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Germany’s Susann Beucke sails her second La Solitaire du Figaro

Germany’s popular 2021 Olympic 49er FX silver medallist Susann ‘Sanni’ Beucke is back for a second La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec challenge. Armed with all the knowledge, learning and confidence that she accumulated over 2022, her ‘Bizuth’ (or rookie) year, as well as winning the second leg of The Ocean Race on the crew of Holcim-PRB, she says she is ready to compete.

“I am in such a different place to last time.” Says the 32 year old from Kiel, Germany who has moved full time to Lorient, “ Last time it felt like I was setting out on a big adventure this time I know what lies ahead, it feels like I am going out to race and I am much more competitive.”

Buecke, skipper of This Race is Female, is confident and focused, not looking to achieve a particular result overall or on a leg, rather to feel she has followed her processes, not made big mistakes and kept fighting to the final finish line of the three stage, three week 1850 nautical miles race between Caen to Piriac-sur-mer via stops in Kinsale in Ireland and Roscoff in northern Brittany.

“ I have worked hard on what were my weaknesses, especially navigation and feel confident but I have not been able to do as much training with the groups as I would have wanted. I took the time to do The Ocean Race and have had a lot of sponsor commitments. I would like to have done more but am ready to go.” She said this week amidst the line up of 32 Figaro Beneteau 3s in Caen on the French Normandy coast.

“I have done many more solo trips and so I feel comfortable on my own. I worked a lot on my speed with my coach Betrand Pacé and feel like I have, improved where I was weak before.”

“The first leg is full of new challenges and with the forecast we have it will be tougher still crossing the Channel three time. But like I keep saying ‘it is the same for everyone’. My aim this time is to really stay with the fleet and concentrate on my speed and positioning, tactics in offshore sailing are what I am learning most about, just learning to stay with the fleet and keep fast.”

Ocean Race Learning Her experience with the Holcim-PRB programme has benefited her in many ways, not least working with and observing how Tom Laperche, last year’s La Solitaire du Figaro winner, operates

“The Ocean Race cost me time but it is was so worth it to learn what it is like operating in a very top level team. Of everything that I learned perhaps seeing Tom (Laperche) how he worked and how he was offshore, looking through the meteo and planning before the race for example, I gained much more understanding of what it takes.”

Beucke is happy to have seen improvements in the offshore races she has done this season, not least the most recent the Solo Concarneau Cuy Cotten, the final dress rehearsal before this pinnacle, three stage 1850 nautical miles race.

She is very driven and focused, looking to launch her own Vendée Globe challenge in due course but meantime see the Figaro as the best training and proving ground.

Looking back at her race last year with the benefit of a year passed she enthuses, “"

"I did a lot of double handed racing because there were a lot of double handed races, the Transmanche En Double, Trophée Laura Vergne, the Tour de Bretagne, and I was most proud of the Solo Concarneau Guy Cotten as it was the first time really in an offshore race that I have stuck with the main fleet all the time, that is the race I have taken most learning so far and for me that was all about my process and why I also have the goal on La Solitaire to stick with the fleet as much as possible. I think it is not helpful to have a position to aim for. I aim to give myself action gains, that is like having the speed and never giving up until the end and the finish line, telling myself everyone will make a mistake. It is easy to get a bit angry with yourself when you make a small mistake after, say, you have been pushing hard for six hours. It is very easy to give up. But I have reminders on my boat everyone is going to make mistakes and that I promise myself to hang in there and give it my all to the end.

Her ambition is the Vendée Globe and the big IMOCA races, “Long term I want to do a Vendée Globe and the Figaro is a great education for it, it is one of the toughest schools in sailing. I think it will prepare me to be a very good offshore sailor. I still feel well in the Figaro fleet but for sure long term I want to gain experience on IMOCAs and launch a project there. Of course on The Ocean Race I was thankful for the opportunity. I was really close to very successful IMOCA team for three months which was great. “