The 54th la Solitaire du Figaro Paprec fleet lined up in Caen

Photo ©Alexis Courcoux

The 54th la Solitaire du Figaro Paprec fleet lined up in Caen Photo ©Alexis Courcoux

Sunday sees start of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec is opened


26/08/2023 - 17:01

After a week in Caen, Normandy, the 32 competitors competing in the 54th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec will head out on to the English Channel on Sunday to make ready for a challenging first leg to Kinsale, Ireland.This first of three legs starts off Ouistreham at 1302hrs local time.

Caen – Kinsale, multiple challenges, multiple fronts
The first stage of this Solitaire du Figaro Paprec 2023 starts from the Côte deNacre crosses the English Channel three times before rounding the Fastnet Rockand heading into the beautiful Irish haven of Kinsale.

"This will be a very varied, challenging stage with lots oftwists and turns." Says Yann Chateau, race director who has drawn a course which mixes coastal passages before a more open, offshore  passage across the Celtic Sea to Ireland. .

As they start this 610 miles (1,130 km) long leg the 32 soloopens with a short, inshore preliminary  course,for the Trophée Paprec, which is designed to salute the city of Caen which has hosted the start week .

The stage should begin with a northwesterly wind of 12-15knots as they reach across the Channel to Nab Tower where they turn west past the Isle of Wight. An occluded front – the first of three - is likely to see the breeze drop away here and make it difficult as they near the Needles Fairway mark.From there they head for the Héaux de Bréhat at the northern tip of Brittany. As tiredness starts to bite decisions need to be taken how to deal with thecurrents and the maritime traffic.

"Tuesday, we are expecting the arrival of a depression which will pass in the North of the British Isles during the day of Tuesday. This newsystem will bring a sustained flow from the South, strengthening up to 25 knotsas it turns right to settle in the North-West. But then the scenario becomesmore uncertain. The models still diverge a lot on the conditions of this end of the course in the Celtic Sea, around the Ireland of and the Fatsnet that thefirst should wind between Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning," comments Yann Chateau.

It seems likely then that this will be a course full ofopportunities right to the finish.

They said :

Tom Dolan IRL(Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan): "For the past week, Ihave been trying not to think too much about the finish line of this stagewhich takes me home to Ireland. It's a stage just like the others with theweather and the competitors to manage but I really try not to lose focus bythinking too much about the final result and where we are going. Three occludedfronts will pass over the fleet between here and Ireland. We will race mainlyupwind, but we will also have to manage shifts in the wind, especially when wehave to negotiate the TSS (traffic separation scheme) of the Scillies. We couldsee the fleet heading in all different directions. This will certainly be a keymoment, just like the Needles which we risk passing right through the front, thenwith light winds with a lot of current. And plenty can happen there, just likein West Scilly. Also when to really aim for the Fastnet, the timing of thatmove, might prove key.

Guillaume Pirouelle (Région Normandie), 2nd participation:"The day before a start, it's always a mix of impatience and apprehension. But I know that once the start is sounded I will be in my race, well concentrated.I'm not more worried than that. The stage will be quite complex with weather which will change and evolve a lot, with passages of frontsgenerating rather uncertain conditions. You have to think carefully and be opportunistic. You will have to find yourself in the right package. We will sail mainly upwind. We won't be taking out the spinnaker much, but that's notso bad. Around the Isle of Wight there won't be much wind and you won't have toget trapped. And we will also move towards increasingly high tidal coefficients. And that's not counting with the edge between Brittany and Ireland which will be open to options. If I have already been to the Fastnet, Iwill surely be happy to get there at the end of this stage which will allow meto discover a little more of the Irish coast. »

Susann Beucke GER (This Race is Female), 2nd participation:"I feel very good. This is the big difference from last year. Now I have a trainer and I have already raced. I'm going to the first stage with a morecompetitive mindset than last year. We will have very varied conditions: wind,no wind and transitions. I'm glad that's the case. It will be interesting. As aresult, I want to stay with the fleet to continue learning and progressing".


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