48 for La Solitaire du Figaro

Strong line up for this year's singlehanded offshore racing showdown

Thursday June 10th 2010, Author: Sabina Mollart-Rogerson, Location: France

The 41st Solitaire du Figaro taking place from 20 July until 22 August over a 1717 mile course, will be raced by 48 entries, including eight rookies and five non-French entries.

This year Le Havre will host the race for the very first time, followed by stopovers in Gijón, Brest, Kinsale and finally Cherbourg-Octeville - a course with many traps punctuated with a number of tricky passages, notably the Raz Blanchard, the Raz de Sein and the Bay of Biscay.

As Race director Jacques Caraës says: “What a fine show of skippers for the 41st edition of La Solitaire! Despite of the current [economic] circumstances, 48 competitors will be taking part, and great skippers they are! It is very satisfying. Five previous winners and potentially 15 sailors in with a real chance of winning the title are going to be there. I am very happy about seeing some of the 'oldies' coming to the class: it is very important for a competition to still attract so many renowned sailors. The younger ones this year are ambitious and well prepared following relentless training in their respective centers. They will have to be reckoned with, and let’s not forget the rookies, eager to compete and the amateurs still providing some great stories for La Solitaire.”

Several return with the aim of winning a second Solitaire title and enter into small circle of multiple winners of La Solitaire: Michel Desjoyeaux, Philippe Poupon and Jean Le Cam each with three victories, Guy Cornou, Jean-Marie Vidal, Gilles Gahinet, Nicolas Troussel and Gilles Le Baud each on two wins. Groupe Bel skipper Kito de Pavant is making his great comeback after a three-year absence racing his IMOCA 60. He will have serious competition in the 2009 winner Nicolas Lunven, Armel Le Cléac’h, Eric Drouglazet, and Jérémie Beyou, who won two legs last year.

Also set on finally reaching the top step of the podium are Yann Eliès, Frédéric Duthil, Thierry Chabagny, Gildas Morvan and Erwan Tabarly will no doubt be in the front lines.

Sébastien Josse returns to La Solitaire after two Vendée Globes and a Volvo Ocean Race, following a seven-year break sailing the oceans - a very good omen to start on the Figaro again. Karine Fauconnier’s participation is also a nice surprise. The Ladycat D35 skipper last took part in La Solitaire in 2000, and this summer she will be once more be at the start line with thousand of miles of sailing experience under her belt.

Not quite so numerous as in preceding years, with eight competitors, the rookie line-up is set to be of a high standard. From the Mini 6.50 to IMOCA clss, each one of the rookies has excelled in his or her field. They include Switzerland's double Velux 5 Oceans winner Bernard Stamm, the Portuguese Francisco Lobato, winner of the Transat 6.50, and Damien Guillou, with several Olympic campaigns to his credit. Also to be watched are Anthony Marchand, Yoann Richomme and Damien Cloarec, newcomers all looking for success. The novices to La Solitaire will be lining up against the veterans of the Figaro circuit, headed by Jean-Paul Mouren who is on his 23rd participation!

As on the rise and worth watching closely are Fabien Delahaye, first rookie in 2009, Adrien Hardy, winner of the Class 40's Solidaire du Chocolat 2009, François Gabart, Thomas Rouxel, Paul Meilhat, Alexis Loison, Ronan Treussart and Eric Peron who over the years have been making remarkable progress.

Five non-French sailors will be participating in La Solitaire this summer: Jonny Malbon (GBR), Pietro D’Ali (ITA), Isabelle Joschke (GER), Francisco Lobato (POR) and Bernard Stamm (SUI). As for the French sailors, most skippers are from Brittany, 29 in 2010, 6 from southern France, 4 from the Atlantic coast, 3 from Normandy and 1 from Paris.

Reminder of the key dates:
- LE HAVRE
Village opens: Tuesday 20th July
Suzuki Prologue: Sunday 25th July
Start of the 1st leg: Tuesday 27th July
- GIJON (515 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Friday 30th July
Start of the 2nd leg: Tuesday 3rd August
- BREST (418 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 5th August
Start of the 3rd leg: Monday 9th August
- KINSALE (349 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 11th August
Start of the 4th leg: Monday 16th August
- CHERBOURG-OCTEVILLE (435 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 19th August
Closing Parade: Sunday 22nd August

Full entry list here

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