Solitaire du Figaro starts Sunday for solo offshore Artemis skippers
Saturday, 23 June 2012
The three British up and coming solo offshore sailors will start the 1,432 mile Solitaire du Figaro on Sunday at 1200 (BST) from Paimpol, France. Rookie’s Henry Bomby and Nick Cherry will be racing alongside Sam Goodchild who is returning for his second participation. The longest of the three legs is the first from Paimpol, France to Gijon, Spain taking the Artemis sailors 504 miles over three days of racing including crossing the notorious Bay of Biscay. Battling fatigue and sleep deprivation these sailors will sleep for no longer than 20 minutes at a time, whilst having to keep their wits about them to make difficult tactical decisions to be in the mix of this highly competitive 37 boat fleet.
Rookie sailor Nick Cherry can’t wait to be on the start line: “I’ve been building up to this event for a long time. It’s my first ever Solitaire but I’ve done my homework so I’m ready. With only a couple of days to go I’m starting to get nervous but in a good way I hope. I saw the build up to Leg 1 last year and know what a big deal it is around here so to be here is a dream come true.”
Fellow Rookie Bomby talks us through the first leg: “The first part of the leg is close to the Brittany coast, which will require lots of race strategy and course changes that will probably result in little sleep. However, unless a group get away through a tidal gate in Chanel du Four or the Raz de Sein, I feel the race could be won and lost later in the leg in the Bay of Biscay. So conserving as much energy early on will be critical.”
With the start of the first leg just two days away more reliable weather forecasts are available and a more in depth strategy can be planned: “We may be looking at a windy first 12–18 hours but that will drop rapidly and the majority of the leg will be in light winds including trying to cross a area of no wind in the Bay of Biscay,” reports Goodchild. “This could open up some opportunities for tidal gates along the Brittany coast, so staying with the leaders will be key for a good result.”
Artemis Offshore Academy event coach Marcus Hutchinson reports from the Solitaire du Figaro in Paimpol, France. Having competed in this race not just once but twice before, there is no better person to be guiding the Artemis solo offshore sailors to the starting line.
Marcus Hutchinson update:
The three Artemis Offshore Academy boys vying to become men are pretty ready at their own levels for what is about to happen. Sam Goodchild, the veteran of 35,000 miles at sea, at 21 he competed in the race before and, other than a recent dislocated shoulder, has done as much as he can to prepare his boat, sails, navigation and mental state. He will be fast at times and will, baring disasters, make it to the top half of the fleet this year.
Nick Cherry has managed recently to get his pacing right and should be able to be quick along the way. As a top match racer he has sometimes got a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, not always a good idea when sailing by yourself, but other times he has shown that he has worked it all out and simply gets it right tactically, speed wise and mentally. Henry Bomby is a dark horse. Sometimes I worry about him and other times I wonder if I’m watching the revelation of 2012. Time of course will tell and we have three weeks ahead of us to watch how these three fine young men will tackle arguably one of the toughest sporting challenges that sailing has to offer.
We are now two days from the start of Leg One. It looks like it will be a classic Figaro leg rolling everything into one stage. A bit of North Brittany coast, a cold front to sail through, the Raz de Sein, rock hopping against strong Spring tides, and then a long stretch across the Bay of Biscay to Spain with a ridge to cross at the same time for good measure. Read the his full blog here.
The start, live on local and regional TV, will happen at 1300 local time (1200 BST) but the moment the warps are dropped on Sunday morning at around 0930 the solitude begins. The 37 skippers entered have to handle the next three hours of their day alone waiting for the start.
See Le Figaro images
Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 June 2012 )