Photo: Courcoux-Le Figaro

The build-up

Solitaire du Figaro starts on Sunday

Wednesday July 27th 2011, Author: Sabina Mollart Rogerson, Location: France

Perros-Guirec in Northern Brittany has been a hive of activity since the Solitaire du Figaro race village opened and boats arrived last Saturday. The marina is full with the skippers making final preparations to their boats and the Race Village is bursting with activity. Final security and measurement checks are being made, moments of rest and concentration for others as they plan ahead to the Eric Bompard Cachemire Prologue race, scheduled for Friday 28th at 17:30, prior to the start of the race proper on Sunday.

All 47 skippers, from first time participants to the highly experienced, attended the welcome briefing held yesterday before completing registration and the compulsory measurement and safety checks began.

“We’ve already checked 20 boats, measured 13 genoas and 11 jibs”, explained measurer Michel Perrouin, this morning. "There are nine volunteers and three professionals who still have a busy schedule inspecting the 50 odd sets of safety equipment on each of the competing Figaros. They have to brand the boats, ensure that the Eric Bompard Cachemire sponsor’s stickers on all the fore-sails (genoas and jibs), and verify the onboard communications instruments (VHF, AIS). Measurers, organisers, technical team all have to work in strict co-operation in order to ensure the skippers safely and provide for the best possible racing."

Jacques Caräes, Race Director commented: “We had a very good day yesterday. I’m happy to see that the registration process took only 24 hours, confirming how professional and organised our sailors are, especially in supplying the appropriate documents. The Figaro Bénéteau Class is a well-oiled machine and the competitors are more and more prepared, which gives us room to proceed quickly and be ready for racing.”

Oswen Lefoll, shore manager of the Baie de Saint-Brieuc three-boat team commented: “There is still a lot to do with the measuring and some final details to be checked on the boats. The skippers are experienced which makes it easier to get to the start well prepared. Mainly there are those last minute needs to cater too such as ensuring they all have what they wish to have on board. We try and give them space and time to relax and unwind before the start so they can focus on the weather and routing.”

Artemis skipper Sam Goodchild, the youngest competitor and first time participant said: “Right now I am not too stressed...pretty relaxed and happy! I should be ready and I can't wait to get racing. I might go out for a sail to try and tweak a few things, but am pretty confident that the boat is ready. It is the first time I will compete on such a big event and am sure the pressure will start mounting soon...I must say that there is a really big following of the event and sailing in France, with a good race village, organisation and it really is great.”

Frédéric Rivet skipper of Vendée 1 added: “We have fished all the security check and the boat it pretty much reach so I have started to look at the weather forecasts to see what kind of conditions we can expect on the first leg. Looks like it could be really light! I am happy to be back for this 42nd edition of the Figaro!”

Alexis Littoz-Baritel skipper of Savoie Mont Blanc added: “I was here last year as a boat hand or preparateur working for a boat and then with my mind set on competing for the 42nd edition of La Solitaire. I have managed to do all I set out to do in terms of preparation and sailing, despite the little time I have had since getting my boat. I am really into it and can't wait to get going and seeing what it is all like. To be honest, I am also a little apprehensive as there is an element of the unknown out there, but all in all I am pretty ready to leave; it has been ages that I have been wanting to do it and been thinking about it...The aim is to reach the Radio France mark (first mark of the race)! As a match racer, I hope to have good starts and try and get to one of the first marks in the lead.”

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