55 competitors, 3 foreigners and 15 rookies for the 40th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro. From Lorient to Dieppe passing by La Coruña in Spain, Saint Gilles Croix de Vie and Dingle in Ireland, the 2009 edition of La Solitaire will compete over 1,706 nautical miles. The 2009 line-up is unquestionably/indisputably one of the finest in the history of the race.
More than ever, tactics, determination and audacity will be essential to shake off competitors, all of them greatly talented. Sport, fine stories of sailors at sea as well as ashore… all is set to celebrate in style the 40th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro, created in 1970 by Jean-Michel Barrault and Jean-Louis Guillemard.
Jacques Caraës, race director: “To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the “beautiful dame” that is La Solitaire is behaving well and will take place ‘position closed' with an exceptional line-up. 6 previous edition winners will be racing, and obviously will present serious competition in the naval battle. There are many others capable of gaining a place on the podium: Gildas Morvan, recently winner of the BPE Transat, in second place last year in La Solitaire, will not let his competitors get ahead of him.
Without a doubt, the 40th edition of La Solitaire is marked by the sportive quality of its competitors. A combination of old veterans, still in the vanguard, such as Yann Eliès who has won two races in the pre-season.
The youngest this year are highly ambitious – following training without respite in their respective training centers – they will present serious competition, without forgetting the numerous rookies eager to prove their worth. So who will receive the gallantries on this fine anniversary of La Solitaire? Potentially, over half of the competitors can aspire to mounting the podium.
The comeback of the great men
This anniversary edition offers an incredible line-up. Six old winners and five Vendée-Globers, all the big names in sailing are meeting this summer. Firstly, Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia), triple winner of La Solitaire, is back with a single aim: to enjoy himself! Armel Le Cléac'h (Brit Air) and Jérémie Beyou, winners of the 2003 and 2005 editions respectively, are not keeping any secrets: they want to win the 40th edition! Likewise for Nicolas Troussel (Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne), who will attempt to go down in history with a triple victory.
But he will have to reckon with Yann Eliès (Generali) who for the past few weeks is making a comeback in with a vengeance on the Figaro circuit. He has never won the La Solitaire (he came 2nd in 2004). Eliès will do everything possible to win the ultimate title. Also in the vanguard is Charles Caudrelier Benac (Bostik), winner in 2004, who is having a fine start to the season. As for Eric Drouglazet (Luisina), with 16 participations and a victory in 2001, he has not yet said his last word!
The confirmed figarists
Racers committed to the Figaro Bénéteau will not be missing the event. Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) – 2nd in 2008, Frédéric Duthil (BBox Bouygues Telecom) – 2nd in 2007, Erwan Tabarly (Athema), Gildas Mahé (Banque Populaire), Gérald Véniard (Macif), Nicolas Bérenger (Kone Elevators), Thierry Chabagny (Suzuki Automobiles), Armel Tripon (Gedimat) and the “King” that cannot be dethroned Jean-Paul Mouren (M@rseillentreprises) who will be participating in his 23rd Solitaire, will all attempt to add their names to the prestigious list of winners!
The young talents of the Class
Undoubtedly the excitement is guaranteed! The likes of Thomas Rouxel (Défi Mousquetaires), Nicolas Lunven (CGPI), RonanTreussart, François Gabart (Espoir Région Bretagne), Adrien Hardy (Agir Recouvrement) and others will once again be proof of the talent and determination that will mark the 40th edition which already promises exciting new developments.
As for the girls, Isabelle Joschke (Synergie) will be the sole representative of the female class but the young Franco-German will know how to secure her place among her competitors during her 2nd Solitaire.
The rookies, newcomers
There is always more talent to be discovered on La Solitaire, with 15 rookies this year. Notable, the English Jonny Malbon (Artemis Ocean Racing), the Vendée-Glober who will sail his first tacks on La Solitaire this summer. Without forgetting Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham), Mathieu Girolet, Cristophe Espagnon (Groupe Legris Industries) and Louis Duc – all of them have excelled already in their respective domains.
The passionate amateurs
Thibaut Houéry (Viria LCN), Christophe Rateau and Patrice Bougard (Kogane), who is back for his 7th Solitaire, are amateurs and come to live their dreams on the race. To push themselves beyond their limits and to race against the best for a summer, this is also part of the spirit of La Solitaire.
What fine sailors on this edition which already promises to be exceptional! The line-up of La Solitaire will have rarely been as varied. With over fifteen potential winners, one would have to be extremely audacious to dare to predict which competitors will be on the podium of the 40th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro. The event will start with the Suzuki Prologue in Lorient on 28th July, gathering the prestigious competitors of the classic summer race.
The important dates of La Solitaire du Figaro 2009
Village opens: Thursday 23rd July
Suzuki Prologue: Tuesday 28th July
Start of the 1st leg: Thursday 30th July
LA CORUñA (345 miles)
Organisers arrive: Friday 31st July
Expected arrival of the boats: Saturday 1st August
Start of the 2nd leg: Tuesday 4th August
SAINT GILLES CROIX DE VIE (365 miles)
Organisers arrive: Wednesday 5th August
Expected arrival of the boats: Friday 7th August
Start of the 3rd leg: Monday 10th August
DINGLE (485 miles)
Organisers arrive: Tuesday 11th August
Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 13th August
Start of the 4th leg: Sunday 16th August
DIEPPE (511 miles)
Organisers arrive: Monday 17th August
Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 19th August
Closing Regatta: Saturday 22nd August