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2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Off And Running

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  • 2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Off And Running

    Pirouelle sets pace as Channel Islands challenge beckons.

    After a relatively quick, express sprint across the Channel from Sunday’s start off Caen to pass the Isle of Wight early this morning, the leaders of the first stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec are finding their return path – heading to a turning mark off Paimpol – increasingly challenging.

    On the second afternoon of the 610 nautical miles first course from Caen to Kinsale, their northerly breeze has been steadily fading, dropping from the welcome 12-15 knots of this morning. The adverse tidal current at the Channel Islands will hamper them, and the Casquets exclusion zone blocks their direct path to the next turning mark just off Paimpol.

    So far the course has run in their favour but the second night looks complicated.

    Le Havrais Guillaume Pirouelle (R?gion Normandie), 26, may have made a slightly inauspicious start Sunday lunchtime in what might still be considered ‘home waters’ – he got his timing to the line wrong – but he quickly made amends and has led the 32 strong fleet since around 1700hrs Sunday evening, emerging from the Normandy beaches with a steady lead of 1.2 miles which he has held through day, pursued by the hugely talented 21 year old Basil Bourgnon (Edenred)

    The two ‘20 somethings’ have Alexis Loison (Groupe REEL) – on his 17th participation – in hot pursuit. Normandy’s La Solitaire local hero Loison mentored the young former 470 Youth World Champion Pirouelle through his first two years in the Figaro Beneteau 3, took him on his first Figaro Transatlantic two years ago, and may yet - perish the thought - come between Pirouelle – last year’s runner up – and this year’s overall title. Loison has two sixths, a fifth and fourth in 2021 as his best finishes so far overall. And over the coming hours the former Fastnet Race winner will sail through his ‘backyard’ off his Cherbourg-Cotentin.

    The big question is how unspecified foil damage which he sustained in a collision not long after the start will affect his performance. Most of the climb to the Fastnet is likely to be upwind.

    The night should see the NW’ly breeze build again but drop as they climb towards the Scillies, which – as it was last year – looks like there might be a road block of light winds.

    Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) has been consistently in the lead group, from fourth at Nab Tower, fourth at the Intermediate Sprint passage at the Needles Fairway where he missed by seconds a one minute bonus taken off the elapsed time of the third positioned skipper. Leader Pirouelle collected a five minute bounty.

    Contacted on the VHF by the guard boat, Pirouelle said, “It's going okay and I would like it to continue like this. I didn't get off to a great start. I missed the last 30 seconds of the start procedure a bit and couldn't start the first upwind like I wanted. But I got back into it fine. The leg across to Barfleur was pretty clear in my head. Then, the Channel crossing turned out to be easier than I thought. There were no particular difficulties. Same for the Isle of Wight, even if I fell into a small wind hole on the last part. The important thing is that things have got off to a good start, before tackling the second Channel crossing. For the moment, I am rather ahead of the timing of the current. I'm going to slow a little less, but on the other hand I don't have the stronger wind expected. We will see how it will evolve. But it was pretty good to do a little more spinnaker work than what was planned, so much the better.”

    Pirouelle sets pace as Channel Islands challenge beckons. (

    Germany’s Susann Beucke (This Race is Female) is hanging in well in 26th. Kiwi rookie Ben Beasley (Ocean Attitude) is in 28th over a mile ahead of Brit David Paul ( a Drop) who he was preparateur for last season.

    Intermediate Sprint at Needles Fairway :

    ? 1 - Guillaume Pirouelle (R?gion Normandie) : at 09h38 (5 minutes bonus)

    ? 2 - Alexis Loison (Groupe Reel) : at 09h55 (3 minutes bonus)

    ? 3 - Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire) : at 09h59 (1 minute bonus)

    ? 4 - Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) : ? 09h59

    ? 5 - Basile Bourgnon (Endenred) : at 09h59
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2

    In 1970 the first edition of La Solitaire du Figaro took place; it was then called the Aurore race because it was organized by the newspaper of the same name. In 1980, Le Figaro bought the event that now bears his name.

    Its founders, Jean-Louis Guillemard and Jean-Michel Barrault wanted to create a solo race with two stages and without assistance open to both the best professionals and amateurs.

    Over the years, it has become one of the most prestigious sailing races in France.

    At the start, all types of boats took part.

    However, after 1980, racing switched to prototype Half Tonners originally designed for crewed racing.In1991, a new milestone was reached with the arrival of the Figaro BENETEAU I, specially designed by
    Jean-Marie Finot for the solo race.In 2003, a new boat, longer and more powerful is chosen, it is the Figaro BENETEAU 2. It will be the support of the race until 2018.

    ​From 2019, the Figaro BENETEAU 3, the world's first production one-design with foils, succeeded it.

    The race, historically, always starts from France with a total course of between 1,500 and 2,000 nautical miles, it offers, depending on the editions, stopovers in foreign countries, in particular in Spain, Ireland and Great Britain. .

    After 15 years of good and loyal service, the Figaro BENETEAU 2 gives way to the Figaro BENETEAU 3 on the Figaro Beneteau circuit. The new generation sailboat took its first tacks in the French Elite Offshore Racing Championship in the spring of 2019, during the Sardinha Cup.

    A veritable revolution in the world of offshore racing, the Figaro BENETEAU 3 is the world's first production one-design foiling monohull. A large-scale project, the Figaro BENETEAU 3 is the result of strong collaboration between the BENETEAU Group and the Figaro Beneteau Class, OC Sport Pen Duick (the organizer of the Solitaire du Figaro) and the Le Figaro group. And it is under the pen of the Van Peteghem – Lauriot-Prevost architectural firm, which won the last two Vend?e Globes, that the latest of the Class Figaro Beneteau one-designs took shape.

    Here is the route of the 1st leg of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec. It was developed by the race organizer OC SPORT PEN DUICK and the race management.

    "The first stage alone presents all the characteristics of the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, with a very coastal and demanding first part and a second offshore part. After setting off from Caen and rounding the Saint Marcouf islands, the sailors will perform a double crossing of the Channel via the Isle of Wight.

    I have left the island bypass free, so that each sailor can make the choice of rounding the island via the Solent or from the south depending on the conditions at Nab Tower, the first brand around the east of Isle of Wight. Once the Jument des Heaux de Brehat mark has been crossed, the skippers will set sail for the Fastnet lighthouse, for a leg of almost 300 nautical miles, which will begin the offshore part of this leg. A few tacks later, the arrival at Kinsale could be tricky with tidal coefficients of more than 100."

    DEPARTURE DATES: August 27, 2023
    ESTIMATED ARRIVAL: August 31, 2023

    Leg 2

    "Often coveted, never achieved, the rounding of the Isle of Man is the symbol of this stage which makes all the richness of the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec. A stage of 630 nautical miles, with a single course mark (or almost) , and yet a stage that we could qualify as coastal.

    Departing from Kinsale, the tidal coefficients will always be high, generating strong currents in the Irish Sea. The evolution of the figaros will surely be dictated by this factor until the bypass of the Isle of Man, in a region famous for its mists, its rapid weather changes and its many fishing boats.
    Vigilance will therefore be particularly important before starting the final stretch towards the bay of Morlaix."
    DEPARTURE DATES: September 3, 2023
    ESTIMATED ARRIVAL: September 7, 2023


    “Becoming almost a classic of the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, a double crossing of the Bay of Biscay, via a mark in front of Gijon, will close the 2023 course.

    After the departure in the bay of Morlaix, the figaros will evolve along the north coast of Brittany, quite steep, to get to the west of Sein. Skippers will most likely have to choose between taking the Passage du Fromveur, south of the island of Ouessant, or the Chenal du Four, along the coast of Finist?re.

    The Bay of Biscay can offer complex weather situations, and the finest strategists will then be able to fully express themselves. The arrival in Piriac-sur-Mer, in Loire Atlantique, will close this 2023 edition.

    DEPARTURE DATE: September 10, 2023
    ESTIMATED ARRIVAL: September 14, 2023

    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery


    • #3
      Dhallene is 'cock of the north' at Chicken Rock

      The reward for rounding Chicken Rock light among the lead group early this morning has been a modest slingshot southwards, sailing downwind at almost double the speed of those who had still to complete this long climb from Kinsale to this most northerly turning mark of this Stage 2 course.

      Hugo Dhallene, stage leader, was making 11.5kts at 0800hrs local time, already nearly passing the NW tip of Wales, with a lead of 4.6 nautical miles over the Normandy duo Alexis Loison (Groupe REEL) with Guillaume Pirouelle (R?gion Normandie) – Loison’s prot?g? – who is 2.3 miles behind him.
      And Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) is eighth some 13 miles behind the leader.

      Hugo Dhallenne (YC de Saint-Lunaire), 1st at Chicken Rock said this morning: “The climb was like a real speed race with those round me. It's the one who got the fastest north. Overall, the wind-current sequence means that this tends to widen the gaps in our favour. I try to make the most of it. It's really nice to be at the front. Now there is the downhill, with more uncertain weather at the end of this stage. We're going to start attacking downwind As they passed the lighthouse, the situation was fairly calm with 14 knots from the northeast. This allows you to go south at 8.7 knots, under tight big spinnaker. We are going full south, because we're going with the current. I slept a lot last night, I ate well too. Since the start, I am on my 5th bottle of water everything is fine on board. My goal is the rookie ranking. If a seasoned Figaro sailor overtakes me, it will be a shame, but it won't be super serious.”

      Times at Chicken Rock (French time)

      1 / Hugo Dhallenne (Saint-Lunaire YC): 4h28
      2 / Alexis Loison (REAL Group): 4h49
      3 / Arthur Hubert (MonAtout? 4h55
      4 / Guillaume Pirouelle (R?gion Normandie): 5h00
      5 / Jules Delpech (ORCOM): 5h05
      6 / Nils Palmieri (TeamWork): 5h11
      7 / Julie Simon (TWELVE): 5h17
      8 / Philippe Hartz (National Navy-Foundation of the Sea): 5h25
      9 / Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan): 5h32
      10 / Charlotte Yven (Skipper Macif 2023): 5h48


      Hugo Dhallenne leads the flock to Chicken Rock lighthouse

      The climb to Chicken Rock lighthouse, south of the Isle of Man is proving to be not for the faint hearted among the 32 solo skippers racing on the second stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro. The combination of strong tides, periods of light winds and different strategic options is creating some big gaps in the fleet.

      French rookie Hugo Dhallene (YC St Lunaire), 33, leads the fleet as they beat north to the most northerly turn of a 570 miles course to the Bay of Morlaix which started from Kinsale on Sunday lunchtime. Winner of the series fleet in the 2021 MiniTransat, Dhallene is an experienced offshore racer from Saint Malo whose father was on Eric Tabarly’s technical crew.

      With some 55 miles to climb out of the Saint George’s Channel, racing still in a NE’ly wind, Dahllene now has the majority of the fleet more lined up behind him, including Ireland’s Stage 1 winner Tom Dolan in tenth at six miles off the lead. But around 1700hrs UK time this afternoon they were still making between two and four knots of boat speed.

      Dhallene led through the Intermediate Sprint at South Arklow this afternoon, gaining himself a 5 minutes time bonus at around 1220hrs local time, Dolan was around 40 minutes behind but key for him is having some pre-race favourites like Gaston Morvan (R?gion Bretagne-CMB Performance), Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire), and Basile Bourgnon (EDENRED) even further behind. Bourgnon – fifth into Kinsale – was two hours behind the leader at the so called ‘sprint’ mark.

      Race Director Yann Chateau announced earlier in the day that the flee will sail the long course, round the rock south of the Isle of Man rather than a possible shorter course which would have turned south offshore of Dublin Bay

      “The most optimistic models see an ETA of the first finisher in the Bay of Morlaix on Thursday during the day, the most pessimistic in the evening. The idea is to keep true to this stage as much as it is a test in the Irish Sea but still making sure there is enough rest time at the next stopover,"

      They said on the VHF Hugo Dhallenne (YC de Saint-Lunaire), after passing the mark of South Arklow

      “That's it, the intermediate sprint is over. Now to head due north to find Chicken Rock, near the Isle of Man. It is always upwind The current is quite strong here. For the moment, we have it with us, but it will soon be reversed. We take every little thing we can take; and then you have to deal with it. It's very nice to pass a mark in the lead on the Solitaire, especially 24 hours after the start. But the stage is far from over. There is still work to do, I want to stay at the front.”


      Stage 2 course shortened before start due to light winds forecast

      In an amendment posted Friday evening Yann Chateau, Race Director of the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec and OC SPORT Pen Duick told the 32 skippers the second stage to the Bay of Morlaix.

      Rather than go to the Isle of Man which lies in the north of the Irish Sea, because of forecast light winds, the course has been shortened. Two options are posted which reduce the planned 620 nautical miles course by either 120 or 60 miles, the objective being to provide a fair, even course and have the fleet into Roscoff on Thursday 7th September as planned.

      Topsy turvy weather picture

      “We find ourselves in a fairly exceptional weather situation. The Isle of Man and the Irish Sea are renowned for relatively active depressions. But we are seeing a very widespread anticyclonic ridge over the Celtic Sea and the Iroise Sea, while there are low pressure systems off the coast of Spain, which is quite rare in terms of weather. The routing times are very long with arrivals announced between Friday and Saturday which then don’t allow enough rest time for the skippers at the end of the race,” explains the Race Director.

      The first, the most optimistic and closest to the original route will therefore take the racers to the Chicken Rock lighthouse located in the southwest of the Isle of Man. The second, if the Figaros would struggle too much would take them on a shorter route to the Odas M2 weather buoy north of Dublin Bay.

      OC SPORT and Yann Chateau will make the final decision before the first mark of the course, South Arklow, located in the south of Dublin, looking to a finish on Thursday.

      " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery