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10 August 2005, 03:48 pm
Lightening Speed Finish For Figaro Fleet
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La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro 2005
Getxo-Bilbao, Spain

Gildas MORVAN (FRA), the "Green Giant" on Cercle Vert crossed the line at 10:49:34 hours French time to win the first leg of La Solitarie Afflelou Le Figaro race. The 390 mile run from Perros-Guirec in Brittany, France to Getxo-Bilbao, Spain, was fast, wet and merciless for the 45 skippers taking part in the annual race, now in its 36th year.
Relentless from the start, the pace gradually built on the final sprint through the Bay of Biscay. Long spinnaker runs and hours at steering the 10 metre Figaro Bénéteau 2 boats allowed for little if any sleep and food. MORVAN won the Prologue Afflelou race last Friday, and so far defied the superstition that, winning the Prologue means not winning the Figaro. MORVAN has three previous third places in the overall ranking in past editions (1999, 2000 and 2001).

MORVAN negotiated the long reach down the Bay with care, getting the best performance out of his one-design and using the best sail combinations to achieve the highest possible average speed maintaining a direct course. The north easterly breeze lifted slightly allowing those who had opted for a more easterly course (particularly favoured by those who lost spinnakers) to make some gains, however last night 30 knot winds ensured top speeds, particularly for those leading.

One of the many race favorites, Jérémie BEYOU (FRA) on Delta Dore finished just 1 minute and 47 seconds behind the winner followed 17 seconds later by Laurent PELLECUER (FRA) on Cliptol Sport who achieved his first top position in the Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro. The first five were separated by less five minutes ensuring the competition remains wide open.

Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA) finished sixth nearly eight minutes behind the winner, yet ahead of seventh place Thierry CHABAGNY (FRA) on Lèbres-Bermudes, after gaining eleven places since the morning pole. Newcomer Pietro D'ALI (ITA) on Nanni Diesel, finished eighth in a remarkable first race in the Solitaire. Gérald VÉNIARD (FRA) on Scutum and Dominic VITTET (FRA) on Atao Audio System make up the top ten. Jeanne GRÉGOIRE (FRA) on Banque Populaire finished eleventh overall to become the first women to arrive in Getxo-Bilbao.

Charles CAUDRELIER (FRA), last year's winner on Bostik, was not displeased with his 24th place, 'Overall, I did well and not so well on this leg. At the end, the gap I have against Gildas is not so important. I thought I would loose a lot more!' Samantha DAVIES (GBR), finished 26th overall after an ordeal shortly after the start which caused her to be extra cautious during the rest of the race.

Sabina Mollart-Rogerson (As Amended By ISAF). Image, MORVAN celebrates:© Maramara Vialeron/Le Figaro
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