The Generali Solo 2011 - 1 - 21 June 2011 - Regatta Europa 2011


Marseille - Leucate - Porquerolles, from 1 to 21 June 2011
The Solitaire du Figaro
Perros-Guirec, Caen, Dun Laoghaire (Irl), Les Sables d’Olonne, Dieppe
31 July to 28 August 2011
The Quiberon Solo
24 to 30 September 2011
French Solo Offshore Racing Championship
Generali Solo 2011

Jean-Pierre Nicol, fifth into Leucate

Arriving in the Languedoc port of Leucate in the early hours of this morning, the protagonists racing in the Generali Solo kept up the suspense all the way to the finish in this port-to-port hop, which set out from Marseille on Sunday afternoon. Going it alone on a more coastal trajectory, Jean-Pierre Nicol gave it his all in a bid to avoid a tricky section after the start and get back up with the frontrunners. This daring move was rewarded by a fine fifth place on the line for the skipper of Bernard Controls and it proved to be another opportunity to showcase the skills of this exceptional racer.

Relatively simple on paper, the first offshore race of the Generali Solo was actually unusually complicated once the fleet cast off from Marseille’s Vieux Port at the weekend. Added to the threat of erratic winds for the majority of the course was the prospect of being ensnared by the local Tramontana. As such, keen to show just what he was made of from the start, Jean-Pierre Nicol attacked the first section of this 200 mile plus circuit with a determination that was evident from the moment the starting gun sounded across the bay. However, the Mediterranean was just as keen to make life the characteristic lottery for the Figaro sailors: "I was leading at the start, neck and neck with the hot shots. It was go, go, go and then offshore of Cassis, the three boats I was with got through and I got stuck where I was. I felt a bit demoralised at that point because I realised that I would have to battle my way up through the fleet again. Still, my goal was to stay with the leaders. Having slipped back a bit, I knew that I had to take risks and play my hand! At Cap Cissié, I tried to take the inside lane and ended up at the back again..."

Playing the thermals
Seeing his rivals stealing inexorably away again as they snatched any sniff of breeze in a bid to eek out a lowly 2 or even 3 knots of boat speed, Jean-Pierre Nicol opted to draw on his reserves to get free of the zone and go for broke: “In the early hours, I dipped back into my weather notes again. The whole fleet were making towards Leucate and I was well behind by then. I decided I needed to try a different option and go and play the thermal breezes. I had to commit to it fully even though I knew I wasn’t going to be making headway directly towards the goal. I then hit some wind whilst the others were making laboured progress offshore and the thermal breeze accompanied me all the way to La Grande Motte at the end of the day. When it dropped away, I plunged towards the mark and continuously hung onto the wind". Pushed along by two knots more breeze than his rivals, the skipper of Bernard Controls picked off his rivals one by one and finally snatched fifth place in a stage won by the young Morgan Lagravière: "At one point I told myself that I could win this, but that wouldn’t have been very fair given the fact that the others had much tougher sailing conditions than me.”

Gunning for glory all the way!
Tired after just two 10 minute naps in this race, today Jean-Pierre Nicol is happy to be among the frontrunners in a fleet where everyone is so evenly matched in terms of performance: "This is all very positive. Since the start of this Generali Solo, I haven’t got beyond eighth position before. That’s all history now though! I know that the cards could still be reshuffled but all I want is to play for the win with my sights on the podium all the way to the end!" Fifth in the Marseille-Leucate stage and its coefficient 3, the skipper of Bernard Controls is also in fifth place in the overall provisional ranking, with 34 points to his credit, compared with 18 for the provisional leader Fabien Delahaye. Tomorrow is a rest day for the solo sailors, who will be back in competition mode on Thursday during the Leucate Grand Prix.

  • 15.06.2011 - Jean-Pierre Nicol second in Porquerolles
  • 13.06.2011 - Jean-Pierre Nicol ready to take risks between Leucate and Porquerolles
  • 07.06.2011 - Jean-Pierre Nicol, fifth into Leucate
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