Cutting Their Teeth

By Lyn HinesLa Rochelle, FranceLa Solitaire du Figaro, three stages long and 50 boats strong—sailed single handed in purpose-built boats—finally got a start over the weekend after a dreary, windless and rainy postponement. Conditions were opposite to the windy, sunny prologue last week, won by the “Green Giant”, Gildas Morvan, who is a favorite to win again despite
Author:
Publish date:

By Lyn Hines

La Rochelle, France

La Solitaire du Figaro, three stages long and 50 boats strong—sailed single handed in purpose-built boats—finally got a start over the weekend after a dreary, windless and rainy postponement. Conditions were opposite to the windy, sunny prologue last week, won by the “Green Giant”, Gildas Morvan, who is a favorite to win again despite his superstition that it is bad luck to win the warm-up race.

The VIPs on the sponsors' boats weren't too disappointed, and our driver literally pulled out his fishing pole when he saw blips on the fish finder. Sorry, no luck.

When the wind did pipe up to all of 5 knots, everybody was on the line and a few— over. Tough way to start or restart a light-air race, but they have 465 miles to Vigo, Spain.

This is the 39th edition of Solitaire du Figaro, previously raced under a ton rule, then Figaro, and now raced in a strict one design Figaro2 class. There were 100 Figaro2's built in 2002 to the same specs. The boats are 35 ft, 3,056 kg, 1,100 kg of water ballast, and strictly controlled for weight, movable objects and required security equipment. Security includes a wireless hockey puck, which controls self steering, while gybing for example, but also sets off a command to turn the boat, a VHF alert, and GPS localization, if the puck is outside a 30 meter range.

Starts and destinations change. After a 4-5 day layover in Vigo comes a 590-mile leg to Cherbourg, in Northern France. Finally, it will be an 825-mile jaunt around the Isle of Man back to L'Aber Wrach in Brittany.

This event is where solo sailors of all nationalities “cut their teeth”. Of 50 competitors, 2 dropped out at the last minute because of sponsor complications, 12 are “rookies”, 4 are women, and 5 are “foreigners.” Meaning not French. They're expected in Vigo as soon as Tuesday.

There's more on the official website: lasolitaire.com.

(And there are Lyn Hines starting line pics on Kimball Livingston's blog)

Related

Before-and-after-1_silo

Know How: Cleaning Stainless

Without a doubt, the best way to “clean” stainless steel parts is to have them electropolished. Electropolishing is an electrochemical process that cleans the stainless and removes any surface iron particles, leaving a shiny and far more rust-resistant surface. The downsides of ...read more

catstory

Cruising: Sailing With a Young Family

The dark is alive when you are surrounded by water. Black is tinted blue and silver, and sky meets surf with electricity and the lapping sounds of silence. Inside our 36ft catamaran, moored off Cooper Island in the BVI, the raw nature outside, just now settling down from a late ...read more

IslandPacket349

Boat Review: Island Packet 349

After years of quiescence in the wake of the Great Recession, iconic Island Packet is back with its new 349, a re-boot of the old Estero that not only looks great, but takes the Island Packet style of sailing performance to a new level. Design & Construction First among the many ...read more

190219NEEL51

Video Tour: Neel 51 Trimaran

At this past fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, SAIL magazine had a chance to corner Neel Trimarans founder Eric Bruneel and have him give us a tour of the accommodations aboard the new Neel 51, winner of the “Multihull over 50ft” category in the 2019 Best Boats contest. For a complete ...read more

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more