79 entered for la Soltaire

Massive influx of new talent plus Alain Gautier for this year's effective solo offshore racing world championship

Monday February 18th 2008, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
79 skippers including 25 first time competitors, six women and eight from outside France, have registered to take part in the Figaro's class' premier event, La Solitaire du Figaro in 2008. For this 39th running of the race, the competitors will follow in the original course of the event's predecessor, the Course de l’Aurore, starting from La Rochelle with three instead of four legs, but amounting to a new record distance of 1,880 nautical miles.

This year La Solitaire du Figaro will take place from 19 July to 17 August. While to date 79 competitors have registered for the race, the Notice of Race limits the maximum number of competitors to 55. Registration will be finalised on 31 May.

For this year's effective world championship of singlehanded one-design offshore racing, several notables are returning. After a few years absence, 1989 winner and winner of the second Vendee Globe, Alain Gautier returns to try his hand again. Eric Tabarl's nephew, Erwan is also back sailing with a new sponsor, while also entered are Ronan Guérin, Antoine Koch and Sébastien Audigane. Audigane has recently been sailing on Groupama 3 during her Trophée Jules Verne attempt.

Of course most of the perennial Figarists will be back. These include Jean-Paul Mouren, competing for the 22nd time, Gildas Morvan, Nicolas Troussel (winner in 2006), Eric Drouglazet (winner in 2001), Thierry Chabagny, Jeanne Grégoire, Nicolas Béranger and others.

Then there are the young blades such as Frédéric Duthil, Gildas Mahé, Thomas Rouxel, Nicolas Lunven (winner of the rookie class for Solitaire first timers in 2007), Christopher Pratt (rookie class winner in 2006) many of whom will be mixing it up with the more seasoned campaigners.

25 first timers competing indicates a new growth in the desire to compete in the Figaro class. Some have already proved themselves in other offshore classes including 2007 Mini TRansat favourites Isabelle Joschke and Adrien Hardy.

From the dinghy and windsurfing worlds come Thibaut Vauchel-Camus, the Champion de France in F18 catamarans in 2007 and Arthur Vaillant who finished third in the windsurfing World Championship in 2006.

As mentioned the international mix is also increasing with eight countries represented: Antonio-Pedro Da Cruz (Cape Verde Islands), Pietro D’Ali (Italy), Andy Greenwood (Great Britain), Isabelle Joschke (Franco-German), Nigel King (Great Britain), Juan Merediz (Spain), Paul O’Rian (Ireland), Liz Wardley (Papa New Guinea).

Race Director Jacques Caraës, explains: “With 79 entries, once again we will see a particularly talented selection of sailors set to compete in the 39th running of La Solitaire du Figaro. Not only do we have the experienced - notably the return of Alain Gautier, the 1989 winner - but also a number of rookies who have come in strength such as Adrien Hardy and Thibaut Vauchel-Camus, coming from different areas of dinghy sailing; the Mini circuit, Mumm 30s…”

Competitors this year set sail from La Rochelle on 25 July ultimately arriving in Ll’Aber Wrac’h after sailing in the English Channel, Bay of Biscay, the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish and Celtic Seas.

La Rochelle will host the Solitaire for the 8th time. The boats will moor in the Chalutiers basin in the old port.

Race Village opens: Saturday 19 July
Prologue Suzuki: Wednesday 23 July
Start of the first leg: Friday 25 July

The first stopover Vigo, in Galicia, welcomes the Figaro sailors for the third time. The race had not been hosted here since 1990.

Expected arrival of the boats: Monday 28 July
Start of the 2nd leg: Thursday 31 July

THe second stopover in Cherbourg-Octeville on the north coast of France, will host La Solitaire du Figaro for the sixth time.

Expected arrival of the boats: Monday 4 August
Start of the third leg: Friday 8 August

Finally L’Aber Wrac’h, will see the crowning of winner of the 2008 La Solitaire du Figaro. It will be the first time the race goes to this idyllic Breton port.

Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 14 August
Nautical Parade: Sunday 17 August


Qualifying Races:

In order to race in La Solitaire du Figaro 2008, the skippers must compete in one or more qualifying races:

- 27-29 March: Solo Figaro Les Sables
- 1 April to 31 May: Le Record SNSM - Saint-Nazaire-Saint-Malo
- 9-11 May: La Transmanche (Yacht Club des Abers)
- 23- 25 May: Solo Figaro Portdefrance.com Concarneau

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