Brits in the Solitaire du Figaro part one

Photo: Courcoux-Marmara/Le Figaro
Who is the hungrier - Sam Goodchild or Phil Sharp?
Brits have scored some good results in solo long distance offshore races over the years – Ellen famously second to MichDes in the 2000-1 Vendee Globe, Mike Golding third four years later (despite having no keel), Sam Davies fourth in an ancient boat in 2008-9. In the Mini Transat again we have come close: Brian Thompson - sixth, Alex Bennett and Mark Turner - both fifth, Phil Sharp - fourth, but in fact it wasn't one of the pros but Simon Curwen who has posted the British result finishing second in 2001. But when it comes to the Solitaire du Figaro, that starts on Sunday, the British shorthanded sailors have never cracked it. Until recently Sam Davies was one of the few Anglo-Saxons to have embarked on a fully fledged Figaro campaign, moving to France, joining the famous Pol Atlantique school in Port la Fôret training alongside the best – and her top results were 19th in 2003 and 2004, second first timer (‘bizuth’) in 2003, her best leg result being fifth on the leg into Portsmouth in 2004. And that’s not because she’s an average sailor, but because the Solitaire du Figaro is genuinely up there as being one of the hardest events to win across the whole pantheon of all sailing events. The training and degree of preparation that the leading competitors put into it (and that’s probably the top half of the fleet) are in our opinion second only to the America’s Cup and the Olympics. So it comes as no surprise that all the winners of the Vendee Globe, from Alain Gautier in 1992 on, have all be significant players on the Figaro circuit. Gautier won the Solitaire in 1989, the 1996 Vendee Globe winner Christophe Auguin won it in 1986, 2000 and 2008 Vendee Globe winner Michel