Solitaire du Figaro preview

We look at the form and race favourite Michel Desjoyeaux tells us about his campaign for a fourth win
The moment has come - the 40th anniversary Solitaire du Figaro is due to set off tomorrow from Lorient. Backed by Suzuki and the Figaro newspaper and sailed as ever in the 32ft Marc Lombard-designed Beneteau Figaro 2s, the effective world championship of solo offshore racing is in four legs this year, taking the boats from Lorient first to La Coruna in northwest Spain, then back to the Beneteau homeport of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie in western France, then up to Dingle in southern Ireland before finishing in Dieppe on the north coast of France - amounting to 1706 miles in total. The organisers have cleverly arranged it so that each of the legs is longer than the last, culminating in the 511 mile hike up the south coast of the UK around the Needles Fairway buoy before crossing the Channel to Dieppe. Legs are typically two and a bit or four days duration and for the solo skippers this of course means next to no sleep, eating on the fly and otherwise constantly helming, trimming or making sail changes. Even navigating is carried out on deck these days. This year 52 competitors are entered, 15 of whom are first timers, showing that there remains as healthy an influx into the class as there ever has been. Favourite for the race is certainly Michel Desjoyeaux, the most successful offshore racer of all time, being the only person to have won the Vendee Globe twice, as well as the Transat and the Route du Rhum back in his ORMA 60 trimaran days. This is Desjoyeaux’s 11th participation in the race (and he is by no means the most capped, Eric Drouglazet is on his 17th, while the perennial Jean-Pierre Mouren will be racing his 23rd!). Over the 19 year association