La Solitaire du Figaro - First stopover in an English port

Fleet docked in Plymouth
© Alexis Courcoux
This is the first time that La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire has ever been to Plymouth and the first time in 11 years that there has been a stopover in an English port.

Charlotte Malcolm, Sutton Harbour Holdings PLC: 'It's a fantastic opportunity to showcase Sutton Harbour and the city…and isn't the weather amazing! Plymouth is Britain's Ocean City and it's important that we attract internationally renowned sailing events like the Solitaire.'

Plymouth has a long association with solo sailing races. Herbert ‘Blondie' Hasler came up with the idea of a single-handed transatlantic race in 1956, a revolutionary concept at the time. The first OSTAR was raced in 1960, from Plymouth to New York, it was won by Sir Francis Chichester. Six years later Chichester left Plymouth to sail single-handed around the world - the first person to achieve a true circumnavigation of the world solo from West to East via the Capes.

Many of today's Solitaire solo sailors also have great associations with the city. As we mentioned yesterday, leg winner, Alexis Loison (Groupe Fiva) was the overall winner of last year's Fastnet, sailing double-handed with his Dad. Charlie Dalin (Normandy Elite Team), who came fourth in Leg 1 has also won in Plymouth before - winning the Fastnet's double-handed Figaro class in 2013.

Charlie Dalin (Normandy Elite Team) 4eme de la 1ere etape de la Solitaire du Figaro Eric Bompard Cachemire 2014 entre Deauville et Plymouth - le 11/06/2014
© Alexis Courcoux
Charlie Dalin (Normandy Elite Team): 'Last time I was here it was with the Fastnet win with Artemis 77 with Nikki Curwen. Plymouth seems to be working well for me but not as well as Alexis - he wins the Fastnet and now the Solitaire!'

There are eight British sailors in this year's Solitaire, more than ever before. Most have spent many months winter training in France and are enjoying their trip to the homeland.

Rich Mason (Artemis 77): 'It's so nice to be home, it's actually a bit strange, I went to a restaurant last night and I tried to order in in French! I've been in France for such a long time, it's so nice to be home. Plymouth is such a nice venue, I'm looking forward to spending a few days here.'

Nick Cherry (Redshift): 'It's excellent to be sailing to Plymouth, it feels like coming home, it's good, sailing to England, I'm looking forward to English food and a pint of bitter!'

Of the eight Brits, three have strong connections with ‘Britain's Ocean City' - top rookie, Sam Matson (Artemis 21) went to university here, Henry Bomby (Red) is sponsored by RockFish, the award-winning seafood and chips restaurant in the city and Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) wouldn't be in this year's Solitaire if it wasn't for the help of a group of local businesses.

Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth): 'It's exciting to be here. For the last four years I've been concentrating on Figaro sailing but Figaro sailing has been in France and everything else has been in the UK and the two have never really come together. It's exciting to have all the Figaro sailors in Sutton Harbour and a nice bunch of people have come to say hi, the pontoons are crowded and busy. I don't think the Solitaire has seen anything like it on a foreign stopover before!'

Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) 31eme de la 1ere etape de la Solitaire du Figaro Eric Bompard Cachemire 2014 entre Deauville et Plymouth - le 11/06/2014
© Alexis Courcoux

Today was a chance for the sailors to relax and recover but tomorrow it's back to business. There are weather briefings and the sailors will be looking at the routing for Leg 2 that starts at 18:30BST on Saturday.

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