Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

A 140 Mile Match Race for the 2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Title?

12th September 2023
Race leader overall Basile Bourgnon rising to the challenge on Stage 3 of the 2023 La Solitaire du Figaro
Race leader overall Basile Bourgnon rising to the challenge on Stage 3 of the 2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Credit: Alexis Courcoux

Benoît Tuduri of CAPSO en Cavale has made a formidable comeback on the third and final stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec. Tuduri was denied the Stage 1 win due to a rookie rules transgression but has now made a late bid for glory, threatening long-time stage leader Elodie Bonafous of Quéguiner-La Vie en Rose. Tuduri and Jules Delpech of ORCOM were coming in with speed, having worked an inshore, easterly route down the Vendée coast past La Rochelle. Both were looking like they might get a share of the time bonuses for passing the Intermediate Sprint line buoy. 

The fleet of 31 boats has been making solid progress under spinnaker today, allowing the exhausted solo skippers to grab some short catnaps to recharge their batteries. Despite this, the main peloton led by Bonafous remains very tightly packed, with less than five miles between the top ten and two miles separating the top five. 

Basile Bourgnon of EDENRED still holds the advantage in the battle for overall top honours, but Tuduri's late surge has made the final leg worth watching. Bourgnon won Stage 2 and is directly in front of Corentin Horeau of Banque Populaire and Lois Berrehar of Skipper MACIF 2022 respectively. His main goal now will be to monitor Horeau's every move and cover him as much as possible on what should be a one-upwind leg 140 miles back to Piriac-sur-Mer on the French Loire Atlantique coast just west of La Baule. 

Irish sailor Tom Dolan of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan is also in a good position, currently in ninth place, and has a chance to make some gains as they converge on the mark, only six miles off the coast between Arcachon and the entrance to the Gironde Estuary. 

As the race enters its final stages, the excitement is palpable, with Tuduri's comeback story adding a thrilling twist to the proceedings.

La Route du Rhum race Tracker

You may need to scroll vertically and horizontally within the box to view the full results

Published in Figaro, Tom Dolan Team

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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)

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating