#lasolitaire – Three winners, five Rookies and counting - 20 skippers registered so far for the 46th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire. The last two editions of the race have featured Cork entry David Kenefick but there is no Irish registration so far but potentially a Rookie entry from County Down. Andrew Baker, a member of the Artemis Offshore Academy, is in the running for a place on the start line, but first he has three practice races to earn his spot. The decision will be announced in May.
And in other exciting offshore sailing news for Ireland, a County Meath sailor has launched a Mini Transat solo sailing campaign for 2015.
With four months to the start of the 46th La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire, 20 intrepid Figaro skippers have signed up to the 2185 mile, month long solo offshore race.
Kicking off on the 31st May from Bordeaux (France), as many as 45 solo skippers and their 33ft Figaro Beneteau IIs are expected to race from the grand city of Bordeaux to Sanxenxo (Spain), Concarneau (France), Torbay (UK) and across the final finish line in Dieppe (France) in July.
This year's early entry list is already evidence of the Solitaire's universal appeal, with registered entrants ranging from race champions and Vendee Globe winners, to talented regulars chipping away at the top 10, rank outsiders and ambitious first timers.
Triple Solitaire du Figaro winner Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) (2005, 2011, 2014) returns to the race in 2015 not only to defend his title, but also with an aim to become the first skipper to have ever won the Solitaire four times.
Making their debut on the Class Figaro circuit in 2015, five ambitious Rookies have signed up for this epic solo marathon so far.
Also joining the fleet but not yet on the list, the Artemis Offshore Academy will contribute as many as three of its talented UK brood to the Rookie fleet. This year British Rookies Rob Bunce, Andrew Baker and Robin Elsey are out to earn themselves a place on the start line. This decision will be announced in May.
Skippers currently registered:
1. Marc Pouydebat/TBC/FRA/Rookie*
2. Yann Elies/ Groupe Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir)/FRA
3. Jeremie Beyou/Maitre Coq/FRA
4. Benjamin Dutreux/Team Vendee/FRA/Rookie*
5. Gildas Morvan/Cercle Vert/FRA
6. Corentin Horeau/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance/FRA
7. Sebastien Simon/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Espoir/FRA
8. Martin le Pape/ Ovimpex-Secours Populaire/FRA/Rookie*
9. Henry Bomby/TBC/GBR
10. Thierry Chabagny/Gedimat/FRA
11. Adrien Hardy/AGIR Environnement/FRA
12. Alain Gautier/Generali/FRA
13. Tolga Pamir/Un jour un home un arbre/TUR/Rookie*
14. Gwenole Gahinet/Safran Guy-Cotten/FRA
15. Claire Pruvot/Port de Caen-Ouistreham/FRA
16. Vincent Bairnes/Guyot Environnement/FRA
17. Benoit Mariette/TBC/FRA/Rookie*
18. Laurent Pellecuer/TBC/FRA
19. Isabelle Joschke/Generali-Horizon Mixite/FRA
20. Corentin Douguet/TBC/FRA