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Two Irish skippers are among the 71 'pre-entries', including 24 rookies, for the La Solitaire du Figaro race.

Paul O'Riain and Mick Liddy, both from Dublin, will race back into their home port on the only foreign leg of the race course when it calls her in this August.

An increasing number of non-French sailors and some big names in offshore racing, the Figaro, promises to deliver exceptional racing for the 42nd edition of the race over the 1,695 mile-course.

The return of past winners
Confident with last year's victory, including three out of four leg wins, Armel Le Cléac'h returns to defend his title once more. Following a very good 2010 season, the French skipper returns with the intent of equaling the record held by some of his predecessors, Philippe Poupon, Jean Le Cam and Michel Desjoyeaux, to make it a hat trick by winning the Figaro circuit's crowning event. "The Solitaire is an interesting race in sporting terms. To date, there are two of us who could make the hat trick in 2010, Nico (Troussel) and myself. If I am at the start this year, my goal is to do as well as in 2010! " Said Armel Le Cléac'h.

Three winners of previous editions will be at the start: Eric Drouglazet (winner in 2001), Jérémie Beyou (winner in 2005), and Nicolas Lunven (winner in 2009). There are many other contenders aiming for the top spot on the podium, including Gildas Morvan, Thierry Chabagny, Gérald Véniard, and Frédéric Duthil...Have registered their entry alongside so many other competition regulars.

Formidable competitors
The mainstays of the Figaro Bénéteau Class, which include other candidates for the podium, have also registered entry: Eric Péron, Thomas Rouxel, Laurent Pellecuer, Jeanne Grégoire, Erwan Tabarly,Romain Attanasio, Nicolas Berenger, Marc Emig... Jean-Paul Mouren returns to compete on a record 25th edition.

The young emerging talent will be forces to be reckoned with, Adrien Hardy, winner of the third leg last year, Fabien Delahaye 1st rookie 2009), Paul Meilhat, Anthony Marchand (1st rookie 2010), Yoann Richomme ... No matter how many miles sailed, they know that victory is gained only after crossing the finish line, and fully intend to apply the lessons learned in their previous editions.

Record: 24 rookies in the running
This year is also marked by an absolute record number of rookie entries; 24 pre-entries with some impressive CVs, who will present serious competition for the old hands at the event. Some of the best skippers in the Mini class, such as Xavier Macaire, Charlie Dalin, David Sineau and Luce Molinier will compete for the first time in La Solitaire du Figaro. Other very promising young skippers are also on the list, such as Alexis Littoz-Baritel, 2008 Match Racing French Champion, Morgan Lagravière with a background in Olympic 49er racing and Camille Square from the F18. Each will want to demonstrate their full potential along each of the 4 legs that lie ahead of them this Summer.

La Solitaire du Figaro attracts an increasing number of international competitor's. No less than 5 nationalities will be represented on the event this summer. From Ireland, Paul O'Riain and Mick Liddy will race at home on the only foreign leg of the race course (Dún Laoghaire near Dublin). There will be many English skippers this year: Conrad Humphreys, accustomed to racing on the most prestigious ocean races, will be participating in his first Solitaire du Figaro. Nigel King is back for the third time. One rookie will be selected among the 5 from the Grande Motte Mediterranean Training Centre: Nick Cherry, Sam Goodchild, Nick Houchin, Olivier Young, Simon Hiscocks, double World Champion 49er, and Phil Sharp, who won the Route du Rhum 2006 in Class 40, to step forward to compete on the Figaro. The Portuguese solo sailor, Francisco Lobato, and the Franco-German Isabelle Joschke also return to race.

"There will be fierce competition..."
Race director Jacques Caraës considers that, "There will be fierce competition... on this 42nd edition of La Solitaire du Figaro. Eric Bompard Cashmere, the new main partner, could not hope for a more impressive line-up of skippers: four former winners of the event will be competing, two dozen contenders for podium places, 24 rookies, a sign of prosperity in this great classic of the summer season, especially with strong participation of foreign entries. Five nations will be represented, including the particularly competitive British-American. They will certainly have to reckon with the talented Portuguese Francisco Lobato, strengthened with the experience gained last season. There will be fierce competition...."

At six months from the start, given the upcoming programme and potential of the candidates, the pressure is already starting to mount. As every year, the competition looks particularly intense, and the entertainment captivating - a memorable experience for competitors as well as for those who will follow this 42nd edition closely.

2011 Race

PERROS GUIREC
Village opens: Saturday 23rd July
Eric Bompard prologue: Friday 29th July
Start of the 1st leg: Sunday 31st July

CAEN (320 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Tuesday 2nd August
Start of the 2nd leg: Sunday 7th August

DÚN LAOGHAIRE (470 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 10th August
Start of the 3rd leg: Sunday 14th August

LES SABLES D'OLONNE (475 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 17th August
Start of the 4th leg: Sunday 21st August

DIEPPE (430 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 24th August
Closing regatta: Sunday 28th August

www.lasolitaire.com

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Published in Figaro
2nd June 2010

No Figaro for O'Riain

Irish sailor Paul O'Riain has announce that due to a lack of sponsorship, he is withdrawing his bid to enter the Figaro single-handed offshore race this year.

"It is with regret that I have had to withdraw my entry from La Solitaire du Figaro 2010.  While I have received a lot of encouragement and support about my plans for this year and beyond, I have not managed to put in place enough of a budget.  Therefore I will not be on the start line of this prestigious solo race this year, which will visit beautiful Kinsale (the most visited port in the history of the event) in August."

"Thank you to all who have shown support for my plans and to the sponsors who were willing to commit at this stage.  It has been very encouraging and gratifying in the current economic environment and great to see that sponsors are willing to invest to promote their businesses and are thinking long term.  I think I need to try harder to ensure I will be on the start line next year and am going to continue on."

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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