Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour will host some of the world’s top sailors when the 45th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro arrives in the city next June. It’s considered to be the world championships for single-handed yachtsmen and women, one of the main training grounds for the famous Vendee Globe race. Local sailor, Sam Goodchild will be among those taking part. The 24 year-old achieved the best British result since 1975 after finishing this year’s race in 11th place.
Sam Goodchild, sailor: “To have the Solitaire du Figaro come to Sutton Harbour in Plymouth is fantastic news, to be able to sail home in the key event of the season will be exciting. I really hope we can use it as a springboard to increase the awareness of short-handed sailing to the general public in the UK.”
It’s the first time the month-long, four-leg race has ever been to Plymouth. Around 45 sailors, all on identical 33ft boats will arrive in Sutton Harbour at the end of Leg 1 on Wednesday, 11th June. The course and stopover ports change every year. In 2014 the race will start in Deauville in Normandy before crossing the Channel to Plymouth. From Plymouth the fleet will race to Roscoff, then make their way down the West coast of France to Les Sables d’Olonne in the Vendee region before finishing in Cherbourg.
All the stopovers will be announced at the official Solitaire launch in Paris today (Thursday, 5th December). Plymouth’s bid to host the Solitaire was put together by the ‘A Future in Sailing’ consortium working in partnership with Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc. The group, made up of Destination Plymouth, Royal Western Yacht Club, Plymouth University, Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, Horizons Children’s Sailing Charity, Plymouth City Council and Sam Goodchild Racing’s team are working together to promote marine projects in the city.
Amanda Lumley, Chief Executive, Destination Plymouth: “Working with our ‘A Future in Sailing’ local consortium partners we will host an exciting and engaging event in partnership with Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc.With its historic backdrop and vibrant shops, bars and restaurants it is the perfect place for this event. We anticipate upwards of 30,000 people will attend the event during the days it is here from 11th to 14th June and there will be activities for the whole community including music, entertainment and opportunities to view the yachts up close.”
Thousands of people are expected to line Plymouth’s waterfront when the Solitaire fleet leaves on Saturday 14th June. The sailors will begin Leg 2 with a race inside the breakwater, an incredible spectacle with 45 boats racing between Jennycliff, Mount Edgecumbe and the Hoe.
Jason Schofield, Chief Executive, Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc: “It will be an honour to welcome another prestigious sailing event to Sutton Harbour, cementing its growing reputation as a destination of regional and national significance and a jewel in the crown of Plymouth’s waterfront.”
Following the success of the America’s Cup in 2011 it’s hoped the Solitaire du Figaro will reinforce Plymouth’s position as Britain’s Ocean City and one of the leading sailing destinations in Europe, if not the world.