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La Solitaire du Figaro 2010: 41 years and 48 entries

10th June 2010
La Solitaire du Figaro 2010: 41 years and 48 entries

The 41st edition of La Solitaire du Figaro will no doubt be the most important solo sailing event of the summer, from 20th July to 22nd August. With 48 entries, including 8 rookies and 5 non-French entries, some of the finest sailors of the moment will meet for the classic summer race. The superb line-up and a racecourse covering 1,717 nautical miles, made up of a combination of short sprint legs and long marathon runs should guarantee some great competition.

This year there are 48 entries, including 8 are rookies and non-French sailors, proving yet again that La Solitaire is as popular as ever. Le Havre will host the race for the very first time, followed by stopovers in Gijón, Brest, Kinsale and finally Cherbourg-Octeville. A course with many traps punctuated with a number of tricky passages, notably the Raz Blanchard, the Raz de Sein and the Bay of Biscay, which can prove to be difficult at this time of year. Tactics, audacity and steady progress will be essential in order to hope to win.

Race director Jacques Caraës says: “What a fine show of skippers for the 41st edition of La Solitaire! In spite of the current circumstances, 48 competitors will be taking part, and great skippers they are! It is very satisfying. Five previous winners and potentially fifteen sailors with real chances of winning the title are going to be there. I am very happy about seeing some of the “oldies” coming to the class, it is very important for a competition to still attract so many renowned sailors. The younger ones this year are ambitious and well prepared following relentless training in their respective centers. They will have to be reckoned with, and let’s not forget the rookies, eager to compete and the amateurs still providing some great stories for La Solitaire.”


Five previous winners!

They are very determined to win a second title and enter into the tightly closed circle of multiple winners of La Solitaire: Michel Desjoyeaux, Philippe Poupon and Jean Le Cam with 3 victories, Guy Cornou, Jean-Marie Vidal, Gilles Gahinet, Nicolas Troussel and Gilles Le Baud and their 2 wins. Kito de Pavant is making his great comeback after a three-year absence during his Imoca season. He will have serious competition in the 2009 winner Nicolas Lunven, Armel Le Cléac’h, Eric Drouglazet, and Jérémie Beyou, who won two legs last year.

Set on finally reaching the top step of the podium, Yann Eliès, Frédéric Duthil, Thierry Chabagny, Gildas Morvan and Erwan Tabarly will no doubt be in the front lines.

Noticeable comebacks…

Sébastien Josse returns to La Solitaire after two Vendée Globes and a Volvo Ocean Race, following a seven-year break sailing the oceans - a very good omen to start on the Figaro again. Karine Fauconnier’s participation is also a nice surprise. The Baden skipper last took part in La Solitaire in 2000, and this summer she will be once more be at the start line with thousand of miles of sailing experience under her belt.

Eclectic rookies

Not quite so numerous as in preceding years, with 8 competitors, the rookie line-up is set to be of a high standard.  From Mini 6.50 to Imoca, each one of the rookies has excelled in his or her field.  Swiss-man Bernard Stamm, the Portuguese Francisco Lobato, winner of the Transat 6.50, and Damien Guillou, with several Olympic campaigns to his credit. Also to be watched are Anthony Marchand, Yoann Richomme and Damien Cloarec, newcomers all looking for success.  The novices to La Solitaire will be lining up against the veterans of the Figaro circuit, headed by Jean-Paul Mouren who is on his 23rd participation!

The rising figures!

To be watched very closely, Fabien Delahaye, 1st rookie in 2009, Adrien Hardy, winner of the Solidaire du Chocolat 2009, François Gabart, Thomas Rouxel, Paul Meilhat, Alexis Loison, Ronan Treussart and Eric Peron who over the years have been making remarkable progress.

From all walks of life…

5 foreign sailors will be participating in La Solitaire this summer: Jonny Malbon (GBR), Pietro D’Ali (ITA), Isabelle Joschke (GER), Francisco Lobato (POR) and Bernard Stamm (SUI). As for the French sailors, most skippers are from Brittany, 29 in 2010, 6 from southern France, 4 from the Atlantic coast, 3 from Normandy and 1 from Paris.

Le Havre, Gijón in Spain, Brest, Kinsale in Ireland and Cherbourg-Octeville, four legs to make up the 41st edition of La Solitaire du Figaro. 48 competitors, all highly determined to get a coveted spot in the top ten.  It will be a thrilling competition. Tactics and perseverance will undoubtedly mark the difference, and whatever happens, as each year, there will be strong emotions, and sometimes disappointments… The event starts with the Suzuki Prologue on 25th July in Le Havre, gathering the prestigious sailors for the classic summer race.

Reminder of the key dates:


Village opens: Tuesday 20th July

Suzuki Prologue: Sunday 25th July

Start of the 1st leg: Tuesday 27th July

- GIJON (515 miles)

Expected arrival of the boats: Friday 30th July

Start of the 2nd leg: Tuesday 3rd August

- BREST (418 miles)

Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 5th August

Start of the 3rd leg: Monday 9th August

- KINSALE (349 miles)

Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 11th August

Start of the 4th leg: Monday 16th August


Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 19th August

Closing Parade: Sunday 22nd August

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here

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Ireland & La Solitaire du Figaro

The Solitaire du Figaro, was originally called the course de l’Aurore until 1980, was created in 1970 by Jean-Louis Guillemard and Jean-Michel Barrault.

Half a decade later, the race has created some of France's top offshore sailors, and it celebrated its 50th anniversary with a new boat equipped with foils and almost 50 skippers Including novices, aficionados and six former winners.

The solo multi-stage offshore sailing race is one of the most cherished races in French sailing and one that has had Irish interest stretching back over 20 years due to the number of Irish stopovers, usually the only foreign leg of the French race.

What Irish ports have hosted The Solitaire du Figaro?

The race has previously called to Ireland to the following ports; Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

What Irish sailors have raced The Solitaire du Figaro?

So far there have been seven Irish skippers to participate in La Solitaire du Figaro. 

In 1997, County Kerry's Damian Foxall first tackled the Figaro from Ireland. His win in the Rookie division in DHL gave him the budget to compete again the following year with Barlo Plastics where he won the final leg of the race from Gijon to Concarneau. That same year a second Irish sailor Marcus Hutchinson sailing Bergamotte completed the course in 26th place and third Rookie.

In 2000, Hutchinson of Howth Yacht Club completed the course again with IMPACT, again finishing in the twenties.

In 2006, Paul O’Riain became the third Irish skipper to complete the course.

In 2013, Royal Cork's David Kenefick raised the bar by becoming a top rookie sailor in the race. 

In 2018, for the first time, Ireland had two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who joined the rookie ranks and kept the Irish tricolour flying high in France. Mulloy became the first Irish female to take on the race.

Tom Dolan in Smurfit Kappa competed for his third year in 2020 after a 25th place finish in 2019. Dolan sailed a remarkably consistent series in 2020 and took fifth overall, the best finish by a non-French skipper since 1997 when Switzerland’s Dominique Wavre finished runner up. Dolan wins the VIVI Trophy.

Dolan finished 10th on the first stage, 11th on the second and seventh into Saint Nazaire at the end of the third stage. Stage four was abandoned due to lack of wind. 

Also in 2020, Dun Laoghaire’s Kenneth Rumball became the eleventh Irish sailor to sail the Figaro.

At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Course

Stage #1 Caen – Kinsale : 610 nautical miles
Departure August 27 (expected arrival August 30)

Stage #2 Kinsale – Baie de Morlaix : 630 nautical miles
Departure September 3 (expected arrival September 6)

Stage #3 Baie de Morlaix – Piriac-sur-Mer : 620 nautical miles
Departure September 10 (expected arrival September 13)

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