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Displaying items by tag: La Solitaire du Figaro

Thirty hours into racing on the first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro, 320-miles from Perros-Guirec in Northern Brittany to Caen,  lower Normandy, and the leaders are positioned just 5 miles from Fairways, off the Needles, on the western tip of the Isle of Wight fighting against the tidal current. 

The race stops in Dun Laoghaire Ireland from August 12th, the only foreig stop over of the circuit.

Thomas Rouxel (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance), moves into the lead ahead of his two closest rivals, Nicolas Lunven (Generali) and Jérémy Beyou (BPI), in what has been a cat and mouse game for the pole position since yesterday's start.  Britain's Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence) punches his way up to 6th place overall and leads the rookies on their first Solitaire race.  What remains to be seen is if the light easterly thermal breeze will hold up for the sailors as they battle against the strong tidal current to get round the Fairways mark for the Southerly course back across the Channel to Caen.

The light conditions for Sunday morning's start gave way to moderate southerly breeze to allow the 47 competitors a Channel crossing towards Plymouth and the Hands Deep course mark under spinnaker in relatively good 7 to 8 knots pace.  The fleet then made the most of the favourable tide on the run along the South coast of England, where the sailors each chose how best to negotiate rounding the various headlands and associated current on course for the Fairways.  The wind gradually died out this afternoon just off Anvil point ,12 miles from the turning point, leaving the skippers the choice of either attempting to fight their way against the 3 knots of tidal current and dying breeze or dropping anchor to sit it out until the tide turns.

The leaders (Rouxel, Lunven, Beyou) on the direct heading are followed by a group made up of Eric Drouglazet (Luisina), Fred Duthil (Sepalumic), Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) and rookie sailor, Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence).  Further north, a breakaway group looking for the shelter of Poole Harbour and hoping for a thermal breeze to propel them round the Fairways and into the favourable current is made up of Laurent Pellecuer (Atelier d'architecture JP Monier), Frédéric Rivet (Vendée 1), Morgan Lagravière (Vendée), Charlie Dalin (Keopsys) and Jean-Pierre Nicols (Bernard Controls).  If their gamble does not pay off, they could pay with a costly time deficit on the leaders.  Others have opted for more southerly and offshore course in the hope that a veering wind could provide a good angle of approach to the mark, but for now Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat), Etienne Svilarich (Volkswagen Think Blue) and Alexis Loison (Port Chantereyne-Cherbourg-Octeville) can just hope as they see themselves fall back on the position reports.

The situation is not so clear for the sailors, led by Michel Bothuon (Les recycleurs bretons), who have not passed Anvil Point, where the tidal effects are strong.  Sam Goodchild (Artemis), Francisco Lobato (ROFF) and Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) caught up in this bunch can only hope that the leaders are forced to drop anchor to reduce the distance.

Phil Sharp (Spirit of Independence) from Jersey has made an astounding climb over the course of the last 24 hours, having started in the bottom half of the fleet, he is now well positioned 1.1 miles behind the leading trio in 6th place overall behind Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) and is currently heading the rookie rankings.  Phil has gradually progressed and moved his way up the fleet opting for a more offshore course just south of the rhumb line and is well placed to round the Fairways mark, just 5 miles away at 15:30.  Devon's Conrad Humphreys (DMS) stays within reach of the leaders at just 2.2 miles in 18th place.

British skipper, Sam Goodchild (Artemis), enjoyed a brilliant start in Perros Guirec on Sunday, to round the first course mark in 7th place, holding on the the race leaders throughout the day. This morning the Race Committee reported that Sam had torn his spinnaker, which would explain the loss of ground on the lead and his current  41st place and 9.4 mile deficit on the leaders.

Weather conditions have been better than anticipated since Sunday's start in Perros Guirec, allowing for the solo sailors to keep up a pace that could see them arriving into Caen from Tuesday afternoon.

Skipper's quotes over the VHF today:
Eric Drouglazet (Luisina):"We could well be anchored about ten miles from the Fairway buoy. I did not sleep all that much last night, so have not sailed all that badly. The leading boats are going to get round the next mark with the favourable current, but for those left behind it is only get to get worse and worse..."

Paul Meilhat (Macif 2011): "This is a beautiful leg with a lots of chances. And there will be more to come! It's a bit like having a fresh start, this passage from Portland Bill.We had light conditions and everyone came back from behind. I am very happy right now and everything is going well...I have good boat speed. I have been playing it bit by bit and think I'll try to continue with this strategy. I'm in shorts and a T-shirt: it's very nice after night in the drizzle. But there will be another difficult night. As soon as the thermal wind is going drops we are just going to come to a standstill..."

Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert): "It was not all that great at the start.  Then I managed to get back by sailing well up to Hand Deeps.  Overnight got in too close to shore.  It was not a good idea trying to go in close round Start Point.  Now, I have come back a pit on round Portland Bill further out.  For now we have 8 knots from the West, but it is is going to drop and it is going t be really very painful getting the turning tide at the Needles!"

Thomas Rouxel (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance): "There is a real battle going on with the three of us, Jérémy Beyou, Nicolas Lunven and myself.  All is going well but it is not over yet!  We are making slow progress with the wind we have, but from 14:00 onwards we should have the current against us to deal with too.  I think that it is going to be complicated and a whole lot of things could happen..."

Isabelle Joschke (Galettes Saint Michel): "For me, I see that there has been a turnaround. The first group was caught in the calm. A large group came back on this leader group. We are all under spinnaker, the wind is getting up in the bright sunshine and flat seas: it's very nice. The first night is always difficult to rest. I had a few naps and I ate well. It's hard to let go of the pressure because we are all in contact. I'll try to go take a nap now that the wind is established and before it once again becomes complicated. We will find ourselves facing the current to get passed the Isle of Wight. If we are forced to anchor, where I am, there a 30 metres of depth... It will not be very nice!"

Morgan Lagravière (Vendée):"I had a good first 24 hours and then about two hours ago mucked up the getting passed the transition area which needed special care and managed to loose quite a few places.  Not easy to decide on which position to take but I am feeling good in terms of keeping up the pace.   I  am annoyed with myself and so will have to work out my anger and climb my way back up the fleet."

Official opening of the Race Village in Caen at 17:00 local time
The official opening of the village of La Solitaire du Figaro Eric Bompard Cashmere in Caen will be held at 17:00 in the presence of Philippe Duron, Mayor of Caen and president of the Urban Community Caen la mer, Laurent Beauvais, President of the Region lower Normandy and Jean-Léonce Dupont, Chairman of the General Council of Calvados.

Published in Figaro
Seasoned Beneteau Solitaire du Figaro sailor Nigel King, from Lymington UK, is currently in Perros-Guirec, Northern Brittany, preparing for the Solitaire du Figaro, which starts this Sunday.

King who is no stranger to this annual, French 1,695-mile marathon, having competed in it twice before (2007 and 2009) has put a lot of work into this particular campaign in an effort to improve on his previous performances. Now, with support from his sponsors including title sponsor E-line Orthodontics, and the Artemis Offshore Academy, King says he is fairly happy with preparation for this race and is now looking forward to getting started.

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Chatting from the dockside this morning, King commented: "I am actually really excited about the prospects of this one, and thankfully less nervous than I was in 2009. I think because I'd had such a bad one in 2007, when I had to abandon the race, I had a lot of pressure to improve. Thankfully I had a decent result finishing 23rd, but I am now keen to improve on that."

King admits to having set himself a much harder target for this race, but because he has learnt such a lot over the last two years and knows what to expect from the race, he says he has more confidence in his own ability. "I now feel it is achievable and realistic to get a good result but to do so, I am going to have to sail the best I've ever sailed in a Figaro as there are some exceptionally talented sailors out there."

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One of King's most recent successes was finishing a creditable second place overall in the solo Transmanche Race aboard E-line Orthodontics where many of the top Figaro sailors were competing. Before heading to France for the Solitaire du Figaro, King completed the Transatlantic Race as skipper aboard Chris Bull's Cookson 50, Jazz, finishing first overall in IRC Class 2.

The Solitaire du Figaro however, is the key event in the Figaro circuit, which means the competition is always extremely high. Racing takes place in identical Figaro Bénéteau 2 class yachts to a strict, one-design rule to ensure the racing is fair as possible but because the four-leg race spans over a month (from 31 July- 28 August), and the course takes the fleet to and fro across the Channel, it is tactically extremely challenging.

Commenting on the start and the first 320-mile leg of the race from Perros-Guirec to Caen, northern France, King says it will be interesting: "The current weather situation shows light winds not only for the Prologue later today, but also for the start on Sunday. It seems like we won't get much more than 10-15kts which means the tidal effects will play a big role."

Although it hasn't been confirmed yet, the course of the first leg is likely to take the fleet from northern France to a waypoint at the Needles Fairway off the Isle of Wight. Having started at 1100 local time on Sunday, the estimated time of arrival at the Needles will be sometime on Tuesday, which means anyone in the vicinity should get a spectacular sight of the fleet. If the long-term weather forecast remains light, however, the fleet will be sent directly to Caen.

Follow Nigel King's progress aboard at nigelkingyachting.com, or follow the race at www.lasolitaire.com/EN

Published in Figaro

UK sailor Nigel King who recently finished a creditable second place overall in the Transmanche Race sailing his Figaro class yacht – E-line Orthodontics – is currently competing in the Transatlantic Race aboard Chris Bull's Cookson 50, Jazz writes Sue Pelling.

King's recent success in the highly competitive Figaro class, was just the sort of result he was looking for in the run up to the Solitaire du Figaro – the key event on the Figaro circuit – which starts in less than a month's time (29 July).

King will be sailing into Dun Laoghaire when the Figaro race stops here in August.

As a passionate, and particularly versatile sailor who manages to compete equally well solo or in a team, King's aim as skipper of Jazz in the Transatlantic Race is to ensure the yacht obtains the best possible result for owner Chris Bull, who had to pull out the race to attend his son's wedding.

Speaking from the dockside in Newport Rhode Island just before he started the Transatlantic Race earlier today King said: "Chris is a very active sailing owner, so for him not to be here for this race is a big thing. What is even more significant is the fact that he is allowing us to race his boat without him. We as a team all recognise we are pretty fortunate to have an owner who puts his trust in us entirely, so we really need to make sure we deliver on results, and getting the boat across the Atlantic safely."

King, who is skippering Jazz, will be working closely alongside Mike Broughton (navigator) and Christian Rippard (principal helmsman) during the 2,975-nautical mile race from Newport Rhode Island to Lizard Point, England. Other members of the team include Anthony (Ski) Haines (boat captain), and a selection of Australians who, according to King, are a great bunch of guys. "They are really hardworking and into their sailing and ultra competitive. They all work well together which means we have a really good team onboard."

The Transatlantic Race is a key event in the seven-race Atlantic Ocean Racing Series, which means to qualify for the series; at least three races must be completed including the Transatlantic Race. Having completed two races already this season – the RORC Caribbean 600, and the Annapolis to Newport Race – Team Jazz is looking forward to a respectable result in her third, qualifying race. Speaking realistically about what lies ahead, King said: "I am not a great believer in saying 'we are going out there to win'. If you go out there with nothing but a win as your goal, you focus so much on that you forget to sail properly. We've talked about how we want to perform and that is to sail to the highest level we can and hope that, if we make all the right choices and minimise our mistakes, the result will come."

King estimates a 14-day crossing depending on the conditions. According to the forecast the first few days could bring a light to moderate south-westerly breeze. King added: "There's a bit of a front coming through which is kind of messing the picture up a bit but we could have a few days of potentially 10-15kts, maybe slightly more spinnaker running as we go up the coast to Nova Scotia depending on whether we take a southern or northern route."

Once they cross the finish line at the Lizard, the team will have a 24-hour delivery trip back to Cowes for the prizegiving event at the Royal Yacht Squadron. For King however, it will be a case of jumping ship again, this time back onboard his Figaro – E-line Orthodontics – where he'll sail back to his home in Lymington before heading straight across the Channel to Perros-Guirec, France for the start of the Solitaire du Figaro.

Published in Figaro

Two Irish skippers are among the 71 'pre-entries', including 24 rookies, for the La Solitaire du Figaro race.

Paul O'Riain and Mick Liddy, both from Dublin, will race back into their home port on the only foreign leg of the race course when it calls her in this August.

An increasing number of non-French sailors and some big names in offshore racing, the Figaro, promises to deliver exceptional racing for the 42nd edition of the race over the 1,695 mile-course.

The return of past winners
Confident with last year's victory, including three out of four leg wins, Armel Le Cléac'h returns to defend his title once more. Following a very good 2010 season, the French skipper returns with the intent of equaling the record held by some of his predecessors, Philippe Poupon, Jean Le Cam and Michel Desjoyeaux, to make it a hat trick by winning the Figaro circuit's crowning event. "The Solitaire is an interesting race in sporting terms. To date, there are two of us who could make the hat trick in 2010, Nico (Troussel) and myself. If I am at the start this year, my goal is to do as well as in 2010! " Said Armel Le Cléac'h.

Three winners of previous editions will be at the start: Eric Drouglazet (winner in 2001), Jérémie Beyou (winner in 2005), and Nicolas Lunven (winner in 2009). There are many other contenders aiming for the top spot on the podium, including Gildas Morvan, Thierry Chabagny, Gérald Véniard, and Frédéric Duthil...Have registered their entry alongside so many other competition regulars.

Formidable competitors
The mainstays of the Figaro Bénéteau Class, which include other candidates for the podium, have also registered entry: Eric Péron, Thomas Rouxel, Laurent Pellecuer, Jeanne Grégoire, Erwan Tabarly,Romain Attanasio, Nicolas Berenger, Marc Emig... Jean-Paul Mouren returns to compete on a record 25th edition.

The young emerging talent will be forces to be reckoned with, Adrien Hardy, winner of the third leg last year, Fabien Delahaye 1st rookie 2009), Paul Meilhat, Anthony Marchand (1st rookie 2010), Yoann Richomme ... No matter how many miles sailed, they know that victory is gained only after crossing the finish line, and fully intend to apply the lessons learned in their previous editions.

Record: 24 rookies in the running
This year is also marked by an absolute record number of rookie entries; 24 pre-entries with some impressive CVs, who will present serious competition for the old hands at the event. Some of the best skippers in the Mini class, such as Xavier Macaire, Charlie Dalin, David Sineau and Luce Molinier will compete for the first time in La Solitaire du Figaro. Other very promising young skippers are also on the list, such as Alexis Littoz-Baritel, 2008 Match Racing French Champion, Morgan Lagravière with a background in Olympic 49er racing and Camille Square from the F18. Each will want to demonstrate their full potential along each of the 4 legs that lie ahead of them this Summer.

La Solitaire du Figaro attracts an increasing number of international competitor's. No less than 5 nationalities will be represented on the event this summer. From Ireland, Paul O'Riain and Mick Liddy will race at home on the only foreign leg of the race course (Dún Laoghaire near Dublin). There will be many English skippers this year: Conrad Humphreys, accustomed to racing on the most prestigious ocean races, will be participating in his first Solitaire du Figaro. Nigel King is back for the third time. One rookie will be selected among the 5 from the Grande Motte Mediterranean Training Centre: Nick Cherry, Sam Goodchild, Nick Houchin, Olivier Young, Simon Hiscocks, double World Champion 49er, and Phil Sharp, who won the Route du Rhum 2006 in Class 40, to step forward to compete on the Figaro. The Portuguese solo sailor, Francisco Lobato, and the Franco-German Isabelle Joschke also return to race.

"There will be fierce competition..."
Race director Jacques Caraës considers that, "There will be fierce competition... on this 42nd edition of La Solitaire du Figaro. Eric Bompard Cashmere, the new main partner, could not hope for a more impressive line-up of skippers: four former winners of the event will be competing, two dozen contenders for podium places, 24 rookies, a sign of prosperity in this great classic of the summer season, especially with strong participation of foreign entries. Five nations will be represented, including the particularly competitive British-American. They will certainly have to reckon with the talented Portuguese Francisco Lobato, strengthened with the experience gained last season. There will be fierce competition...."

At six months from the start, given the upcoming programme and potential of the candidates, the pressure is already starting to mount. As every year, the competition looks particularly intense, and the entertainment captivating - a memorable experience for competitors as well as for those who will follow this 42nd edition closely.

2011 Race

PERROS GUIREC
Village opens: Saturday 23rd July
Eric Bompard prologue: Friday 29th July
Start of the 1st leg: Sunday 31st July

CAEN (320 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Tuesday 2nd August
Start of the 2nd leg: Sunday 7th August

DÚN LAOGHAIRE (470 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 10th August
Start of the 3rd leg: Sunday 14th August

LES SABLES D'OLONNE (475 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 17th August
Start of the 4th leg: Sunday 21st August

DIEPPE (430 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 24th August
Closing regatta: Sunday 28th August

www.lasolitaire.com

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Published in Figaro
In a major coup for Dun Laoghaire and for the National Yacht Club, a top French fixture involving 50 single-handed yachts will visit the east coast port next Summer. Dun Laoghaire will be the only stop-over outside France for next year's prestigious La Solitaire du Figaro race.

The race is regarded as one of the world's solo sailing great events and one of the toughest on the international sailing calendar. Although the race has strong connections with Ireland, this is the first time the 42-year-old fixture will visit the island's largest sailing centre.

The fleet will moor in Dun Laoghaire harbour at the finish of the second leg, and will be hosted by the National Yacht Club. Competitors are expected to stay for a week. This year the race visited Kinsale, and in the past has also visited the Irish ports of Crosshaven, Howth and Dingle.

La Solitaire is going back to its roots. Perros-Guirec and Brittany from where the race will start on Sunday, 31st July 2011, are the most faithful of all host ports in the history of the race as Perros-Guirec has hosted a record number, this being the 16th time that the town will welcome the race.

The second French stop-over in 2011 will be Caen, where the race will go back for the third time. The harbour and the village are ideally situated in the city centre and will surely gather thousands of visitors during the week-long stay, with a full schedule of social events organised by the local municipality.

Dieppe will host the finish and close of La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 race. The Haute-Normandie region town expects to see the finish on or around August 24th.

The National Yacht Club is delighted to welcome this prestigious event and will communicate further developments in the very near future.

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

Details for next year's course of the La Solitaire du Figaro race were revealed at the Paris Boat Show yesterday. The race will comprise four French towns and Dun Laoghaire will be the only foreign port of call when the boats are expected to arrive on 10 August.

In spite of Dublin airport weather delays a National YC contingent headed by Commodore Peter Ryan made it to Paris in time for the announcement.

The single-handed sailors will face a 1,695 nautical mile race in a traditional format with four legs with a decidedly northern course, set between the 46th and 53rd parallels. The Breton town of Perros-Guirec will be host to the festivities on 23 July and up to the first race leg to Caen, some 320 nautical miles, on 31 July. The course will not follow a direct route as the competitors will follow the British coastline before sailing down into the Bay of Seine.

Following several days for rest, the fleet shall once again set sail on 7 August for the second leg, of 470 nautical miles, that will take the Figaro Bénéteau 2 towards Dún Laoghaire. After leaving the Bay of Seine, a 40-mile or so run, the first obstacle will be the passage of the Barfleur point. The course remains inshore, as the single-handed sailors will sail along the Cotentin to the cape of the Hague, before heading towards the Channel Islands.

It will be compulsory to leave the islands of Aurigny, Herm and Guernsey to starboard. The skippers will then take on a long crossing of the English Channel, 120 nautical miles to Land's End. The last third of the course is a sail up almost full north over 190 nautical miles to reach Dún Laoghaire.

The Dublin Bay harbour is set to be a discovery for the visiting sailors and where the National Yacht Club are to be the host venue. After a few days rest and recuperation, the fleet then will set sail on 14 August to The Vendée and Les Sables d'Olonne. This third leg is long at 475 nautical miles with boats expected on 17 August.

Four days later and the final leg departs on 21 August with the boats setting a course for Dieppe, to arrive on 24 August. On the following day the Normandy port will also be hosting a closing regatta. For more information www.lasolitaire.com

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

One of Dun Laoghaire's major international events next season, the visit of the French single-handed fleet, La Solitaire du Figaro, in August, will have a public festival running alongside say the National YC organisers. Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council are behind the festival.

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

In a major announcement for Dun Laoghaire sailing a top French fixture involving 50 single handed yachts will visit the east coast port next Summer. Dun Laoghaire will be the only stop over outside France for next year's  prestigious La Solitaire du Figaro race.

The race is regarded as one of the world's solo sailing great events and one of the toughest on the international sailing calendar. 

Although  having strong connections with Ireland this is the first time the 42 year old fixture will visit Ireland's largest sailing centre.

The fleet will moor in Dun Laoghaire harbour at the finish of the second leg and hosted by the National Yacht Club. They are expected to stay for a week.

This year the race visited Kinsale and in the past has also visited the Irish ports of Crosshaven, Howth and Dingle.

One month since the finish of the Solitaire du Figaro 2010, event organisers are already looking ahead, to 2011. The 42nd edition announces a new route: four legs, four French ports and one foreign stopover. The full details will be unveiled at the Paris Boat Show, on Friday December 3rd.

La Solitaire is going back to its roots. Perros-Guirec and Brittany from where the race will start on Sunday, 31st July 2011, are the most faithful of all host ports in the history of the race as Perros-Guirec has the record number of participations, this being the 16th time that the town will welcome the race. The last time was in 2005 and there is no doubt that Perros-Guirec will do its absolute best for this comeback.

The second French stopover in 2011 will be Caen, where the race will go back for the third time. The harbour and the village are ideally situated in the city centre and will surely gather thousands of visitors during the week long stay, with a full schedule of social events organised by the local municipality.

The third French rendez-vous is les Sables d'Olonne, which requires little introduction. In 2007, the port in the Vendée region celebrated the victory of Michel Desjoyeaux and since then the local authorities and the town live in very close ties to yachting, always ready to welcome sailors of all sorts, and namely from the Vendée Globe race... undoubtedly the people from Les Sables will show a very warm welcome to the skippers competing on the 42nd edition of La Solitaire next summer, as they have already done on six occasions on previous occasions as a host port for a race start or finish.

Dieppe will host the finish and close of La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 race. The Haute-Normandie region town expects to see the finish on a around August 24th. The town first hosted the race in 2009, regarded as a great success and one that the organisers wish to repeat by returning of for the finish.  Locals in Dieppe will welcome the fleet over the final miles and will put on a whole host of celebrations through to Sunday 28th of August for the traditional final parade sail.

Just one stop over outside of France is planned and this is to be held in Ireland.  La Solitaire will go to Dún Laoghaire for the first time, just ten minutes from the bustling town centre of Dublin at the finish of the second leg. The second stage promises to be a nice discovery for the Figaro sailors who will appreciate the charming Bay of Dublin and National Yacht Club's members warm welcome.

Perros-Guirec, Caen, Dún Laoghaire, Les Sables d'Olonne and Dieppe: five cities for a 42nd edition marked by many novelties. Sailing across the Channel, the Atlantic ocean, the Irish sea and the Celtic sea, the Solitaire du Figaro 2011 guarantees to be one of the season's greatest sports events.

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

Armel Le Cléac'h crossed the finish line of Leg 4 of La Solitaire du Figaro to Cherbourg. It took to Brit Air's 54 hours, 30 minutes and 24 seconds to cover the 435 miles of the last lap at an average speed of 7.98 knots. This summer le Cleac'h proved to be the man of all records. At 33 years of age he conquers this 41st edition after having heavily dominated the race with 3 leg wins and enters the very selected club of double winners, thanks to his first victory back in 2003. François Gabart (Skipper Macif 2010) jumps on the second step of the podium after a very consistent race and Corentin Douguet (E.Leclerc Mobile) gets an unexpected, but still well deserved, bronze medal.

Armel the master - From Le Havre to Cherbourg, sailing to Gijón, Brest and Kinsale, Le Cleac'h showed exceptional speed and focus, he was clearly in harmony with himself an his boat, in control of his strategy. This was his karma and his Solitaire, probably more than it was in 2003, when he first won with and historical lead of only 13 seconds on Alain Gautier. If it weren't for a minor mistake on the third leg to Kinsale he could have easily got a clear score. He "only" achieved three, which is already an outstanding performance. At his young age the skipper from Morlaix has already five leg wins and two overall victories in his cv, and he only raced his first Solitaire in 2000. He officially enters in the very selected group of skippers who won the race twice along with his longtime friend Nicolas Troussel and famous sailors such as Jean-Marie Vidal, Gilles Gahinet, Guy Cornou and Gilles Le Baud from the seventies and eighties. Called "Mémel" by his friends and "the Jackal" by his adversaries he's become by all mean one of the single handed offshore sailing celebrities, with his second place in the last Vendée Globe and two wins in the Transat AG2R, as confirmed by today's brilliant performance. By finishing in third place François Gabart obtained a second place overall.

Only 27 years old, he already took part three times to the Solitaire but this year confirmed to be come of age and a determination as strong as his older colleagues'. With his pale blue eyes and crop of blond hair, his good humour and excellent communication skills he will surely remains as one of the leading characters of the 2010 Solitaire du Figaro.Corentin Douguet's performance is no less impressive, by believing in his chances to be among the best ones, sailing cleanly and thanks to a clever race strategy he built his success. In the last and decisive leg he never left Le Cleac'h tracks and succeeded in getting in second in Cherbourg and third overall.

As for the non French skippers, Italian Pietro D'Alì on I.NOVA.3 finally took his revenge for a pretty unlucky and disappointing 2010 Solitaire. While on the previous legs he never had the chance to show his full potential, over the 435 miles from Kinsale to Cherbourg, Pietrino as his friends call him, was constantly in the leading pack and crossed the line in sixth. A result that not only pays him back from a rather unsatisfying race but allows him to go up in the scoreboard, finishing in 24th.

Young newcomer Portoguese Francisco Lobato is surely someone to keep an eye on for the future. Solid, technically very talented but mostly very determined, he paid dearly a first disastrous leg and a lack of experience. After having been among the leaders for two thirds of the last leg he lost ground and finished in 25th and 36th overall. Franco/German Isabelle Joschke got a 36th in the leg and a 31st overall while Briton Jonny Malbon was last into Cherbourg and 39th overall after, he too, suffered form a very unlucky second leg when his autopilot failed and he had to steer constantly for more than two days to reach Brest.

Quotes form the winners:

Armel Le Cléac'h (Brit Air) winner of La Solitaire 2010"I'm really proud. I can't believe it, I won three legs a sixth place in Ireland...Winning the Figaro like this it's pure joy. I came to take my revenge for last year's bad performance, I wanted to sail well on all the four legs. I was into the match and I somehow knew I could make it. I feel I have learnt something on how to control the race, to be in the lead. It's hard when you have 44 adversaries behind you, and all good ones! I managed to get in the lead, stay there and win, on all the legs bar one. Cool! I felt terrific onboard, the boat, the strategy all came easier than I thought. I enjoyed every moment, even here at the raz Blanchard, Corentin (Douguet ed. note) was not far but I wanted to get to the end and win this Figaro. Just one year ago things were quite different, I think I've grown up... I trained well and my shore team did a fantastic job. It's been a long time since I won an important race, this year it's been the Transat AG2R and the Solitaire. I will probably be feeling the exhaustion soon. I'm exhilarated by many things, I've been thinking a lot before the finish. My victory in 2003, the work done during winter, the sailing in bad weather, when its' cold. But you have to be well trained and ready... I need to make a break now, I've pushed hard and we had a bit of every condition: strong breeze, light air and it's tiring, haven't slept much...

François Gabart (Skipper Macif 2010), second placed"I'm a different man""I'm really proud and happy to be second behind Armel because he made an incredible race. He is a notch above everyone, untouchable, I would say. He's really strong and this year he was so self confident. I've made progress in every sector, speed wise, in the way I control the race and sail the boat. It's a nice feeling. I consider myself a better sailor than last year, I'm a different man and I reckon that if we made another leg I would be in it... I could make ten more and I would enjoy all of them." There were different conditions and I like it that way. For me being second is like winning, really. When you sail solo you need to be good at everything, you get better step-by-step, onboard and ashore. It's life, you grow up. I discovered more about myself: my desire to be in the lead, to win, to learn. I've been building this second place over the last four weeks. My aim was to have at least one good leg this year but, after going on the podium I told to myself, why not the overall? But until this morning I wasn't sure of anything..."

Corentin Douguet (E.Leclerc Mobile) Third placed"What an astonishing leg ! Being second behind Armel this year feels like being the first human. I'm super, super happy of my race, getting to Cherbourg and seeing my sons. Third overall, if anyone would have told me in Kinsale I would have laughed. I started to sail well in the last leg, coming in in the top ten, is terrific. I loved this Solitaire, I finished three legs in the top ten. I made some mistakes in the second one, but I have no regrets at all. Only once I thought I could catch up Armel, after Lizen Ven but I got stuck in the seaweeds and the wind shifted... I called Armel on the VHF shortly before the finish to congratulate him. His performance is simply incredible, pity he missed one or he would have done the big slam winning all four legs. This is my fifth Solitaire so I met five winners but Armel's victory is the most impressive of all. I'm proud to be in the very selected club of those who beat him this year in Kinsale. Bravo to François (Gabart ) too, he did a fantastic race. As for me after a very good performance in 2007 (a leg win in La Coruna and third overall ed. note) had two opaque seasons. But Douguet is not dead! Beside the results, second in the leg and third overall, I really, really enjoyed this race..."

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
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Under a grey sky the 44 skippers taking part in La Solitaire du Figaro, left Kinsale for the fourth and decisive leg. Tension was high and the Committee was forced to give two general recalls. Swiss Bernard Stamm (Cheminée Poujoulat) and French Matthieu Girolet (Entreprendre) were involved in a collision and suffered from serious damages to their boats. Both decided to abandon racing.

Excellent start for young Portuguese Francisco Lobato and Italian Pietro D'Alì. Weather conditions are expected to be fairly tough, for a fast 435 miles passage to the finish in Cherbourg. A lot is at stake, for the leaders as for each one of the competitors to the 2010 Solitaire and tension builds easily. That is especially the case at the start of the last and decisive leg. And today the 44 skippers were eager to leave Ireland, apparently. So much that the Race Committee was forced to hoist the general recall flag twice before getting a clear start. And, it was when tension ran so high that between the first and the second start that a violent collision occurred involving Swiss Bernard Stamm (Cheminée Poujoulat) and Matthieu Girolet (Entreprendre).

As boats suffered from serious damages to their hulls both skippers decided it was not safe to continue racing and abandoned the Solitaire. Stamm's Figaro had a conspicuous hole on the bow and despite all the other competitors' shore teams immediately started working on it in a solidarity effort, the damage was too extensive to be repaired in a reasonable amount of time. Girolet's breakage was equally evident, and he also reported to have some parts detached inside the boat and doubted also that the rigging was still efficient. Stamm will be given a DNF in the final ranking which means the last's time plus two hours.

Racing continued for the other 42 skippers, who, before heading offshore had to sail a windward/leeward course between the Seamobile and the Radio France Marks, with a good breeze of 10 to 12 knots. Racing was very close and intense and gaps reduced to a minumum. At the Radio France Mark, located near Bulman, it was Laurent Pellecuer (Arnolfini.fr <http://Arnolfini.fr/> ) to round in first, very closely followed by Jean Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) and by a brilliant Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO-TEAM) who showed very good speed under spinnaker.

It was then the turn of Jérémie Beyou (BPI) and Yann Eliès (Generali Europ Assistance). Behind them boats arrived grouped together, creating a pretty confused mass with more collisions and protest flags. The other non French sailors were Pietro D'Alì (I.NOVA.3) in 11th, Jonny Malbon (Artemis) in 15th and Isabelle Joschke (Synergie) in 27th. Competitors will now have to sail along the Irish coast to reach the famous Fastnet lighthouse that lied 45 miles away, leaving it to port side. The leaders should get there around midnight. According to the weather forecast by Météo France's expert Sylvain Mondon, after having rounded the Fastnet on their way to Lizen Ven, the fleet will encounter stiffer NW breezes topping 25 with gusts over 30 knots.

Quotes form the skippers:Bernard Stamm (Cheminée Poujoulat) "The accident was quite unfortunate. I heard on the VHF that the Committee was announcing a change of the pin end, I was trying to find a right spot to check and all of a sudden I saw Matthieu's transom. It was too late, there was nothing I could do to avoid the crash. I was sailing pretty fast, 6 or 7 knots, ballasts full and couldn't change my course. It all happened in seconds. It was a big, loud crash. It's a pity, I'm really sad and disappointed." Matthieu Girolet (Entreprendre)"I'm really sorry, it was my fault no doubt about it (he was sailing on port tack when the accident occurred ed. note). I couldn't see Bernard coming because I was paying attention to the many spectator's boats around, trying to avoid them and did not see Bernard coming. I should have because I was on starboard tack. I definitely can't start again, my boat is badly damaged, I guess it would be unsafe and uncosiderate. We fight and train all year long to be in the Solitaire and it is just sad, disappointing, to be finishing like this."

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Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
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