Only four skippers have won the Solitaire du Figaro three times and they are all well known by those who follow the Vendée Globe : Philippe Poupon, Michel Desjoyeaux, Jean Le Cam, Jérémie Beyou and Yann Eliès. Registered this year for the 48th edition, the latter two are dreaming of becoming the first to win the event four times. This is a race that is seen as the ideal training school for solo offshore racing. Beyou won in 2005, 2011 and 2014, while Eliès was the champion in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Since 2011, they have only missed out on one win and for good reason, as they were busy preparing for the Vendée Globe and missed the 2016 edition of the Solitaire.
Jérémie Beyou and Yann Eliès won’t find it easy this year as the standard is very high. No fewer than 43 sailors are taking part including 6 women and 10 rookies. Among the other favourites, we can name Nicolas Lunven (winner in 2009), Charlie Dalin (2016 French offshore champion) and Erwan Tabarly…
The race starts on Friday 4th June in Pauillac, with the first leg to Gijón (Spain). On 10th Juine, the fleet will leave Spain for Concarneau (Brittany). The third leg begins on 15th June with a race around the Breton islands starting and finishing in Concarneau. Finally, the fourth and final leg will see the fleet sail from Concarneau to Dieppe (start on 19th June with the finish due on 21st).
Jérémie Beyou: “I’m a solid outsider”
Jérémie Beyou will be competing for the 16th time and knows this event by heart, but this will be the first time in the colours of his new partner, Charal. After his incredible third place in the Vendée Globe, Jérémie quickly returned to sailing his Figaro Bénéteau, competing in the two preparatory races, finishing 14th in the Solo Concarneau and third in the Solo Maître CoQ. “I found it hard to keep up the pace in the Solo Concarneau, and had to worry about looking after my general strategy instead, so that at the finish, instead of getting some sleep, I spent the afternoon thinking about what went wrong. I ran through everything and that really helped with the Solo Maître CoQ,” explained the skipper of Charal, who believes he has a good chance of winning the Solitaire: “I think a fourth win is possible. The favourites are Nicolas Lunven and Charlie Dalin, who have been the reference figures in terms of sheer performance for the past two years, but I’m not far off. Like in Yoann Richomme’s race last year, I keep telling myself if I sail the right way, if I take a few risks here and there and manage to keep up the pace, I look like a solid outsider.”
Yann Eliès has to be one of the favourites
Like Jérémie Beyou, we have to see Yann Eliès as one of the favourites in this 48th Solitaire du Figaro? This is Yann’s 17th attempt. As well as his number of wins, he is also along with Jean Le Cam the most successful in terms of leg victories with ten wins. This is amazing if we look at how demanding this event is and the standard required. This year, Yann may smash two records if he wins a leg and the overall event. 5th in the Vendée Globe and the first racer on a boat without foils, Eliès also took part in the Solo Concarneau and the Solo Maître CoQ, finishing respectively third and fourteenth. “I’m beginning to look ahead positively,” explained Yann. “I have been thinking of this Solitaire for a moment already. I was expecting the preparation to be tricky. I’m up for it now. I can feel the stress and adrenalin pumping as the excitement builds…”
OB / M&M