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Jérémie Beyou crossed the finish line in St. Gilles Croix-de-Vie to win the second leg of La Solitaire du Figaro.  in an elapsed time of 52 hours 21 minutes 37 seconds – equivalent to an average speed across the 365 mile passage of 6.97 knots. The leg win secured a remarkable come back for the Breton skipper of the Figaro Bernard Paoli, who climbed from the back of the fleet at the start in Coruna to the very front and dominated the second half of the race across the Bay of Biscay.

Beyou owes his success on this leg to his choice of a more north-westerly route than most of his competitors, ensuring that he was the first to benefit from any reinforcement of the predominantly northern breeze: “It was a case of winning a favourable position in the early stages, and then watching every little detail, not letting any opportunity go by. I was above the rest of the fleet throughout and needed to be because the wind was very shifty, like during the final afternoon when it was really at its worst. You just had to be steering and trimming the whole time. It was a definite decision to go north to find the breeze. That position above the fleet was a good one to be in, because I could bear down on them at any time. I was a bit early in making my move perhaps, I could have waited a bit longer, but there you go, it paid off anyway. I’m back in the overall rankings, back in the game; I’m no longer 46 minutes behind the leader”. Beyou now stands 5th overall, 27 minutes behind the leader.

The third leg, which starts tomorrow, is likely to be more of a technical test, with abundant strategic options and the opportunity to make big gains, or suffer big losses. With some tricky obstacles to negotiate, the 485 mile passage from St. Gilles Croix-de-Vie to Dingle in Ireland could easily deliver a radical shake up. From St. Gilles the 52 boat fleet will pass by Ile d’Yeu, heading along the coast of Brittany via marks at Spineg and Cap Caval, before going offshore into the Western Approaches. It is then a case of choosing the best way they can, with no further waypoints before the arrival in the picturesque Irish port. The decisive moment is likely to have come well before then, with the effects of a disintegrating weather front, a ridge of high pressure, thermal effects along the Breton coast and fierce currents at Cap Caval all threatening to wipe out the negligible accumulated time differences presently separating many boats. ssome good vids here.