Artemis Offshore Academy in La Solitaire

Sam Goodchild, Nick Cherry and Henry Bomby set on the effective world championship of solo offshore racing on Sunday
La Solitaire du Figaro, the effective world championship of singlehanded offshore racing, set sails this Sunday from Paimpol in northern France. This year the event is divided into three, not four legs: Leg 1 (24 June) - Paimpol (FRA) to Gijón (ESP) via NW Jersey and Les Birvideaux - 504 miles Leg 2 (1 July): Gijón (ESP) to Saint Gilles Croix de Vie (FRA) via the Occidental de Sein, Vandree and Raz de Sein - 442 milles Leg 3 (8 July): Saint Gilles Croix de Vie (FRA) to Cherbourg - Octeville (FRA) via Wolf Rock - 486 milles These are hard economic times in Europe at present and so the entry this year is down to 37, 10 less than 2011 and the year's previous when numbers were typically around 45-50. However while the size of entry is down, the quality of the fleet isn’t, with numbers mostly dwindling from the bottom of the fleet. This year many of the regular faces return with probably 10 of the 37 capable of overall victory in this combined elapsed time competition. These largely fall into two groups – the ol’ timers and the young hotshots. Among the former is Cercle Verte skipper Gildas Morvan, who is one of the most capped Solitaire sailors, having 16 under his belt already. Morvan has so often been the bridesmaid, having finished 2nd in 2008 and 3rd from 1999-2001. However could this be his year – he’s already struck gold once in 2012, winning the Transat AG2R with fellow competitor Charlie Dalin. Also among the more seasoned Figarists, is former IMOCA 60 skipper Yann Elies on Groupe Queguiner/Journal des entreprises. Elies has 12 Solitaires behind him, including second placed finishes in 2004 and 2009, his first Solitaire back in 1997. Fred Duthill on Sepalumic and Erwan Tabarly on Nacarat should also be