Record line-up for Solitaire
With 73 pre-entries including several of the top names in offshore racing, La Solitaire du Figaro 2010 has one of the most impressive line-ups of all the past 40 races.
Le Havre will host the start of La Solitaire for the first time on 27 July and from here skippers will set sail on a 1,717 nautical mile mix of inshore and offshore racing in four legs.
Singlehanded in one design 32ft Beneteau Figaros, La Solitaire remains one of the toughest races each year attracts professional and amateur sailors alike. Impressively this year, more skippers have signed up even than in the 40th anniversary race last year.
The 2010 race has 73 pre-entries, of which 17 are rookie first timers, three are women and eight are foreigners.
Among the line up are five previous winners attempting to earn their second title. They include Jérémie Beyou, Armel Le Cléac'h, Kito de Pavant, Eric Drouglazet and Nicolas Lunven, the 2009 winner. Many others have scored podium finishes over the years, including Yann Eliès, Gildas Morvan, Corentin Douguet, Thierry Chabagny and Frédéric Duthil.
The 17 first timers contains a diverse mix, as Race Director Jacques Caraës explained just before he set off on the Jules Verne Trophy record on board Groupama 3. "Among them is Bernard Stamm, a big name in offshore racing - he will be the most unusual of the rookies" says Caraës of the double Velux 5 Oceans winner. Then there is the young talents such as Damien Cloarec and Arthur Le Vaillant as well as Anthony Marchand, the most recent winner of the Brittany Region Espoir selection. Following the Mini Transat last year, many sailors from this fleet are graduating up. These include Laurent Bourgues, Charlie Dalin, and winner of the 2009 Charente Maritime-Bahia Transat 6.50 in the series class, Francisco Lobato, the first Portuguese sailor ever to enter La Solitaire du Figaro.
Eight non-French sailors marks the biggest foreign participation, compared to five in 2007! From English, Swiss, Italian, Irish, Portuguese and Franco-German, in addition to France, seven nationalities will be represented. Among the non-French are former Artemis Vendee Globe skipper Jonny Malbon, Nigel King, Ireland's Paul O'Rian and Italian Figaro regular, Pietro d'Ali. Joing Malbon and King from the UK is Katie Miller, who last year finished ninth in the OSTAR. The other female competitor this year is former Mini sailor Isabelle Joschke, who will be returning for a third time.
The young wolves of the Class will be of course be well represented this year with Fabien Delahaye and Paul Meilhat who fought out a formidable battle, finishing first and second respectively, separated by just 15 minutes among the rookie first timers in 2009. François Gabart and Adrien Hardy will each be taking part in their third Solitaire alongside stalwarts such as Erwan Tabarly, Jeanne Grégoire, Armel Tripon, Romain Attanasio, Laurent Pellecuer, Alexandre Toulorge, Sebastien Audigane, all faithful to the Class.
Village opens: Tuesday 20 July
Suzuki Prologue: Sunday 25 July
Start of the 1st leg: Tuesday 27 July
GIJON (515 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Friday 30 July
Start of the 2nd leg: Tuesday 3 August
BREST (418 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 5 August
Start of the 3rd leg: Monday 9 August
KINSALE (349 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 11 August
Start of the 4th leg: Monday 16 August
CHERBOURG-OCTEVILLE (435 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 19 August
Parade: Sunday 22 August