News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery : The last and longest Figaro leg – 825 miles

The last and longest Figaro leg – 825 miles

'La Solitaire du Figaro'   
The third and final leg for the 2008 edition of La Solitaire du Figaro will set off tomorrow from Cherbourg-Octeville to L’Aber Wrac’h in Brittany. The course is 825 miles long from the start all the way up to the Irish Sea, round the Isle of Man and back down to the finish in Brittany.

This is the longest leg in the history of the race. It will be the equivalent to two traditional legs, as the 39th edition will not be stopping in Ireland this year. All the same, the single-handed sailors will spend a long time in Irish waters, as they set course to round the Isle of Man, North-east of Dublin.

Race Director Jacques Caraës runs us through the course that can be divided into four parts: 'Firstly there is a short 1.5-mile inshore course to the Radio France Mark before the open run to the Western Point of Cornwall. Some will sail inshore between Longships and the Scilly Isles; others will prefer to leave the Scilly isles to starboard. We will have simple start procedure and some 15 to 18 knots of NW breeze for the first day', explains Caraës.

The next part is when the fleet sail a Northerly course towards the famous Saint-George Channel, 42 miles wide; it is the narrowest passage between Wales and Ireland. The sailors then leave The Smalls lighthouse, known for its strong currents, to starboard before setting course for the Isle of Man (572 square kilometres and 53 kilometres long) to round it and it on the port side. 'Conditions here will be more tricky as the Météo France forecasts show 20 to 25 knots, gusting 35, strengthening Saturday morning as the fleet is expected at Lands End. This should back to the West and then southwest with the passage of the front providing downwind conditions for the run North,' foresees the Race Director.

The third part will be a straight run South with several options: 'The run can either be along the Irish coast, following the sand banks of Kish Bank, Codling Bank or Arklow Bank. These sand banks are well known for their accelerated currents; or the run can be on the Welsh side, sailing back to The Smalls lighthouse before joining the Celtic sea South of the Saint-George channel. The single-handed sailors will be free to choose how they pass the Scilly isles. Some will pass west whilst others will opt for following the Cornish coast. From Monday, the wind is due to back round to the South and lighten for the descent and veering west for the last part of the race. Continues Jacques.

For the competitors, the Vierge Lighthouse, whose light beam, flashing every 5 seconds, is visible up to forty miles away and from the middle of the English Channel, guide the sailors to the finish. Once completing the 825-mile course, the fleet will reach the pretty and rock strewn harbour of l’Aber Wrac’h.

The course for this final leg, although long is for going to run, for the most part, close to shores. 'It is going to be busy, basically you are in shipping lanes the whole way, the Channel, then round Lands End and the ferries from Wales across to Ireland, so the alarm will come in lots of use', foresees Andy Greenwood on Imtech, one of the few sailors with experience of sailing in the area. 'We are going to have to be extra vigilant and of course we are going to be more tired than on the other legs, but then saying that it should be quite fast and its more comfortable sailing downwind than having to bash your way up in 40 knots', he concludes. 'I think we will have quite a lot of traffic and also have to take into account the wind effects of the land, you can see these on 3D chart but they are hard to anticipate' ponders Liz Wardley, who like most of the skippers, face unchartered territory.

Nigel King, who competed on last year’s edition of La Solitaire has come to Cherbourg on a flying prior to the start on Friday to give some useful information on sailing close to the Isle of Man. Information he carefully gathered from personal experience and also on a recce trip to the area in preparation for the race he would then not do. His fellow training companions from La Rochelle, Gerald Veniard, Didier Bouilfunnelinglard and Frederic Rivet will benefit from this inside knowledge and the tidal and current charts specific to the unfamiliar territory that is the Isle of Man. 'There are various headlands and two particular mountains that produce a funneling effect with the wind and then there are some areas of particularly strong currents on both the North and South sides of the island,' he explains. 'You also need to consider what options there are in terms of security as there are very few places to take shelter and virtually no harbour on the west coast.'

The fleet of 47 boat are due to start in the Grande Rade de Cherbourg at 14:00 local French time Friday 8th of August.

What the skipper’s say:

Pietro D’Alì (McCool): 'I started having problems with my eyes on the first leg and it got worse on the second. I have seen the doctors and was hoping the medicine would improve my condition in time for the third leg. The condition is stable, but there is not sufficient improvement to sail on the third leg. It is very painful and although it affects one eye, the other is also sore. It was a difficult decision and I am disappointed but then I have a busy season ahead of me. The plan is to have lots of rest get my eyes back into shape and then deliver the boat to La Rochelle and on the Med for the Cannes Istanbul race.'

Andy Greenwood (Imtech): 'I have done a few races from Liverpool to the Isle of Man and then a couple of Round Ireland Races. For this race though, we should up closer to the Welsh coastline, passed Cardigan Bay. I remember having similar conditions to those forecast for this race on a delivery trip for the Round Ireland Race when we had 40 knots round Lands End, so it could be quite hairy! We will be relying heavily on the morning weather bulletin and then for once, I will have the shipping news in English, so it should work in my favour for a change! It is going to be busy; basically you are in shipping lanes the whole way, the Channel, then round Lands End and the ferries from Wales across to Ireland. We are going to have to be extra vigilant and of course we are going to be more tired than on the other legs, but then saying that it should be quite fast and its more comfortable sailing downwind than having to bash your way up in 40 knots. I am definitely going to take my spare spinnaker pole! There are some strong tides but it feels nice to go into the race knowing the area having done a fair bit of racing around there and knowing of a few tricks and places where you can make some gains and then also some losses.'

Laurent Gouezigoux (Boistech, 22nd and 11 hours and 27 minutes from the leader):'Once between to Figaro participation I ended up spending 10 months on 'Indomtable', a trawler in the St. Brieux bay. Tanguy Lagadeuc de Dahouet taught and trained me in sailing. With him I experienced 50 and 60 knots of wind, 8 metre waves in the south of Ireland and we would still continue to work…I learnt a lot about the weather and other things. With Tanuy we talked about this leg and he has briefed me a Briton how to tackle the ride up the Celtic Sea and then the St. Georges Channel where you have some strong current and can get fog at times, but also you have quite rough sea, heavy cargo and oil tankers, fishing boats…We have run through a list of places where I should try and get some rest and especially the list of places where I must not fall asleep. We ended up talking for over an hour and half…so there was a lot to say! I am really happy with my 22nd spot on the ranking and am not going start thinking this is it when we still have half the race to do and lots of things can change.'

Isabelle Joschke (Synergie):'The course is really great and I would like to do well. It is long and all the Figaro sailors are going to new t

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson


Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

4:40 AM Fri 8 Aug 2008 GMT

Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on

Related News Stories:

18 Jun 2013  Sail the Northwest Passage on your iPad
17 Jun 2012  IRC National Championship - Ballistic conditions on Day 2 + Video
28 Mar 2012  Solo Offshore Racing - Truant wins first race
19 Jun 2011  Audi Melges 32 Sailing Series overall
08 Apr 2011  Audi Sydney to Newcastle images by Andrea Francolini
06 Apr 2011  RORC Easter Challenge ­- A golden opportunity for sailors
26 Feb 2011  RORC Caribbean 600 coming of age
14 Nov 2010  OPA Offshore Racing Series 2010 - Versus to broadcast series
15 Oct 2009  Rolex Middle Sea warm up Race
21 Jun 2009  Spain's Calima - Javier Pujol winner of the Giraglia Race

News - USA and the World

Starboard Hatteras Wave Jam day 5 by American Windsurfing Tour,

470 Men and Women Worlds - Champions decided in Santander by International 470 Class Association,

2014 Great Lakes Team Racing Championship about to set off
2014 Etchells North American Championship - Day 1
2014 U.S. Multihull Championship - Day 1
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Repechage top four determined in final flight
J/24 World Championship - 35th anniversary preview
470 Men and Women Worlds - Santander medal race line-up confirmed
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Day 8 images by
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Quantum Racing stumbles in coastal race
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Americans ready for 470 medal races
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: Action ramps up with end zone in sight
Big Boat Series - It's not the size, it's the length
ISAF Sailing World Championships Santander - Double French RS:X gold
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Day 8 images by Sailing Energy
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Finn leaders emerge from shifty Santander breeze
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - RS:X winner images by Barbara Sanchez
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Rio 2016 470 spots awarded
52 Super Series 2015 - Outlook looks hot for the 52 Super Series
Starboard Hatteras Wave Jam - Another early start on day 4
ISAF Sailing World - First entry leaves sailor's reputation in tatters
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Four go through to quarter finals
470 Men and Women Worlds - Champs take over leaderboard   
ISAF Sailing World Champ - Buckingham finishes with career-best result   
America's Cup: Oracle's Larry Ellison to step down as CEO   
Classic Yacht Regatta - Sonny takes top classic prize   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Buckingham finishes with career best   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Rio 2016 RS:X spots claimed   
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Leaderboards shaping up in Santander + Video   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Giles Scott continues to extend lead   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Day 7 images by Sailing Energy   
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Laser and Radial winner images by Jesus Renedo   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Medal Race images by   
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Dutch dominate Laser and Radial in Santander   
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Quantum Racing more than doubles overall lead   
J/24 World Championship - Excitement builds for Newport racing   
Volvo Ocean Race - Seb Marsset joins Team Alvimedica   
Fall Seamanship training opportunities at New York Yacht Club   
Rolex Big Boat Series: More images from San Francisco - Final Day   
AWT Hatteras Wave Jam action commences on day 3   
Rolex Big Boat Series: Images from San Francisco - Final Day   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Watch medal races live here   

For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News  

Switch Default Region to:

Social Media





New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World






Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text


Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery


Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery





Privacy Policy



Cookie Policy



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT