A new sponsor, an open race course: freshness is in the air for the 48th edition of the « Solitaire URGO Le Figaro », which has for starting city the attractive and appealing one of Bordeaux. 43 competitors did respond this year to the call of the “Queen solo racing”, challenging, tiring, capricious and ruthless sometimes, which gave birth to sailing legends. A 2017 edition which will be certainly be classified as a “grand cru”.
An attractive circuit
After 10 days of celebrations in the heart of “Bordeaux Fête le Fleuve” and an “along the banks” prologue between Bordeaux and Pauillac the big departure’s eve, the sailors will start the race in Pauillac on the 4th of June, at 2:00 pm. For the first 525 nautical miles leg, they will be heading north, in Gijon, Spain. Don’t think it’s a referral mistake, the only mark at “Chaussée de Sein” of this leg imposes this little detour towards this other “Finistère” and promises a strong battle.
After that, they will be heading to Concarneau with an ETA around the 10th of June. This classical leg involves: 520 nautical miles via again the “Chaussée de Sein” and “Île d’Yeu”, which they will have to bypass. After a well-deserved 36 hours break, they will deal for the 2nd year in a row with a 150-nautical-mile-sprint, but this time from Concarneau to Concarneau, through Guérande water (15th of June), before a last 505 challenging nautical miles’ step between Concarneau and Dieppe (19th of June), with two Channel crossings.
All in all: more than 1 700 nautical miles in 4 legs alternating between open sea and costal seas.
A high-level fleet
With 43 entries of 6 different nationalities, within 6 women, 10 rookies and 3 former winners, the « Solitaire URGO Le Figaro » 2017 showcases again a high-level fleet. After a preseason dominated without sharing by Charlie Dalin (Skipper Macif 2015), resolutely determined to take it all this year, they all see the Bordeaux deadline coming with desire and eagerness.
Winner of the “Solo Normandie” and the “Solo Concarneau”, Charlie Dalin is therefore probably the man to bet. “My objective is clearly to do my utmost to win. I finished 3rd in 2014 and 2nd in 2015 and 2016. I’m missing a place on the podium, the most important one. Last year, I was very close to it, around 5 minutes and 10’’ away from Yoann Richomme (Skipper Macif 2014)” he warns. “I devoted a lot of time in training, to gain in speed. I reconsidered everything so I could keep on progressing. It is going well for now.”
Furthermore, nothing is certain yet for the “France Elite de Course au Large en Solitaire” 2016 Champion, who will have to hold the well sharp competition’s assaults.
Like every year, they are a lot to pretend to victory, like Erwan Tabarly (Armor Lux) and Nicolas Lunven (Generali), who also did a very good preseason, like Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat), Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF), Sébastien Simon (Bretagne CMB Performance) or Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement). There will also be the announced duel between Jérémie Beyou, (Charal), and Yann Elies (Groupe Quéguiner – Leucémie Espoir). Both back on this edition, that fits them so well, after the “Vendée Globe” on which they respectively finished 3rd and 5th, the two men only have one objective: to be the first to win four times the “Solitaire URGO le Figaro”
Concerning the rookies, the game is open, but it will be necessary to look at Tanguy Le Turquais (Nibelis) and Milan Kolacez (Czeching The Edge), who are coming for the “Classe Mini” and on the last “Transat AG2R LA MONDIALE”, but also Pierre Leboucher, raised at the Olympic school or Pierre Rhimbault (Crédit Mutuel Espoir), immersed in the Pôle Finistère Course au Large since last autumn. Finally, among women, Justine Mettraux (Teamwork) rule for the moment the pre-season debates, with a 9th position on the “Solo Normandie” and a 16th position on the “Solo Concarneau”.
If the “Solitaire URGO Le Figaro” is THE biggest competition of the season, the “figarists” are expected in the meantime at Les Sables d’Olonne this end of the week from the 21st to the 30th of June, where they will be fighting for the “Solo Maître Coq”. A last chance to measure to the competitors and to refine the settings.
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