La Solitaire du Figaro - The buzz in Caen

La Solitaire du Figaro 2011
© Courcoux Marmara
La Solitaire du Figaro’s first leg may be over but, there is the sport of sailing and competition on the water to talk about.

There is a life at sea we only find out about once the sailors relax and are back to fill you in on the ups and downs of their race and the little things that go on that are unusual, surprising, encouraging or just plain funny at times. We rarely get to hear about them so we catch up with a few taken off guard before they start focusing on preparing their weather and strategy for the next leg to Dun Laoghaire in Ireland.

Olympic visit: 'Off Portland Bill, sailing along the south coast of England, we were surprised to see a rib zipping up to see us. There was Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron (from the French 470 sailing team) who are training in Weymouth, for the next Olympic games. They were with their coach, Philippe Gildas. It was fun to see them; they are from Le Havre and me too. I used to know them when I was sailing in 420. Charlie Dalin (Keopsys)

Anchoring a rock: 'In the Raz Blanchard, I anchored, but after about five minutes, I told myself it was silly. So I pulled up the 130 metre rope and then with very sore hands finally hauled the anchor up only to find a rock on the end. I thought it was a bit heavy! Alexis Loison (Port de Chantereyne Cherbourg-Octeville)

Enjoying the cricket: Whilst sailing along the South Coast I managed to pick up BBC Radio 4 and Radio 5 on by SSB receiver and managed to hear the winning delivery for the last Indian to be bowled out in the second Test Match. It was perfect as I connected a lead to my stereo, which plays out on deck and could follow most of the fourth day of the test match against India which England won. Nigel King (E.Line Orthodontics)

Sunbathing: I was sailing along the South Coast of England by St. Alban when there was a 200 metre long rock with bunch of English tourists having a sunbathe. There was even a guy doing rock climbing on the cliff. We sailed in really close and they all waved and cheered us on. It made me want to go and have a swim too!' Loïc Le Garrec (Taste of events)

Birthday with a Minister: 'Usually, on July 31, my birthday, I am all alone at sea sailing on a leg of the Solitaire. This year, it happened to fall on the start day in Perros-Guirec. To celebrate, I was on the pontoons and got to kiss the Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko Morizet, being watched over by her slightly worried bodyguard!' Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert)

The afghan hound: There I was sailing along under spinnaker when suddenly I look over and see a gigantic furry thing. It was a big bunch of seaweed, but looked just like a huge afghan dog and it was caught up in my rudder. It must have taken at least 10 minutes of pulling at it all to get it off. Conrad Humphreys (DMS)

Unlucky sunglasses: 'During the pre-season races, I accumulated problems, loads of problems: electrics failure, torn spinnaker and a number of silly issues. I am not superstitious but I started to have doubts about whether it did not come down to there being an object on board that brought bad luck. I think I have found out what it is, because I had no bad luck on the first leg. It has to be the sunglasses with hairy side-burns a friend gave me. That is it; they are not coming back on the boat ever again!' Anthony Marchand (Espoir Crédit Mutuel).

Flying water: The race management makes us take 10 litres of water with us on the leg. There I was packing away my spinnaker, bent over the bag in which I went and packed away a stray bottle by accident. I got quite a surprise when I hoisted the spinnaker next to see the bottle flying into the water. I ended up at the finish in Caen thirsty and with a nasty headache. Yannig Livory (One Energy Network)

Wrapping the anchor round the keel: 'I never anchored in Figaro and the problem is not to dropping anchor, but hauling it back up! I did it from textbook, hauling in the anchor from the pulpit and then after about half an hour of pulling up 90 metres, the anchor gets wrapped around the keel. I thought I would have to go and dive in at 6:00 am to clear it in four knots of current. Thankfully I managed to get it unwrapped and saved a swim!' Damien Guillou (Solidarity Mutualiste)

The mutant fish: 'In the Bay of Seine, I came across something I had never seen in my life. I was clearing up seaweed stuck in my rudder as it passed beside me, right on the water’s surface. I was a white and red or rather pink fish with a really big head. A normal fish but with monstrous cheeks. As the Bay of Seine is a rather dirty place, I thought that maybe it was a kind of mutant fish!' Eric Peron (Macif 2009)

The punch that stops you dead in your tracks: 'When I had to anchor at the Raz Blanchard, there was 60 meters of depth and although I had let out 120 metres of rope, the anchor just would not hold. I got really annoyed and just punched the deck and then suddenly the boat came to a standstill. The anchor had stuck!' Frédéric Rivet (Vendée1)

Clearly identifiable floating object: 'I hit a pot. It was on the approach to England, a few miles before Hand Deeps, in the shipping lanes. I was inside when suddenly I heard a funny noise. When I came on deck, I saw that the floating thing was a sort of large metal bowl. Perhaps chucked out of the kitchen of a cargo boat?' Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Bûches)

CLS Prize for the most places caught up: The CLS rankings is a prize that is awarded for the best progress between the passage of the Radio France buoy (just outside Perros-Guirec) and the finish line in Ouistreham. It was Laurent Pellecuer (Atelier d’architecture JP Monier) who overtook the most boats, climbing 39 places followed by Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) with 34 boats and then by Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) with 31 boats. Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) is the rookie to have climbed up the most spaces in the fleet, 19 in total.

Phil Sharp is voted 'Sailor of the Month': Phil Sharp sailing on The Spirit of Independence has been voted Sailor of the Month by the public in the August issue of Seahorse magazine. Congratulations Phil!

La Solitaire du Figaro website