Yes indeed. I was very much looking forward to this race, though as you say the start of Leg 1 was not all that exciting yesterday - light conditions as the fleet beat down the river to the Bay of Biscay. The list of competitors is a who's who of major talent, including Yann Elies and Michel Desjoyeux (currently in first and second place), Adrien Hardy, Armel Le Cléac'h (finished second in the Vendée Globe this year), Fredric Duthil, and on and on. This should be a really good event and, so far, it is living up to it - the bulk of the fleet remains clustered within 0-3 miles of each other, after almost 24 hours of racing, in mostly light, downwind conditions (after they got out of the Garonne / Girdonde rivers).
Yes the level is incredibly high. It would to be expected that major champions like Michel Desjoyeaux (two times Vendee winner) or Armel le Cleach that know is racing big multihulls would not be interested in putting is status on the open fighting on smaller series with young talents and true specialists, like Morvan. They don't care they want to prove they are good, in any kind of boat, not by past victories but for what they can do know. That's the spirit
I know that the level is incredible high because last year a Portuguese champion sailed the Figaro series. He came from the minis where we won several races including the big transat and on the Figaro he was just average, never managing to win a race. The best he could do was coming second on a leg. He leaded several legs but would end up to make some small mistake that pull him to 3th or 4th. Here you can see him on the day he managed 2th. He was beaten over the line by...François Gabart, the winner of the last Vendee globe.
They are almost all professionals and any small mistake and it would be impossible to recover) as the boat is extraordinarily technical to sail and very small variations in sail trim are very important.
Back to the race, it seems that Armel is trying a different tactical approach, nearer the coast as opposed to Nicol a guy that likes to sail in higher winds and are going to look for them.
Le Figaro - La Solitaire