Ben Beasley Kiwi rookie ready for La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec

Ben Beasley Kiwi rookie ready for La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec

Ben Beasley Kiwi rookie ready for La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec


23/08/2023 - 12:01

When young New Zealander Ben Beasley starts the La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec this Sunday from Caen on Normandy's Channel coast it will fulfil the first part of a long held dream to complete the toughest multi stage one design offshore race there is. A talk given at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron by fellow Kiwi Conrad Colman after his 2016 Vendée Globecemented Beaseley's idea of moving to France to compete in the world's top solo offshore races.

Now the 23-year-old from Auckland follows Colman to become only the second New Zealander to take on La Solitaire, the fundamental difference between the two Kiwis being Beasley is very much a true solo offshore rookie ashe competes against 10 other 'Bizuths' over 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. When Colman raced La Solitaire in 2019 he had already completed three racing circumnavigations.

Last year Beasley accompanied Brit David Paul as his preparateur on La Solitaire du Figaro,learning the ropes. Now he is back with his own campaign 'Ocean Attitude' named to publicise an  influential community trying to highlight the environmental and climatic situation and ocean health.

Lined up on the dock in Caen this week along with 32 other Beneteau Figaro 3s, Beasley has completed the first major task, getting to the start line.

He enthuses, "La Solitaire feels like it has been a long time coming.I started renting the boat in February and so it is a long journey to get herebut I feel I am well prepared, as much as I can be and am ready to go."

Even so he is very much on a shoestring budget which means his training has largely been on his own rather than with any of the established French 'poles' or training groups. Consequently his main goal is just tocomplete all three stages and realise the first part of his dream.

He recalls, "I have always wanted get into solo offshore sailing. I did a lot of two-handed sailing back home in New Zealand which was the best things I could do then, like the Round North Island (a three stage race of over 1100nms) and races like that.  The next step moving forwards was moving to France and doing the Figaro and here I am. All the top guys train and race on the Figaro."

Beasley grew up in Auckland and started sailing at 'try sailing'  day at his local sailing club.

"My parents, who are non-sailors, took me down to a 'have a go' day and I was hooked. I went through the clubs moving from Optimist to 29er to theStarling and P Classes then moved to the Yacht Squadron's training programme.Then I managed to buy my own boat an Elliot 7.9m (Moving Violation) which Imanaged to race Round North Island when I was 19."

His Kiwi sailing contemporaries have pursued the more regular racing pathways, none have followed his course into solo sailing,

 " I have always wanted to race offshore solo. It is so tough and hardwhen you finish it feels such an achievement." He highlights.

He has completed the key qualifying regattas such as the Gascogne 45/5from La Rochelle and the Solo Guy Cotten and the two handed Laura Vergne Trophy.

"I think this year is just going to be about finishing the whole race.The calibre of the fleet is so high. If there was a battle with one or two boats along the way that would be great but finishing it would be a greatachievement to go forwards from." Beasley suggests, "This season I am financingit largely myself. I have a couple of smaller sponsors in Primero Profiles asteel cutting company and Wine Auctioneers. Hopefully for next season I can find bigger sponsors."

A crash in the Tour de Bretagne race jeopardised his season and the boat required a major repair

"I really thought that was my Solitaire over there and then, but Imanaged to get the boat fixed on time and I chartered another boat for the GuyCotten to qualify."

He knows how disciplined he needs to be, doing so is another story. "I think key is really to try and be on the ball as much of the time as possible.That means managing your sleeping, eating, drinking enough water, all the time."

And while he has no preparateur per se for the race, his parents will be on hand to help.

"I have only just managed to scrape through. I have been doing most things myself. They were not sailors but have not had much choice other than toget involved. Dad is pretty practical and good at helping out."

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