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La Solitaire du Figaro - Who will claim 44th edition victory?

'Arrivees des Figaros Beneteau dans le port de la Lune de Bordeaux - Solitaire du Figaro-Eric Bompard cachemire 2013'    A. Courcoux    Click Here to view large photo

When it comes to the 44th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire, many are wondering who will win. The event boasts an exceptional line-up. Since 2009, there has never been such a number of potential winners among the 41 racing skippers. Who would you bet on?

'Usually one talks of 15 potential candidates for victory, but this year you might well consider 20' says Michel Desjoyeaux when asked for a prediction. TBS's skipper is one of the past winners who will be on the starting line again this year. There are six of them in this very special category, and several with more than one win under their belt: Mich' Desj' (three victories), Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) who won twice like Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ), veteran Gilles Le Baud (Carnac Thalasso and Spa) not to mention Nicolas Lunven (Generali, first in 2009) and 2012 winner Yann Eliès (Groupe Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir). Except for Gilles Le Baud, 64 years, whose ambition is mainly to finish in style, all the others are included in the potential winners' file on the eve of the start.

Who else is there? Several skippers may have not yet achieved the overall success but have reached the podium and won legs. Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert), over 17 editions, has bagged five leg wins and four podiums; Frédéric Duthil (Sepalumic) secured three leg wins and was third overall twice (in 2008 and 2009); Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) made a second place in 2011 after having won a leg in his home waters in 2011 and 2012 when Morgan Lagravière (Vendée) finished just behind Yann Eliès. Ten more skippers, seeded players, who might play their cards well this year.

Hidden in the shadow of the big stars, there is always a group of outsiders, ready to grab their chance to get into the spotlight. Most of them come from the younger generation, have already shown their potential in the Figaro Bénéteau circuit and the Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard cachemire like Anthony Marchand (Bretagne - Crédit Mutuel Performance), Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement), Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls), Xavier Macaire (Skipper Hérault) or Paul Meilhat (Skipper Macif 2011). Some others like Yoann Richomme (DLBC), Alexis Loison (Groupe Fiva), Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Bûches) and Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) could well be described as wild cards who could climb into the top 15. All will be decided on the 1,938 miles long battle from Bordeaux to Dieppe. Yet, victory is not always a plain, statistic affair. Any potential winner needs to be consistent over a month, for all the four stages. It is also and mostly motivation, will power, endurance to make a difference as stated by Gildas Morvan: 'There is always an incredible line-up. Those who won never, ever got out easily. This race is tough, you fight more against yourself than the others'. Words of wisdom.

Arrivees des Figaros Beneteau dans le port de la Lune de Bordeaux - Solitaire du Figaro-Eric Bompard cachemire 2013 -  A. Courcoux   Click Here to view large photo

Anthony Marchand, Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance: 'Each of us has his own favourite, mine is Yann (Eliès). He is really focused to do well in this Solitaire. I've seen that when we were training in Port La Forêt last winter. Armel (Le Cléach') and Jérémie (Beyou) both have other big projects and it is harder for them to focus just on this race. Me, I have the chance to do well, maybe win a leg and be consistent on the others'.

Michel Desjoyeaux, TBS: 'Usually one talks of 15 potential candidates to victory, but this year you can well consider 20. I can't see one who stands out. Maybe on Friday I will be able to tell you more… Me? I will tell you in one month's time, on June 23rd in Dieppe'.

Sam Goodchild, Shelterbox Disaster Relief: 'Guys who can win it? It is hard to say but I think six or seven can win it. My favourites? My personal favourite would probably be Jeremie Beyou, but then there's Armel, Mich can win it, Morgan Lagraviere, Yann Elies, who won it last time. I could go on… Dark horse? I reckon Julian Villian is pretty strong for his age. He was a bizuth last year. He is doing the Tour Voile with Groupama this year. He hasn't been sailing a Figaro this winter, he's been trimming the main for Franck Cammas. You imagine he'd learn a bit from that. He is probably the strongest of the youngsters'.

Alexis Loison, Groupe Fiva: 'Who will be the winner? Me, of course! I'm joking, naming names is hard. Il will give all I have, I see myself as an outsider. During winter training I found Jérémie Beyou extremely strong, not to mention Yann Eliès…'

Thomas Ruyant, Destination Dunkerque: 'Lucky he who knows! Maybe me, why not? My favourites are Nico (Lunven) and Yann (Eliès), they're strong. And myself too, I will race with no inferiority complex'.

Corentin Horeau, Bretagne - Crédit Mutuel Espoir: 'Hard to say, I would place Anthony Marchand in the top three. I think he is in good shape, has raced well in the Transat and prepared well last winter. I believe he can be a shocker, he is ready to. And then there's the great 'classics' like Beyou, Eliès, Morvan and Morgan (Lagravière) who can also do well'.

Damien Guillou, La Solidarité Mutualiste: 'Gosh, impossible to say! As always. Truth is that on the last editions there is always been a past winner who came back to the game and dominated. This year the level is so high. Past winners and some who still have to, but are so well prepared. I guess that there is at least a dozen who could win'.

Fabien Delahaye, Skipper Macif 2012: 'Good question! At least 15 can win, five or six among past winners. And the experts like Gildas (Morvan), Thierry (Chabagny), Fred Duthil. Everyone can be fast, it will be decided by weather strategy. On my part, I will give it a try. Paul (Meilhat) is also very strong, he is fast and self-confident. There are many who could…'

Gildas Morvan, Cercle Vert: 'A Solitaire is never easy to win, very tough for everyone, star or not. Whatever happens, it will be hard. There are some good youngsters, some veterans who come back for more. But this race is also a battle with yourself, more than against the others. The level is always so high at the Solitaire so… I don't mind! Those who won, no matter the edition, have never had it the easy way'.

Thierry Chabagny, Gedimat: 'I don't think it will be a past winner. And that's good because there will be more chances for everyone. But it will be someone who trained well, who has a long-time sponsor, who is focused and is able to sail well for over a month. It will not be a shocker but someone out of the 25 who can win this year'.

The 2013 Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard cachemire in short

The sailors:
42 entries, six past winners, six non-French skippers, seven newcomers and one female sailor

The race schedule:

May 24th: Boats arrive in Bordeaux (Gironde estuary)
May 25th to 31st: time runs on the river Gironde
June 1st: Prologue Bordeaux - Pauillac - Eric Bompard cachemire

Stage 1 - Bordeaux/Porto (Portugal): 536 miles
Start: June 2nd at 13:00 (start line in Pauillac)
ETA: June 5th

Stage 2 - Porto/Gijón (Spain): 452 miles
Start: June 8th at 12:00
ETA: June 11th

Stage 3 -Gijón/Roscoff: 436 miles
Start: June 13th at 12:00
ETA: June 16th

Stage 4 – Roscoff/Dieppe: 514 miles
Start: June 20th at 13:00
ETA: June 23

La Solitiare website

by Marie Le Berrigaud Perochon


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4:25 PM Thu 30 May 2013GMT

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