Light winds promised for La Solitaire du Figaro start

The 34 skippers of the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro and their Figaro Beneteau 3s left Nantes on Saturday at lunch time local time to sail down to Saint-Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire, where they will dock for the night, making ready for tomorrow’s start off Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef at 1540hrs local time.

Winds for the start of the 644 miles Stage 1 north to Skokholm island off Wales Pembroke coast look set to be light, the precursor to what looks like a complicated leg with many transitions and several small weather features to negotiate.

New Race Director
Yann Chateau, 43, is the new Race Director of La Solitaire du Figaro, taking charge of this edition after the baton was passed from Francis Le Goff, with whom he served as Assistant for many years.

Chateau is an accomplished offshore, inshore and small boat racer who comes from the Normandy region. He is a past European match racing champion and has 12 podiums under his belt in the French national championships.

The Frenchman started sailing on the Seine with his older brother Cédric out of Reine. After racing with Cedric, he started coaching at his local club and then moved to the training centre at Le Havre where they coached a 14-year-old Charlie Dalin.

Dalin told Tip & Shaft earlier this summer, “ He is one of those who helped me grow as a dinghy. Later, he was also quite present with the Normandy Elite Team project group launched in 2014 by Francis Le Goff to help young sailors progress.”

He progressed his technical and race management skills at the Normandie League. At the same time from 2004 he went offshore with the Tour Voile competing five times. As a math’s and numbers geek he increasingly gravitated towards navigation and weather. He has been the race navigator on the Paprec TP52 Spirit of Malouen and now on the Wally 105 of the same name.

Having been in the shoreside Assistant role in recent years there is little doubt Yann Chateau is looking forwards to being on the water, making decisions from his position in close proximity to the fleet. As a racing sailor he enjoys and benefits from empathising with the solo racers on the water, living the legs with them.

“I like to be inside their heads and understand exactly what they are living and being able to react accordingly.” Says Chateau.

Chateau says, “The conditions will be quite calm at the starts with a moderate to weak wind flow from west to south-west between 6 and 10 knots. The boats will move west and west of Sein with a first night that is still fairly calm. Then, they will progress a little more quickly towards the Celtic Sea in winds of 10 to 15 knots.

“For the moment, there is a little uncertainty on the return with a transition phase which is not well modeled “

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