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NI Solo Sailor Andrew Baker to Race #SeaChange in Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro

15th June 2016
Andrew Baker from Strangford Lough Andrew Baker from Strangford Lough

Northern Ireland solo sailor Andrew Baker has announced his support of UKSA’s youth development campaign ‘#SeaChange’ during the 2016 Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro.

#SeaChange provides life-changing opportunities to schools and groups, disadvantaged and disaffected young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and young offenders. A common theme for many of these individuals is the low expectation they have of themselves and #SeaChange challenges them to transform and to create opportunities for themselves.

By naming Baker’s blue and white Figaro #SeaChange ahead of the 1525nm race between Deauville, Cowes, Paimpol and La Rochelle, the sailor hopes to raise awareness of the initiative among sailing fans, the media and public across the United Kingdom. For UKSA, Baker is the perfect ambassador to inspire support.

“I’m proud to be supporting the #SeaChange campaign during the Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro and hope through my connection with UKSA and participation in this epic race I am able inspire young people to get into sailing,” he said.

Out sailing with his Dad as soon as he could walk, Baker recognises the importance of getting children into sailing at a young age and the life skills a career on the water can provide.

“#Seachange is a cause I can really relate to,” Baker continued. “I’ve been sailing since a very young age and I have learned so much from the sport. It teaches you about independence, hard work, motivation, determination, camaraderie, the environment and so much more. Being out on the water is such an invaluable experience and I fully support UKSA in their mission.”

The official charity of this year’s UK Solitaire stopover in Cowes, UKSA will be present in the Race Village between 22nd and 26th June offering try sailing, a sailing simulator, interactive game and fund raising.

Ben Willows, Chief Executive of UKSA, is proud to lend the name to Baker’s Figaro for the race, and looks forward to welcoming the sailor to Cowes in a week’s time.

“It is fantastic that Andrew has re branded his boat #SeaChange,” he said. “We are really proud to be a part of La Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro’s UK stopover and to share our #SeaChange message."

“Our ground breaking youth development programmes use water based activities to provide students with both the qualifications and skills to develop themselves. We see first-hand how confidence is developed, as young people are motivated by the prospect of a brighter future; re-engaging with education, further training or a successful transition into to employment.”

Published in Figaro

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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 celebrates 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.

The race has previously called to Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

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 will have two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who join the rookie ranks and keep the Irish tricolour flying high in France. 

The 2019 course is more Than 2,000 miles between Nantes, Kinsale (Ireland), Roscoff and Dieppe and is the longest in the race's history.

 

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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