Please select your home edition
Edition
Noble Marine 2019 - Leaderboard
Product Feature
Upffront.com - Karver KFS5+ Continuous line, top-down furler
Upffront.com - Karver KFS5+ Continuous line, top-down furler
Boat Insurance from Noble Marine


Full racing risks
New for old cover
www.noblemarine.co.uk

The Figaro circuit: The final necessary step before racing IMOCAs?

by IMOCA Globe Series 2 Jul 06:50 BST
50th Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro © La Solitaire 2019

The 50th Solitaire Urgo-Le Figaro finished last Wednesday after a fourth and final leg won by Eric Péron, which confirmed Yoann Richomme's overall first place.

With hardly any time to get over this fourth leg, which was just as exhausting as the previous ones, a few skippers, who race in both the Figaro and IMOCA circuits looked back at this 2019 edition in which they took part. You really have to be an expert in Figaro racing to come out? on top in the Solitaire, and for the IMOCA skippers returning to the Figaro circuit, it was not the easiest of tasks. What are the similarities and differences when racing on the little boat (a Figaro) in comparison to on a big one (an IMOCA 60)? Do you really have to go through the Figaro circuit to win in major IMOCA races? Is it very hard to go back to a Figaro after racing on an IMOCA? We put these questions to Yoann Richomme (1st), Michel Desjoyeaux (12th), Yann Eliès (16th), Jérémie Beyou (20th) and Thomas Ruyant (38th)

With a few months left to go to the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre and just over a year to the Vendée Globe, and with most of the new IMOCAs not yet in the water, the 50th Solitaire du Figaro offered some IMOCA skippers an opportunity to see how they measured up against Figaro racers. It was a way to measure their physical condition and their endurance levels.

The overall winner of the 2019 Solitaire, Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Groupe - Groupe Télégramme) could not hide his pleasure and praised the class and his new Figaro 3: "I really enjoyed myself with this new boat, thanks to which the class is going to become very important. In terms of the standard, nothing compares to the Figaro... It teaches you all about commitment and is a great school to learn more and make progress. Moving up to an IMOCA is quite logical in my opinion and I still hope to be there at the start of the Vendée Globe next year."

The winner of the last Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe in Class40 will now continue to train on an IMOCA with Damien Seguin alongside whom he will take part in the Rolex Fastnet Race in a month from now before competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre in the autumn.

For Thomas Ruyant (Advens - La Fondation de la Mer): "The Figaro is the Olympics of ocean racing. Performing well on a Figaro is proof of your talent and that talent can be applied on an IMOCA..., but for me it is not compulsory to go via a Figaro. Many of the big names like Jean-Pierre Dick, Bernard Stamm and Alex Thomson to mention just a few, did not need to compete in the Figaro circuit to get where they are today. Just doing the Figaro is not enough either. You need to have done other stuff such as the Mini or Class40, as these are just as important if you want to prepare for a move to IMOCA racing."

Figaro racing to perform well on an IMOCA

Twice winner of the event (2009 and 2014), Jérémie Beyou (Charal) says openly and loudly: "You really have to be up for it. You don't compete at such a high level if you are not motivated. The Solitaire is a reference in terms of preparation. Personally, it takes me two or three years to find the pace again and sail like a true Figaro racer. I won the Solitaire on two occasions, but it took me four years to get my second win. The 2019 race is no different. It really was an exercise for experts. You just have to look at the list of the first ten places. To win you have to be 100% a Figaro racer."

After a fortnight's holiday, the skipper of Charal will be back out there training double-handed with Christopher Pratt, with whom he will line up at the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

For Michel Desjoyeaux (Lumibird), three times winner of the event (1992, 1998, 2007), who was very pleased with his 12th place this year, "It doesn't make any sense racing an IMOCA, if you haven't raced a Figaro, as the biggest group of top class racers competes. Gaining experience of Figaro racing is something you simply have to do if you want to perform well in the Vendée Globe. Having said that, you have to understand there is a difference when you move to an IMOCA, as she is a much bigger boat, which is heavier and more powerful, so preparing is a highly technical affair." Yann Eliès (StMichel) shares this opinion, declaring, "Going through the Figaro circuit is practically compulsory if you want to win in the IMOCA circuit. The Figaro is a condensed version of what you experience on an IMOCA, especially with the new boat. Racing in the Figaro class complements IMOCA racing, as you don't get to spend enough time out on the water on an IMOCA and the Figaro enables you to maintain your level and continue to make progress. This year's race was complicated for me. I thought I would end up much higher in the overall rankings. I wasn't fresh enough for the race, and every leg was difficult. I may return next year, but for the moment, I'm busy looking for a partner for The Ocean Race, which really attracts me, and for the 2024 Vendée Globe."

Returning means accepting the danger

"Sometimes it can be good to start to question yourself and put yourself in danger in the Figaro circuit," explains Yann Eliès, " as the exercise is very tricky and the standard very high. This year only one of us handed in the perfect exam paper..." He was thinking of Yoann Richomme, who paid homage to all the IMOCA skippers, who return to the Figaro circuit. "I imagine it must be very hard for Yann, Jérémie, Armel and Mich' to return to the Figaro circuit, where everyone can come a cropper very easily. You need to be strong psychologically to know how to deal with that."

Related Articles

11th Hour Racing gets feet wet with podium finish
Enright and Bidégorry race IMOCA 60 in Défi Azimut 48-hour race After launching their campaign this summer, the 11th Hour Racing Team, led by Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, have been focused on learning how to race the IMOCA 60 - the fast, foiling, high-performance, development class Posted on 16 Oct
Groupe Apicil set for the Transat Jacques Vabre
Damien Seguin and Yoann Richomme aiming to be the first of the non-foilers To start this series, we look at a pair that has had a lot of practice. Damien Seguin and Yoann Richomme (Groupe Apicil) will set off for their third Transat Jacques Vabre together after competing on a Class40 on two occasions (2011 and 2013). Posted on 15 Oct
Ysbrand joins Pip Hare for Transat Jacques Vabre
An important qualifying stage for Pip's bid to compete in the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe With thousands of miles on his CV, Ysbrand has sailed a huge range of yachts from Mini 6.50s to Volvo 70s, and is no stranger to single- and double-handed racing. Posted on 12 Oct
Bekking sets sights on 9th campaign with Childhood
A veteran team has come together to launch a Swedish campaign in the VO65 class Bouwe Bekking, an eight-time veteran of The Ocean Race, has announced a new project with an eye on competing in the 2021-22 edition of the Race. Posted on 12 Oct
The Ocean Race: Still turning the tide
Dee Caffari talks about her plans for the next edition of the Race Former The Ocean Race skipper Dee Caffari talks about ocean health and her plans for the next edition of the Race. Posted on 10 Oct
North Sails Weekly Debrief
Azzura wins Super Series, IMOCA & HELIX, Glenn Cook joins North, A conversation with Ken Read We predicted the 2019 52 Super Series would be the most competitive season to date, and in the end, Azzura was on top. Posted on 6 Oct
More competitors at the start of the Vendée Globe
The number of candidates - 34 so far - already represents a first record for this 2020/2021 edition Ever since its creation, the Vendée Globe - a sailing race round-the-world, solo, non-stop and without assistance - has been an essential reference in the world of offshore sailing. Posted on 3 Oct
60 IMOCA sailors ready for Transat Jacques Vabre
The line-up brings together people from various backgrounds and with various ambitions Thirty IMOCAs will line up for the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre - a record. That means sixty sailors (including seven women and sixteen non-French sailors) will be doing battle over the 4350 miles separating Le Havre from Salvador da Bahia. Posted on 2 Oct
Charal shines in 2019 Azimut Challenge in Lorient
With just over a month to go to Transat Jacques Vabre, the event was a test for many of the boats There was a lot to see at every level and the weather conditions were ideal. Out of the twenty boats ranked at the finish, there were 12 foilers and eight non-foilers, three of which made it to the top ten. Posted on 25 Sep
11th Hour Racing Team in the Azimut Challenge
Podium finish in team's first official race This past week marked the first official race for 11th Hour Racing Team in the Defi Azimut (Azimut Challenge) out of Lorient, France a city 40 miles south of where the team has been training for the Transat Jacques Vabre Posted on 25 Sep