock and the Alabaster Coast of Normandy, but there will also be a lot of traps lying in store, such as the TSS, which means the room for manoeuvre will be limited all the way to Dunkirk. There is all the cross-Channel shipping between Calais and Dover, and then the tidal currents and sandbanks all the way to the finish. They will have to manage their sleep and that is going to be vital in this leg for them to be able to stay fresh for the final stretch…


Leg 3: a 504 mile coastal leg from Dunkirk to Saint-Nazaire (September 12 to 15)

There are going to be some great sights along the way in this third leg with a wide range of backdrops. The Opal, Alabaster, Mother-of-pearl coasts of Normandy and the Pink Granite coast and craggy cliffs at the tip of Brittany, the Megalithic Coast of Southern Brittany, the Love Coast and Jade Coast of the Loire Estauary area. So many brilliant things to see, yet the leg is full of hurdles: tricky headlands and capes, tidal currents, islands and rocks, fishermen… 500 miles of high-tension sailing, with one eye on the charts, and the other on the sails with some sleepless nights ahead.


Leg 4: a 24 hour and 183 mile sprint between the islands for the Grand Finale (September 19 to 20)

After three hard, testing stages, the solo sailors will have to draw deeply on their reserves for for 24 hours of racing, a loop which should take them between the Ile d’Yeu and Belle-Île via the Ile de Groix before seeing them return to the Loire-Atlantique to crown the big winner of this 51st edition which promises to be full of twists and turns.


Source: La Solitaire du Figaro

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