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Gwénolé Gahinet 9th in Concarneau - La Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire
At 22:14:13hrs (French time) on Friday, the Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten crossed the finish line of the second leg of La Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire in Concarneau. Gwénolé Gahinet took 9th place on the leg and is now in 6th place in the overall rankings.


Five minutes from the Top 5 in the leaderboard
After 2 days, 9 hours, 14 minutes and 33 seconds of racing, at an average speed of 5.76 knots, the skipper of the Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten finished 9th on the leg, 29 minutes behind the winner, Sébastien Simon (Bretagne-Crédit Mutuel Espoir). In Concarneau, a key base of Guy Cotten company, Gahinet was greeted at the finish line at sunset by his family, friends and sponsors. “I had a lot of problems early on in the leg and I never thought I’d finish 9th,” he said. “I'm really glad I managed to get back in the contest and the finish was amazing.” The result saw the young skipper make a good climb in the overall rankings, gaining two places, and he is now just 5 minutes and 19 seconds off the Top 5, the goal he had set himself for his second Solitaire du Figaro. “We're only halfway through, everything is still possible,” he said. “Jérémie Beyou is ahead of me, it will not be easy to overtake him but I’m planning to do it.”

After an enforced two-day stopover in Spain, the 39 competitors of La Solitaire du Figaro finally started on Wednesday at 1300hrs in La Coruña. In the first few hours, the scenario of the leg did not unfold as Gwénolé had imagined. “I made the choice to leave with a genoa and soon I found myself overpowered in 30 knots upwind,” he said. “I had to take it down and put up the solent. It’s a physically demanding manoeuvre in these conditions. I lost so much time, especially when I had to put the genoa back up quickly. Unfortunately when I was raising it got a 20cm tear,” added Gahinet, who had to take time out to repair it. And because trouble never comes alone, a few hours later, his mainsail tore by the more than a metre just above the boom. “It was a blow to morale,” Gahinet said. “I felt that it was never going to stop. Fortunately, I took a good strategic option and stayed in the middle group.”

The fantastic comeback
In 20th place, 8.5 miles from the leader, on Thursday at midday, Gahinet held nothing back and one by one rose up the leaderboard. “I couldn’t allow myself to finish 20th,” he said. “I made the right gybes in the right places. It was a really good and varied leg because we alternated long, very calm tacks and then phases of gybing where we had to react quickly,” the skipper of Safran-Guy Cotten explained. “Right up until the finish, there was a battle with Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) and Alan Roberts (Magma Structures). I finally managed to get away and gybe in a little lift and then passed them.”

Just after docking, Gahinet was already thinking of the third leg which starts tomorrow, (Sunday), at 1600hrs and finishes in Torbay in England.

Photo : PILPRE ARNAUD
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