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Fifth overall, a successful Solitaire for Gwénolé Gahinet
The end of the suspense came last night as the curtain fell on the 46th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard cachemire. After 3 days, 10 hours, 36 minutes and 16 seconds of racing at an average speed of 5.69 knots Gwénolé Gahinet crossed the finish line at 03:36:16hrs (French time) on Thursday taking 19th place on the fourth leg between Torbay in England and Dieppe in Normandy, France. It was a difficult last leg for the skipper of Safran-Guy Cotten, but he still managed to achieve his goal of a top 5 finish, coming 5th in the overall rankings. It was a great performance in only his second Solitaire

Mission accomplished
“It feels good to have finished," Gahinet said on arrival. “I've never been so tired, it was hard...” In the middle of the night on the pontoons of Dieppe, his eyes are red, his face is lined and drawn, but despite the fatigue, the smile of the skipper of Safran-Guy Cotten reflects his satisfaction at the end of this complicated leg. “It's great to finish 5th overall,” Gahinet said. “I was afraid last night when part of the fleet got ahead thanks to the sea breeze, but I achieved my goals. It was ambitious and I did it. We raced four exciting legs, it’s a real pleasure to sail at the front with sailors of this quality.” Fifth in the overall ranking, the skipper of Safran-Guy Cotten finished 2 hours 25 minutes 26 seconds behind the winner of La Solitaire, Xavier Macaire (Skipper Hérault) and less than 15 minutes behind Jérémie Beyou, fourth on Maître Coq. “Xavier Macaire deserves this great victory. He had a fantastic race.” Gahinet said.

A subdued last leg
Leaving Torbay on Sunday at 1700hrs, the 39 competitors were expecting a challenging last leg and that is what they got. “It was a winding but exciting route,” Gahinet said. “From upwind in the breeze, to downwind in light airs, there were twists all the time. I had a terrible start because one of the others luffed me on the line. I had to stop and then it didn’t go smoothly. I had some of those small sailing worries, I was scared of a breakage,” the skipper from Lorient said. “Fortunately, I got back in touch with the front of the fleet as we looped back in front of Torbay again.” And if hopes of a podium place on this last leg disappeared, the skipper of Safran-Guy Cotten spared nothing to protect his overall ranking. “On the Channel crossing, I tried to cover Jérémie Beyou but, in the end, he escaped. I lost my fourth place in the overall ranking, but the finish along the cliffs was amazing. I went close to the coast to shelter from the current and I didn’t expect the night sea breeze to pick up. It was a nice surprise because I was so tired that I needed it to finishing fast.”

A well-prepared Solitaire
With an 8th place finish in the first leg to Sanxenxo, 9th to Concarneau, 4th to Torbay and 19th to Dieppe, Gahinet took a great 5th place in the overall standings. Also in terms of racing, the skipper of the Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten made rapid progress during his second Solitaire du Figaro, with several tactical successes. “I’ve made good progress on how to take decisions and manage routing,” Gahinet said. “I'm more comfortable, more inspired, I managed myself through the race much better than last year even though, physically and mentally, it was tough. Before thinking about the next Solitaire, I will have some sleep first,” Gahinet said with a smile as he thanked his partners. “With Safran and Guy Cotten, I was able participate in this Solitaire with the best campaign. I’m touched by their welcome and I’m delighted to present them with this 5th place.”

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