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49 Skippers for the Solitaire du Figaro 2011

15th June 2011
49 Skippers for the Solitaire du Figaro 2011
A total of 49 skippers have confirmed their entries for the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro that calls to Dun Laoghaire in August, the only foreign port in the race. Unfortunately there will be no Irish skippers.  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:

PERROS GUIREC
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

 

Published in Figaro
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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.

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