49 skippers have confirmed their entries for the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro. Making up the group of predominantly French sailors are six foreigners, four British, one Portuguese and one German, and of the 49 starters almost 20% of the fleet are ‘bizuths’, in their first full season in the Figaro class. The fleet will sail a 1700-mile course in four legs, starting in Perros-Guirec on the North Brittany coast on 23 July and visiting Caen, Normandy, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, Les Sables d’Olonne, Vendée, before finishing in Dieppe, Pas de Calais, on 28 August.
The growing international interest in the race, now in its 42nd year, keeps the event in the limelight. Race Director Jacques Caraës has carefully designed the course this year to maintain the challenge of forcing skippers to deal with tides, currents and local effects over their long days and nights of racing. Once again experience, instinct and talent will reward the best.
“The quality and technical level of the skippers participating in the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro reflects more than ever the calibre of the race. For sure it will be an edition with much suspense, the true Ultimate Challenge!” Caraës says.
Three past winners of the Solitaire du Figaro will be racing in an attempt to join that elite club of skippers that have two overall victories to their name. They are Nicolas Lunven, winner in 2009 and regularly at the top of the class. He will be up against Jérémie Beyou, winner in 2005 and one of the top players in short-handed offshore sailing. Meanwhile Eric Drouglazet won in 2001 and has long been a central character on the Figaro circuit. They will be up against Frédéric Duthil, Gildas Morvan and Thierry Chabagny all of whome have had podium finish and will be doing their level best to finally get to the top step of the podium. And then there is the steel-willed Jean-Paul Mouren who will be competing in his 25th Solitaire du Figaro! But the winner may well come from elsewhere.
“Those who aim for the podium are a few and are not there to try and get second best in the race. Winners or not, all will be doing their utmost to win” commented Jacques Caraës.
Since 1970, 13 British skippers have participated in Solitaire du Figaro. Among them Nigel King returns for his third attempt, but alongside him will be former Vendee Globe skipper Conrad Humphreys, and ‘the chosen one’ from the Artemis Offshore Academy Sam Goodchild, and 2006 Route du Rhum Class 40 winner Phil Sharp.
“There has never been such a strong British presence at the Figaro before,” said Caraës. “I’m sure young Sam Goodchild and the more experienced Nigel King, Conrad Humphreys and Phil Sharp between them will lead the British attack on the French sailors.”
Full entry list http://www.lasolitaire.com/EN/skipper/
Village opens: Saturday 23rd July
Eric Bompard Prologue: Friday 29th July
Start of the 1st leg: Sunday 31st July
CAEN (320 miles)
ETA: Tuesday 2nd August
Start of the 2nd leg: Sunday 7th August
DÚN LAOGHAIRE (470 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 10th August
Start of the 3rd leg: Sunday 14th August
LES SABLES D’OLONNE (475 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 17th August
Start of the 4th leg: Sunday 21st August
DIEPPE (430 miles)
ETA: Wednesday 24th August
Postlog: Sunday 28th August
words by The Daily Sail