Published on 05/05/2019
The Solo Maître Coq was the first ever single-handed event for the new Figaro Bénéteau 3, which has armed the skippers with a number of valuable lessons to take forward to next months Solitaire URGO Le Figaro – as well as a good idea of the form guide.
The man with the biggest smile on his face at the end of the event was Xavier Macaire, who claimed victory over 46 rivals. Macaire went into the final 340-nautical mile offshore leg in fourth place after two coastal legs, and a fourth place finish in that leg was enough for the skipper of Figaro Groupe SNEF to take home the spoils.
Xavier, how was this first offshore race on board the Figaro 3?
“It was good. I had good speed, good sensations, I’m happy with my strategy that allowed me to always stay in touch with the pack of head. I was still in the top 10, looking for the slightest opportunity to position myself when the time came in the final leg.
“Then a lot of things happened in Belle Ile, the positions changed a lot and a big piece of the ranking was decided there. Once past Belle Ile, I realized that the three boats in front of me in the overall standings were far behind… I said to myself ‘move on, there may be something to play in the general!’
“I sailed to the end of the stage with that in mind. I had to position myself, I had to take place by place. I could hardly imagine the result at the end, I’m super happy! I still have a little trouble to believe it, but it’s really great!”
Before the start, you saw this race rather like training for the Solitaire ...
“Yes because I had done very little solo sailing before the start. But I have the impression that my character as Figariste has taken over! I managed the manoeuvres well, and I also managed to rest well during the race, especially on last night, which allowed me to be fresh for the last hours of racing which were decisive.
“I still have to improve some things, especially the gybes… The spinnaker is 125 m2. When there are 15 knots of wind it is fine, but when there were 22/23 knots, it is another story!”
Your excellent fourth place in the offshore leg also allows you to take your first test victory on the Figaro circuit. Does it give you confidence for The Solitaire URGO Le Figaro?
“I needed this victory to realize that I am capable of it. It gives me confidence in myself, especially with such a high level of sailors. It’s been years since I run after the performances; I often reach podiums but never overall victories. I now know that I am able to do it.”
What is your assessment of this first solo race aboard Le Figaro 3?
“My assessment? The Figaro Bénéteau 3 is hard work! With the conditions we had, it remained manageable, I could use the autopilot regularly. But it will be necessary to see when we will have more wind under spinnaker; we will probably reach the limits of the autopilot, it will be necessary to be on the bar all the time. The boat is really very physical when raced alone, it’s clear.”
To the Solo Maître Coq at home must be extra special?
“Yes totally! I settled in Les Sables d’Olonne, I am supported by Les Sables d’Olonne Vendée Offshore Race which organizes the Solo Maître Coq, but also by the agglomeration of Les Sables d’Olonne. It makes me very happy and I am very proud to win this race here!”
What is next before you leave for the start of the Solitaire in Nantes?
“I have a lot of small technical installations to make on the boat: an emergency autopilot, an endoscope that would allow me to see the keel… It’s going to take a lot of work, between ordering the equipment, installing it, putting it on the boat, all this will take time. I will also find time to train obviously. And also go see my osteopath to fix my back! “