Tomorrow one of the oldest solo races in the world will begin. In Ouistreham Bay at Caen, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Domaine du Mont d’Arbois, from Gitana Team will line up at the start of the 38th Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro at 15:00 hours on Tuesday 31 March. For its 2007 edition, the legendary solo event brings together a large and prestigious fleet of 50 Figaro Bénéteau class vessels. A newcomer to the event like 13 other skippers, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent is up against some formidable opponents and will need of all his humility and enthusiasm for what is the stiffest challenge of his first Figaro season.
Race history and 2007 course
Conceived in 1970 by L’Aurore journalist Jean-Michel Barrault, the event was initially sponsored by the daily before later becoming the Solitaire du Figaro and then adding the name of its current sponsor, Afflelou, in 2003. The race’s monotype nature, the presence of the top solo sailors and its openness to amateurs make it one of the most highly prized sailing events in France.
As it has done since 1970, the Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro comprises 4 stages between France, Ireland and Spain. Covering a total of 1,876 miles, the race involves 13 days at sea for the solo sailors. For the race director, Jacques Caraës, “this year’s race is all about contrasts: there’s a mix of coastal route, short stages that produce bona fide sprints, and one very long more ocean-going stage.”
Stage 1: Caen – Crosshaven (415 miles): start 31 July at 15:00 hrs
Crosshaven, the oldest yacht club in the world, welcomes the race for the 3rd time, after a route taking in a long section of Southern England’s coastline.
Stage 2: Crosshaven – Brest (344 miles): start 6 August
For the second stage, the competitors will round Fastnet Lighthouse before descending towards Ouessant and then the Rade de Brest, where the stage’s finish will be judged. The Solitaire has enjoyed a long friendship with the town, which dates back to 1970 and the first edition of the Course de l’Aurore.
Stage 3: Brest – La Coruna (762 miles): start 11 August
The skippers head south bound for La Coruna in Spain: a 762-mile stage, the longest in the race’s history.
Stage 4: La Coruna – Les Sables d’Olonne (355 miles)
The final positions will be judged in the Vendée, at Sables d’Olonne, after a stage spanning 355 miles. The finish will constitute an important moment for the skippers, who will complete the course of this 38th edition by taking the legendary channel from the Vendée Globe.
In accordance with the monotype rules, all the boats must meet the same technical and safety criteria and are rigorously checked before the start of the race by the chairman of the class rules committee. Domaine du Mont d’Arbois and Thierry Duprey du Vorsent came through this test successfully on 24 July.