Friday, 17 June 2011
by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson
A total of 49 skippers have confirmed their entries for the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro. Making up the group of predominantly French sailors are six foreigners, four British, one Portuguese and one German, and of the 49 starters almost 20% of the fleet are in their first full season in the Figaro class taking on the challenge of arguably the toughest singlehanded race. The fleet will sail a 1700-mile course over four stages, starting in Perros-Guirec on the North Brittany coast on 23 July and visiting Caen, Normandy, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, Les Sables d’Olonne, Vendée, before finishing in Dieppe, Pas de Calais, on 28 August.
The growing international interest in the race, now in its 42nd year, keeps the event in the limelight. Race Director Jacques Caraës has carefully designed the course this year to keep the challenge of dealing with tides, currents and local effects woven in with long days and nights of racing. Once again experience, instinct and talent will reward the best when hard tactical decisions are called for.
“The quality and technical level of the skippers participating in the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro reflects more than ever the calibre of the race. For sure it will be an edition with much suspense, the true Ultimate Challenge!” Jacques Caraës said.
The top players
Three past winners of the Solitaire du Figaro will be racing in an attempt to join that elite club of skippers that have two overall victories to their name. Amongst them are Nicolas Lunven, who won the title in 2009 and is regularly at the top of the class leaderboard. He will be up against Jérémie Beyou, winner in 2005 and one of the top players in short-handed offshore sailing. Eric Drouglazet, the third participant to have won the race in the past, took the top podium spot in 2001 and has long been a central character on the Figaro circuit. Frédéric Duthil, Gildas Morvan and Thierry Chabagny have all earned podium finishes and will be doing their level best to finally get to the top step of the podium. And how could one forget the steel-willed Jean-Paul Mouren who will be competing in his 25th Solitaire du Figaro! But the winner may well come from another source.
“Those who aim for the podium are a few and are not there to try and get second best in the race. Winners or not, all will be doing their utmost to win” commented Jacques Caraës.
And from the UK…
Since 1970, 13 Britons have participated in Solitaire du Figaro. Nigel King is now the doyen of that group coming back for his third attempt. Amongst his compatriots are Conrad Humphreys of Vendée Globe fame, the very current Phil Sharp of mini transat success and the extremely talented Sam Goodchild, prodigy of the Artemis Academy.
“There has never been such a strong British presence at the Figaro before. I’m sure young Sam Goodchild and the more experienced Nigel King, Conrad Humphreys and Phil Sharp between them will lead the British attack on the French sailors” continued Caraës.
With all the necessary ingredients for a top-grade sports competition, the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro will be as interesting as ever with its emotion, suspense and action. A rendez-vous not to be missed, starting with the Prologue in Perros-Guirec on 29 July.
2011 Key Dates:
Village opens: Saturday 23rd July
Eric Bompard Prologue: Friday 29th July
Start of the 1st leg: Sunday 31st July
CAEN (320 miles)
ETA: Tuesday 2nd August
Start of the 2nd leg: Sunday 7th August
DÚN LAOGHAIRE (470 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 10th August
Start of the 3rd leg: Sunday 14th August
LES SABLES D’OLONNE (475 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 17th August
Start of the 4th leg: Sunday 21st August
DIEPPE (430 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 24th August
Postlog: Sunday 28th August
Solitaire du Figaro 2011