2014 Solitaire du Figaro to visit the UK
The four leg course for the 2014 La Solitaire du Figaro-Eric Bompard has been announced by organiser, Pen Duick, and in an exciting development sees the effective world championship of singlehanded offshore racing visiting the UK.
After a build-up week starting on 29 May and a Prologue race on 31 May, the race will set sail from Deauville on the north coast of France on 8 June bound for the UK stopover in (drum roll)....Plymouth. The choice of city is appropriate: The West Country capital has been one of the key cities to promote singlehanded offshore racing since the dawn of the sport in the 1960 when the early OSTARs started from there (as they still do).
La Solitaire has a UK stopover next year thanks to the increased British presence in its fleet, largely thanks to efforts of the Artemis Offshore Academy. Plymouth is also appropriate as it is home to Henry Bomby's sponsor Rockfish, Bomby himself lives nearby in Kingswear, while Sam Goodchild, the first Artemis Offshore Academy scholarship winner, also has West Country roots in Falmouth.
In Plymouth, the fleet will be based in Sutton Harbour, in the the Barbican within the heart of the city centre.
From Plymouth the Solitaire fleet heads for Roscoff, where La Solitaire visited last year. Although directly across the Channel from Plymouth, the course will be set so that this will be the longest leg at 535 miles.
From Roscoff, the fleet heads around Ushant and down France's Atlantic coast to a stopover port (still to be finalised) in the Vendée, with the final 490 mile leg returning to the Channel with a finish in Cherbourg-Octeville.
For Sam Goodchild this will be his fourth Figaro season, having last year achieved the best British result since the race became one-design, when he finished 11th. The 24-year-old commented: “To have the Solitaire du Figaro come to Sutton Harbour in Plymouth is fantastic news, to be able to sail home in the key event of the season will be exciting. I really hope we can use it as a springboard to increase the awareness of short-handed sailing to the general public in the UK.”
Sam Goodchild Racing’s team has been working with a number of organisations in Plymouth under the banner, ‘A Future in Sailing’. Winning the bid to host the Solitaire in Sutton Harbour is the first major project for the consortium that sees Destination Plymouth, Plymouth University, Royal Western Yacht Club, Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, Horizons Children’s Sailing Charity, Plymouth City Council and Sam Goodchild Racing all working together to promote marine projects in the city.
Amanda Lumley, Chief Executive, Destination Plymouth: “Working with our ‘A Future in Sailing’ local consortium partners, we will host an exciting and engaging event in partnership with Sutton Harbour Holdings PLC. With its historic backdrop and vibrant shops, bars and restaurants Sutton Harbour is the perfect location for this event. We anticipate upwards of 30,000 people will attend the event during the days it is here from 11th to 14th June and there will be activities for the whole community including music, entertainment and opportunities to view the yachts up close.