On June, 4th a new edition of La Solitaire de Figaro starts. This solo regatta debuted in 1970, and since 1991 it has been raced in one-design built by Bénéteau. Figaro Bénéteau I boat was replaced in 2003 by the version II, and in 2019 is planned to debut a third version with foils.
This year La Solitaire de Figaro has a 1,700-mile course. As usual, the course includes a foreign country visiting the Spanish port of Gijón. Other years have also visits Ireland or Great Britain. The 2017 four stages are Bordeaux-Pouillac to Gijon (4th June, 525 miles), Gijón to Concarneau (10th June, 520 miles), Concarneau-Concarneau (15th June, 150 miles) and Concarneau to Dieppe (19th June, 505 miles). 43 sailors from 6 nations (GBR 3, CZE 1, SUI 1, TUR 1, USA 1 and FRA 36) will fight for victory in this edition. 2017 is also a good year for the girls, who contribute with 6 entries to the race, while 10 entries are rookies. Both battles promise strong emotions and interesting duels.
The entry list has Jérémie Beyou and Yann Eliès as its rockstars. Both have won before the Solitaire Figaro three times, although the 10 stage victories of Eliès improve Beyou’s record, which accumulates 7 stage victories. Nicolas Lunven is the third participant who won it before, and this year will seek for his second victory. Tough front-runners battle too.
La Solitaire de Figaro is a very prestigious regatta in the world of solo sailors. Its format of short stages added to one-design boats force to sail with high intensity. The scoring system, adding up times stage by stage, requires them to maintain high performance from the start to the finishing line. The conditions are varied, bypassing the ever-uncomfortable Gulf of Biscay and the coasts of southern England. It can become cold or hot, windy and glassy, suffer strong currents on the South Coast of England, keep a sight on shallows and get tracked the marine traffic. Managing sleep (sometimes a luxury souvenir), eating well and staying high in bad times are challenges added to the strategy, manoeuvres and speed of the boat.
La Solitaire de Figaro does not give it away; it is a coveted and difficult victory. The elapsed winner time oscillates between the 10-12 days according to the conditions of each edition, but to aspire to the podium one should not add 1 hour more than the winner.