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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Wily French Silver Fox Fred Duthil clinches Stage 1 of 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro

by La Solitaire du Figaro 25 Aug 2022 03:57 PDT 25 August 2022
Fred Duthil wins La Solitaire du Figaro Stage 1 © Arnaud Pilpé

At the conclusion of a thrilling match race to the finish line in the bay of Port La Forêt, Brittany, after nearly 560 nautical miles of solo racing, 48 year old French veteran Fred Duthil (Le Journal Des Enterprises) narrowly won Stage 1 of the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro which had started last Sunday afternoon from Saint Michel Chef Chef at the mouth of the Loire.

Clinching his fifth stage win of a La Solitaire career which stretches back to 2004, Duthil crossed the finish line at 10:04:59hrs CEST/France, just one minute and one second before 37 year old debuting rookie,Davy Beaudart(Nautymor) who had held a tiny lead going into the final hour of the course. A small navigation error by the rookie let Duthil through. Philip Hartz (Marine National Fondation de la Mer) took a close third at 10:09:05hrs.

After Duthil broke ahead of his rival at around three miles from the finish line when Beaudart headed for the wrong buoy, he was then able stifle Beaudart, covering his each and every tack, on a winner-takes-all upwind sprint in flat water and 10-12kts of wind.

Stage 1 Provisional Results:

1 Fred Duthil (Le Journal de Enterprises) finished 10:04:59hrs in 3 days 18hrs 24mins 59secs
2 Davy Beaudart (Nauty'mor) 10:06:00hrs 3d 18h 26m 00s + 1min 1 sec
3 Philippe Hartz (Marine National Fondation de la Mer) 10:09:05hrs 3d 18h 29m 5 s + 4mins 6 secs
4 Jorg Riechers (GER, Alva Yachts) 11:10:36hrs 3d 19h 30m 36s +1 hr 5 min

All rankings at

Winning move

Last night Duthil adjusted his route to sail west, offshore through the Ushant TSS exclusion zone, an initiative typical of the solo skipper who has four La Solitaire podiums to his name - and who won the final stage of the 2020 race by virtue of with a similar move. He, Beaudart and Hartz were rewarded for their offshore move with more breeze. At some points Duthil was between two and four knots faster than his rivals. Just before midnight last night he was 23rd nearly seven miles behind the leader Nils Palmieri (Teamwork).

After finishing, a relaxed, relieved Duthil smiled, "It is great, it is good but very hard. Everyone is on such form that you are spending hours and hours fighting to make 50 metres here and there. And then you have an option like that pay off. It was a complicated stage. I lost a bit to start with and to the TSS at the Scillies it was hard to catch up. I had prepared well and the option was something I had looked at with my routers before the start. It was a scenario with the fronts coming in from the west. When I head the weather I knew it was on. I hesitated a bit because it was all about getting through the TSS to get back. But I worked to find the exit of the front. It was very interesting."

Of the match race with Beaudart who missed a buoy in the final miles which let him through, Duthil said, "It was hard coming into the bay I was second but he missed a buoy and I got through. But in 2005 arriving to La Rochelle i forgot a mark one mile from the finish and it is a hard memory as it was Pietro d'Ali who won the leg. But he was fast last night and ahead of me."

On target to finish fourth Germany's Jorg Riechers (Alva Yachts) had lead of six miles over the fifth placed racer with six miles to the finish line when the podium finishers had crossed the line at around 1000hrs this morning. Riechers, on his second La Solitaire challenge after a 15 years break, also made big gains in the last 16 hours of the race. Thirty second placed last night at 1800hrs CEST, Riechers, 53, was one of the first to head sharply west and looks set to be first international, non French finisher.

Beaudart, who may be a first timer on La Solitaire but the boatyard owner-manager from Hennebont west of Lorient, has more than a dozen Mini650 class successes garnered between 2001 and 2018. This La Solitaire du Figaro is only his third race in the Beneteau Figaro 3 class but he is a superb technican and a long time friend and co-skipper of Louis Burton in the IMOCA class.

He said: "It is super highs and low for me, super high to have been leading the group but a bit of a low to finish second. I made a cock up. I should have crossed first. I am pissed at myself. But I am super satisfied with the option I chose back there. It paid off. I gave it my all on the descent. We had a blast. We made incredible tacks! It was great. It's unexpected. I don't think I could have hoped for that. This is only my third Figaro race. I am totally new to the circuit. I don't know how to interpret all this."

He recalled, "We were a group of four boats. We lost one along the way but we fought from yesterday until this morning. I passed Fred in the early morning under Penmarc'h and he passed me again. It's super intense. It's La Solitaire, that's how it is. It's great. Don't ever give up. I've been at the helm for the last two hours I haven't slept."

Stop press: Germany's Jorg Riechers (Alva Yachts) took fourth at 11:10:36hrs.

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