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Race course for the 55th Solitaire du Figaro Paprec is unveiled




The race course for the 55th Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, which will be contested over three legs between 17th August and 15th September, was unveiled today, Friday, in Rouen, where the race will start. This year’s race comprises an aggregate of 1840 miles of solo racing between Rouen (Seine-Maritime) and La Turballe (Loire- Atlantique), via Gijón (Spain) and Royan (Charente-Maritime).

This will be a demanding race course with a stopover in the rugged north coast of Spain which means a route that the Figaro racers are not so used to.

We take a look at the race course with Yann Chateau, The Race Director for the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec.



Three legs of four days duration

“It is a great race course matching the DNA of the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, with three long 600-mile legs offering coastal and offshore racing. The competitors can expect a wide range of conditions, allowing them to explore a range of areas,” commented Yann Chateau. 

“The Race Directors once again came up with a great race course this year with three long legs, where everything is open and which will require strategic choices, showing off their qualities as sailors and their weather strategy skills. The Solitaire du Figaro Paprec promises a lot of excitement for fans of racing,” said Sébastien Petithuguenin, Head of International Communications, Sponsoring and Patronage for PAPREC.



The first leg will be 615 miles between Rouen (Seine-Maritime) and Gijón (Spain)

After spending a week in Rouen, where the skippers will line up in the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec for the first time in the history of the race, they will then sail down the Seine on a delivery trip to Le Havre on Friday 23rd August. They will stay there until the gun is fired on the Seine Bay on 25th August. The solo sailors will quickly enter into the race with a coastal run and a leg which will require them to remain alert throughout. “The first leg will quickly turn into an offshore race with a start that looks very complicated. Getting away from Seine Bay via the tip of the Cherbourg Peninsula is bound to be technical because of the currents and the tides around the Barfleur Tide Race. They are also going to have to deal with the shipping in the Channel.  The first major technical choices will have to be made as they make their way towards the lighthouse at Wolf Rock. After this mark located off the tip of Cornwall, they will be on open seas with a long 400 mile course to sail down to Gijón, which will be home to the race for the 14th time. The competitors will cross the Bay of Biscay, where they may well have to deal with a low-pressure system or a ridge of high pressure. The finish in Gijón, where the competitors are expected around 29th August could be fairly calm, because of the proximity of the Cantabrian mountains.”

 

The major change this year in the first leg is that it will be backed by the Etape du Solitaire. An idea developed by OC Sport Pen Duick and Paprec, the headline partner for the race, is that it will enable a new generation of racers to appear aboard Figaro BENETEAU 3. This race will in fact take place double-handed from 25th to 29th August 2024, on the same course and the same conditions as the rest of the fleet with a separate start and separate rankings. 


“I am pleased to have been involved in the creation of this leg dedicated to amateur racers sailing in pairs. Our goal is to give young sailors a taste and the possibility of competing in ocean races. For this first attempt, the Race Directors haven’t offered them a lighter version of the race course for the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec. They will be competing in a legendary race across the Bay of Biscay with a large number of strategic options on heavy seas,” added Petithuguenin.



605 miles between Gijón and Royan and a 2nd crossing of the Bay of Biscay as main course

After a few days of well-deserved rest, the Figarists will return to sea and leave the north-Spanish coast to head for Royan, host city for the 2nd time after a successful first stopover in 2022. 

“The second stage will take them across the Bay of Biscay for a second time, this time from west to east, in effect offering varied stages, there will be a special mark to be found after Cape Finisterre if the weather permits, which will make it a quite coastal start to the route with local geographic  effects to manage. The second part of the course, which does not include any waypoints, will be open before a fairly free arrival in Royan. In terms of conditions, it’s quite hard to plan ahead. There are in fact several possible scenarios in terms of weather on this stage, with potentially choices to be made in relation to a ridge axis or the thermal effects on the Iberian Peninsula. You should try not get trapped in a windless zone, especially at night, which happens du to the lee of the high land at the  coasts at this level, and stay right with the main pack. The finish in Royan will potentially be quite tricky, with a relatively strong tidal coefficient.”



© Alexis Courcoux - Départ Royan 2022


Heading for the Loire-Atlantique for the 3rd stage (620 nautical miles) between Royan and La Turballe

The outcome of the 55th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec will once again be decided in the Loire-Atlantique, the region which is a Major Partner of the race….but this time it will be in a new town: La Turballe. “After leaving Royan, the competitors will head for England, passing off the western Sein. They will then have to make a strategic choice depending on the current and the weather to get around Ushant, either via the Fromveur passage, or via the Four at the point of Brittany, a place that is always a bit tricky. They will then continue their route towards Skerries Bank, a port hand mark located to the east of Start Point and negotiate the currents as best they can before returning towards the Breton point where passage will be 100% free. The final finish at La Turballe, where the sailors will be celebrated, will offer a magnificent spectacle!” 




A new poster

The new 2024 poster is designed by Eliott Badique alias Captain Atlas. The poster, which puts the host cities in the spotlight, also uses the strapline of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec: “Here legends are born”.






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