In the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro, there were Pol Roger champagne showers and tears on the docks in Dieppe (France) last night, as the event concluded for the 41 skippers competing. The final 520 mile leg in big breeze from Roscoff to Dieppe via the south coast of England was won by French sailor Adrien Hardy in a time of 2 days, 9 hours, 2 minutes et 20 seconds; however, it was Leg 4 runner up and 2012 Solitaire du Figaro champion Yann Elies who clinched the overall 2013 win, making it two in a row for Yann on his fourteenth participation in the Solitaire race.
The Solitaire du Figaro is renowned for its demanding nature and for the caliber of the competitors that sees the very best offshore solo sailors with the likes of Vendée Globe competitors Michel Desjoyeaux, Armel Le Cleac’h, Yann Elies and Jéremie Beyou battling in supremely close quarters.
The end of the prestigious four-stage race also saw two top results for the Artemis Offshore Academy and British solo offshore sailing. At 2228 BST, Shelterbox-Disaster Relief skipper Sam Goodchild became the highest-ranking British Solitaire du Figaro finisher in the modern history of the race. Finishing eighth, 11th, 14th and 13th over the four legs resulted in Sam finishing the race in 11th overall.
Twenty-two year old Academy skipper Jack Bouttell also made race history last night, after finishing Leg 4 in 21st putting the Artemis 77 skipper in 21st overall and, more importantly, clinching the overall Rookie division win by a solid 4 hours 9 minutes and 28 seconds – making Jack the first British skipper to ever have won the ‘first timers’ division overall. Sam and Jack’s performance over the 1,938 mile race is been a testament to their dedication to the Figaro over the past year and to the Artemis Offshore Academy, with Jack succeeding in the Academy’s objective to see one of its sailors topping the Rookie division podium.
'It's a 50/50 love hate relationship when you’re sailing the Figaro, but when you finish it's absolutely incredible. I've had a lot of memorable experiences and I have learned a lot, the Solitaire du Figaro has just been unreal,' enthused winner Jack shortly after treating his supporters to not one, but two Pol Roger Champagne hose downs on the dock. 'I didn't really think that top Rookie would happen for me at the start because there are a lot of other good guys here, but I just plugged away and kept at it and it worked out well.'
The final 520 miles of the four stage race saw the race weary skippers taking a beating along the south coast of England, with 30-40 knots of wind and choppy seas leaving them little time to sleep, eat or do anything except hoisting and dropping spinnakers and hang on.
'The last 36 hours was just relentless in terms of pushing your boat and pushing yourself, our home waters were not kind to us this time,' reported a bleary eyed but smiling Sam after earning himself the desired best of British title. 'It was the hardest leg of this race for sure and one of the hardest legs I've done in the Figaro. That final stretch along the south coast was just 160 miles of reaching with the spinnaker up, so I'm not disappointed to have finished.
'I'm pretty happy with my result, finishing this leg 13th isn't bad at all and setting a top ranking British position is the icing on the cake really.' Topping that icing with a cherry, Sam is now also the proud new owner of the Patton Harken Regatta watch after his performance earned him the Academy Patton Challenge win.
Magma Structures skipper Nick Cherry also surpassed his own expectations, adding 16th after Leg 4 to his trio of top teen results to see the Brit finish 17th overall, improving on Nick’s 2012 Rookie performance by eight places. Fellow graduate and RockFish skipper Henry Bomby was happy to get his feet back on dry land, coming home in 24th to see him also finish 24th overall. After a fairly disappointing end to Legs 1, 2 and 3, Henry was happy to get off the boat but content with his final performance and already looking forward to next year: 'I think I sailed a bit better over this leg. I’ve just finished my second Solitaire du Figaro at the age of 22 and that’s pretty cool and I’m looking forward to next year, actually, that’s a lie. Maybe in a week or two I will be!'
Similarly for Academy Rookie Ed Hill, the cruel mistress that is the Solitaire did not quite go the way he had hoped, but on finishing Leg 4 Ed’s spirits were not dampened: 'I’m just happy to have got here and finish the race, which you can see from the damage and retirements has been a tough one. I’m so grateful to have been given this opportunity.' The final British skipper to cross the Solitaire du Figaro finish line in Dieppe in 30th, saw Ed finish the race 29th overall and fourth Rookie – not a result to be sniffed at on only his first Solitaire attempt.
Currently sleeping and eating and then eating and sleeping some more, the British Solitaire du Figaro skippers will not know what to do with themselves without another routing to study or forecast to consider, as all of their efforts over the past six months now come to a close with the final Solitaire du Figaro prize giving on the 27th June.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Sam, Nick, Jack, Ed and Henry and fancy your chances on the Solitaire du Figaro start line in 2014, why not put your metal to the test over the Artemis Offshore Academy three day Selection Trials. For 2013, the UK based trials will be held over the 18th-21st July, two months earlier than previous years. Application will close on the 28th June. Apply today.
Sam Goodchild: 'The best part of my race was also the hardest part, sailing down the south coast of England under the spinnaker in around 30-40knots of wind. It's always nice to sail through home waters, though it wasn't very kind to us this time - the wind was relentless for about 12 hours. Leg 4 was definitely the toughest leg and really showed us how easy we had it over the first three legs. I am surprised at how much my performance has progressed since the 2012 race, I did not think that I'd do this well and setting a top ranking British position is the icing on the cake really.'
'It was the hardest leg of this race for sure and one of the hardest legs I've done in the Figaro. That final south along the south coast of England was just 160 miles of reaching with the spinnaker up ragged us quite a bit, so I'm not disappointed to have finished. I'm pretty happy with my result, finishing this leg 13th isn't bad at all.'
'I think I've had a fairly average amount of sleep, but the last 36 hours was just relentless in terms of pushing your boat and pushing yourself, I can barely move my wrists . It's not just been being awake, it's been trimming the sails and kite up, kite down - so I'm pretty pleased to be on the dock right now.'
Jack Bouttell: 'One of the most memorable moments is racing downwind in 30 knots with the kite up, absolutely bricking yourself and some of the least memorable are when you have no wind, or you're going upwind for hours. One of the hardest bits of Leg 4 was the first bit around Ouessant, just hours of rock dodging in thick fog.'
‘It was a race of two halves, firstly tacked close to rocks in thick fog on the coast of France to some pretty big breeze on the south coast, 30 - 40 knots from downwind to reaching.'
Nick Cherry: 'It was the toughest leg yet, pretty wild. A high point for me was rolling Sam along the south coast. I reached inside the hatch to film it on my Go Pro and did a chinese gybe.'
'I had no breakages over the leg despite the strong winds, Damien's dismasting was a little unnerving, but I still kept the kite up all the way down from Lizard. I did a bit of sleeping on the reach across the finish, but other than that I can't remember the last time I slept. I'm really happy with my result, I think I sailed well in three of the four legs and definitely improved on last year.'
Henry Bomby: 'It really wasn’t pleasant onboard during the last leg with the wind and the rough sea state, but then I think we did deserve a bit of that as it had been too smooth sailing until this last leg.'
'I’m feeling happy and think I sailed a bit better over this leg. I’ve just finished my second Solitaire du Figaro at the age of 22, that’s pretty cool and I’m looking forward to next year, actually, that’s a lie. Maybe in a week or two I will be.'
Ed Hill: 'I was on the foredeck, changing the jibs over and the boat broached out and I think I caught my spinnaker in the pole ring and I think the pole ring had half ripped off and a rivet was loose which caused it to rip, because normally that kite is bomb proof. So that was a bit of a pain and it took me a little while to sort out because half of it went in the water. Then I had a dilemma – do I put the big kite up and risk blowing that or not and you look and there is still 70 miles to run to the Needles Fairway so it was a no brainer – you‘ve just got to put it up and hope for the best. '
'I had a good start to this leg and then sailed into a hole, which I’m pretty good at doing now. I’m just happy to have got here and now finished the race. I’m so grateful to have been given this opportunity,'
Leg 4 results
Postion/Skipper/Boatname/Time at sea
1. Adrien Hardy/Agir Recouvrement/2 Days, 9 Hours, 2 Minutes And 20 Seconds 2. Yann Elies/Groups Queguiner - Leukemia Hope/2 Days, 9 Hours, 5 Minutes And 9 Seconds 3. Xaviere Macaire/Skipper L'herault/2 Days, 9 Hours, 18 Minutes And 32 Seconds 4. Yoann Richmomme/Dlbc/2 Days, 9 Hours, 25 Minutes And 16 Seconds 5. Morgan Lagraviere/Vendee/2 Days, 9 Hours, 40 Minutes And 47 Seconds 6. Jeremie Beyou/Maitre Coq/2 Days, 9 Hours, 44 Minutes And 4 Seconds 7. Armel Le Cleac'h/Banque Populaire/2 Days, 9 Hours, 44 Minutes And 4 Seconds 8. Michel Desjoyeaux/Tbs/2 Days, 9 Hours, 56 Minutes And 51 Seconds 9. Anthony Marchand/Bretagne Credit Mutual Performance/2 Days, 9 Hours, 59 Minutes And 13 Seconds 10. Corentin Horeau/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Espoir/2 Days, 10 Hours, 19 Minutes And 51 Seconds 11. Gildas Morvan/Cercle Vert/2 Days, 10 Hours, 20 Minutes And 31 Seconds 12. Julien Villion/Sexio Habitat/2 Days, 10 Hours, 28 Minutes And 5 Seconds 13. Sam Goodchild/Shelterbox - Disaster Relief/2 Days, 10 Hours, 28 Minutes And 43 Seconds 14. Thierry Chabagny/Gedimat/2 Days, 10 Hours, 32 Minutes And 15 Seconds 15. Alexis Loison/Fiva Groups/2 Days, 10 Hours, 36 Minutes And 45 Seconds 16. Nick Cherry/Magma Structures/2 Days, 10 Hours, 48 Minutes And 58 Seconds 17. Jean-Pierre Nicol/Bernard Controls/2 Days, 10 Hours, 56 Minutes And 20 Seconds 18. Nicolas Lunven/Generali/2 Days, 10 Hours, 58 Minutes And 33 Seconds 19. Frédéric Duthil/Sepulmic/2 Days, 11 Hours, 2 Minutes And 0 Seconds 20. Fabien Delahaye/Skipper Macif 2012/2 Days, 11 Hours, 6 Minutes And 30 Seconds 21. *Jack Bouttell/Artemis 77/2 Days, 11 Hours, 17 Minutes And 25 Seconds 22. Frédéric Rivet/Dfds Seaways/2 Days, 11 Hours, 46 Minutes And 22 Seconds 23. Thomas Ruyant/Destination Dunkerque/2 Days, 11 Hours, 58 Minutes And 42 Seconds 24. Henry Bomby/Rockfish/2 Days, 11 Hours, 59 Minutes And 43 Seconds 25. Nicolas Jossier/In Extenso Accountants/2 Days, 12 Hours, 9 Minutes And 19 Seconds 26. Matthieu Girolet/Lafont Pressse/2 Days, 12 Hours, 9 Minutes And 24 Seconds 27. *Simon Troel/Les Recycleurs Bretons/2 Days, 12 Hours, 14 Minutes And 43 Seconds 28. *David Kenefick/Full Irish/2 Days, 12 Hours, 18 Minutes And 14 Seconds 29. *Benoit Hochart/Adocis/Ib Remarketing/2 Days, 12 Hours, 22 Minutes And 8 Seconds 30. *Ed Hill/Artemis 37/2 Days, 12 Hours, 24 Minutes And 24 Seconds 31. Amaiur Alfaro/ Region Aquitaine / Ateliers De France/2 Days, 15 Hours, 29 Minutes And 40 Seconds 32. Gilles Le Baud/Carnac Thalasso & Spa/2 Days, 16 Hours, 10 Minutes And 51 Seconds 33. *Claire Pruvot/Port De Caen Ouistreham/2 Days, 16 Hours, 42 Minutes And 36 Seconds 34. Jean Paul Mouren/Groupe Snef/2 Days, 17 Hours, 51 Minutes And 38 Seconds 35. Didier Bouillard/Jehol/Rtr 36. Damien Guillou/La Solidarité Mutualiste/Rtr 37. Vincent Biarnes/Prati'bûches/Rtr 38. Joan Ahrweiller/Region Basse Normandie/Rtr 39. Paul Meilhat/Skipper Macif 2011 40. Yannig Livory/Thermacote France/Rtr
See the Leg 4 results here, the Ooerall 2013 Solitaire du Figaro results here and the Rookie results here