At 12:00 Thursday the 40 strong Solitaire du Figaro fleet set off on the final 520 mile push from Roscoff to Dieppe, via Wolfe Rock and the Needles Fairway.
Conditions for the Leg 4 start were light and overcast. Nick Cherry (Magma Structures) and current Rookie division leader Jack Bouttell (Artemis 77) both crossed the fleet and the start line on a port tack, putting them in a solid position into the first course mark.
The fleet were led offshore by three times Solitaire winner Michel Desjoyeaux (TBS), who currently sits just over a minute behind Sam Goodchild on the overall race leaderboard.
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Cherry was the first British skipper to round the buoy in 12th, followed by second Rookie Ed Hill (Artemis 37), who is reported to have been “on fire” around the initial 1.5 mile windward leeward course, rounding the first mark in 17th, then setting his spinnaker and rolling Leg 2 winner Morgan Lagraviere to lead the British boats offshore in 11th position.
Hoping to cement his provisional title as highest ranking British Solitaire du Figaro skipper since the race went one-design in 1991, Sam Goodchild rounded the first mark in 21st, followed by Bouttell in 24th and Henry Bomby (RockFish) in 32nd.
Shaking off the 2013 Solitaire norm, the final leg of the four-stage race is set to be a windy one, with 30 knots of wind and 40 knots gusting forecast for the ‘last blast’ under spinnaker along the south coast of England, stealing the title away from Leg 3 as the ‘toughest leg yet’.
For Academy Rookies Bouttell and Hill, the final leg of the 1,938 mile race sees both sailors gunning for the Rookie win, Bouttell overall and Hill for the leg win, with Leg 4 offering a last chance to prove himself against the Figaro young guns:
Positions at 08:00 hrs 21 June
1. Morgan Lagraviere
2. Yann Elies + 0.2 nm
3. Yoann Richomme + 0.3 nm
4. Adrien Hardy + 0.4 nm
13. Sam Goodchild + 1.1 nm
19. Edmund Hill + 1.9 nm
20. Nick Cherry + 2.6 nm
21. Jackson Boutell + 3.0 nm
The nail biting final leg of the 1,938 mile race is expected to conclude late on Saturday 22 June or early morning on Sunday 23 June.
Tune in to BBC Radio Solent at 18:00 hrs on Friday 21 June to hear local Solent sailors Bouttell, Cherry and Hill live from the race in conversation with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on the H20 show.
21 June 2013 8:00 GMT