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Corentin Horeau Wins 2023 Solitaire du Figaro Title

14th September 2023
Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire)  celebrates winning the 2023 Solitaire du Figaro Paprec title
Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire) celebrates winning the 2023 Solitaire du Figaro Paprec title Credit: Alexis Courcoux

Crossing the finish line of the third and final stage, a 470 miles leg from Roscoff, in sixth place at 03:44:27hrs (local time) this morning off Piriac-sur-Mer, Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire) is the overall winner of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec (subject to jury).

The 34-year-old from La Trinité sur Mer, racing his seventh La Solitaire du Figaro, passed his nearest title rival Basile Bourgnon (Edenred) on Wednesday afternoon on the downwind section to the southernmost turn of the course.

Horeau was then able to extend far enough ahead on the long beat back up the Vendée coast today to make good on the 8 mins 55 seconds deficit he was behind 22 year old Bourgnon when the final stage started Sunday. After all three stages, totalling eleven and a half days of racing, Horeau’s winning margin over Bourgnon is 10 mins 52 secs. Third overall is Lois Berrehar (Skipper MACIF 2022) 27 minutes and 11 seconds behind Horeau.

After finishing 15th into Kinsale at 20 minutes and 49 seconds after Stage 1 winner Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan), Horeau really laid the foundations of his overall triumph when he ghosted into Roscoff some 3 minutes and 24 seconds behind Basile Bourgnon, the stage winner. With Berrehar third another 27 mins and 06 secs behind him, the top trio immediately gained more than two hours on the next finisher when the wind died. As the tidal current built, big gaps were driven through the fleet, some top seeds losing 12-14 hours on the top three in a painfully slow finish which will go down in Solitaire du Figaro history,

Horeau finished second overall in 2014 when the pinnacle annual solo offshore race was still raced in the Figaro Beneteau 2. He took a five-year break from La Solitaire du Figaro between 2016 and 2021 to experience other classes and areas of the sport, notably a Trophée Jules Verne attempt with Spindrift, sailing on Sodeb’o Ultim with Thomas Coville, as well as racing the Tour Voile in the Diam 24.

Coming back into the Figaro Beneteau 3, he finished eighth and then 13th last year. After losing his sponsor in the middle of this season, he was snapped up by Banque Populaire, whose support added an extra level of confidence as well as the technical and logistical support of a program which last won the race in 2020 when Armel Le Cléac’h triumphed for the third time.

“With the support of Banque Populaire at the last minute that added a dose of confidence. They are the sponsors in sailing. I sailed to be consistent and take the minimum of risks, to stay with the fleet. That is not the way I normally sail but that is way you sail to win La Solitaire.” Said a delighted Horeau in the glare of the spotlights on the winner’s dock in the small hours of this morning in Piriac-sur-Mer.

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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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