Solitaire du Figaro preview part 2

James Boyd Photography /
A look at the form overall, while Nigel King and Conrad Humphreys discuss their prospects
As mentioned in part one of our preview to the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro Eric Bompard Cachemire, among this year’s 47 competitors are four British skippers, the strongest entry the UK has ever made in what many view as the unofficial annual world championship of singlehanded offshore racing. This is in no small part thanks to the advent of the Artemis Offshore Academy. We have looked at the prospects of Artemis Offshore Academy winner Sam Goodchild and the talented, somewhat maverick Phil Sharp and today we speak to Vendee Globe skipper Conrad Humphreys and well known professional sailor Nigel King about their campaigns – but first a little about this year’s race: As usual this year’s Solitaire du Figaro comprises four legs: 1) Perros Guirec-Caen (320 miles), starting 31 July. 2) Caen-Dun Laoghaire (470 miles), starting 7 August 3) Dun Laoghaire-Les Sables d’Olonne (475 miles), starting 14 August 4) Les Sables d’Olonne-Dieppe (430 miles), starting 21 August As the crow flies just 160 miles separate Perros-Guirec from Caen, the opening leg takes the boats past the Channel Islands and across to the UK coast where they must round the Eddystone light off Plymouth before heading east along the coast, past Start Point and Portland to the Needles Fairway buoy off the Needles before returning across the Channel to the finish Caen. With a very light forecast combined with spring tides there was the prospect of shortening course but instead the organisers have chosen to leave out one of the first marks that was to take the fleet along the notoriously treacherous north coast of Brittany, although the leg length remains 320 miles. As Race Director Jacques Caraës explains: “The first mark, the Roche Gautier cardinal, northeast of Perros Guirec, has been removed from the course. The solo sailors will therefore head direct to the Radio France mark. Note that