Photos: Alexis Courcoux

Roast beef claims Solitaire du Figaro prologue

Great performance by Alan Roberts

Saturday June 11th 2016, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

For the first time in race history, an Englishman – Alan Roberts (Alan Roberts Racing) – has won the Prologue of La Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro.

This will be the third Solitaire di Figaro for the 26-year-old sailor, and this victory – even if it doesn't count for the overall ranking – reinforces his status as one of the race favourites. Another Brit, Will Harris on Artemis 77, finished first rookie.

Roberts commented: “The goal for me today was to try out my new sails so I was lacking a bit of speed. You had to play with the current on the first reach, so that what I did and it worked out quite well for me. I'm prett happy, it's cool to win here. The last person who won a prologue in Deauville was Jérémie Beyou and he then went on to win the Solitaire.”

Weather conditions were ideal for this warm-up in Deauville waters. After an overcast morning, the sun came out in the afternoon and the light wind demanded concentration from the 39 sailors.

The order established itself within the first metres, with a lead trio pulling ahead - Alan Roberts, Sébastien Simon (Bretagne CMB Performance) and Christopher Pratt (Sourire à la vie). They remained together until the finish line. Behind Roberts was Marseille Figaro veteran Christopher Pratt on Sourire à la Vie, who, despite his project only coming together less than a month ago, came home second with Sébastien Simon on Bretagne – CMB Performance completing the podium.

Pratt said: “It was a great race, everything worked out well. I found myself in a clear zone at the start and manage to match the speed of those around me. That allowed me to have a good upwind reach and to be third around the mark. Then with Sébastien and Alan we managed to take off a little bit. I kept pretty close to them. It wasn't to bad, but there were some little things that have a hard time coming back. I'm still a little tense, not quite relaxed yet. But spending a leg ahead of the fleet is always satisfying. It's always a good thing to start out that way. I notice quite q lot of things speed-wise compared to the other sailors so there will be some readjustments to be done."

Sébastien Simon said: “It was a great day, very successful prologue with sun and nice weather conditions. The conditions were light with not a lot of wind, so quite technical to get the boat moving. For me, things went pretty well, I finished third. It was the last opportunity before the race where we could check that everything was working on the boats. It was nice to get the boats out and see that people had turned out to come and watch us. We've worked all year to get the boat ready and we are proud to be able to show it off today."

Another noteworthy performance of the day was definitely that of Artemis Offshore Academy Will Harris, who won the prologue's rookie ranking. Aged just 22, Harris finished at a very respectible tenth.

Harris said: “It was a very nice way to start La Solitaire. To finish ahead of 29 boats is great news. It was interesting to have that many boats. I've never raced in a fleet this big, so it was interesting for me. We were all close to one another. I managed to finish first rookie and I'm very happy to have achieved that. It's a good sign for the rest of the race.”

Charles Darbyshire, the Artemis Offshore Academy project director, concluded: "Even though the Bompard Prologue doesn't count, we are still very happy to have won a race. It's a good way to send a message to the rest of the fleet. These top British results help to reinforce the twinning between Deauville and Cowes, two towns which will host the start and the finish of the first leg of the 47th Solitaire – Bompard Le Figaro.
“It's only Alan's third Solitaire and we've known for a long time that he is an excellent competitor. This win on the Prologue is the sort of things we were expecting. Even though the Prologue doesn't count, we are still very happy to have won a race. It's a good way to send a message to the rest of the fleet. They know that Alan will be a force to be reckoned with. We are also very proud of Will Harris' performance. He has worked hard and lots of people think he can finish first rookie.”

Bompard prologue results

1.     GBR – Alan ROBERTS (Alan Roberts Racing)
2.     FRA – Christopher PRATT (Sourire à la Vie)
3.     FRA – Sébastien SIMON (Bretagne CMB Performance)
4.     FRA – Alexis LOISON (Groupe  FIVA)
5.     FRA – Gildas MORVAN (Cercle Vert)
6.     FRA – Nicolas LUNVEN (Generali)
7.     FRA – Xavier MACAIRE (Chemins d'Océans)
8.     FRA – Corentin DOUGUET (Sofinther – Un Maillot pour la vie)
9.     FRA – Vincent BIARNES (GUYOT Environnement)
10.  GBR – Will HARRIS (Artemis 77)
11.  FRA – Pierre QUIROGA (Skipper Espoir CEM)
12.  FRA – Thierry CHABAGNY (Gedimat)
13.  FRA – Yoann RICHOMME (Skipper Macif 2014)
14.  FRA – Erwan TABARLY (Armor Lux)
15.  FRA – Damien GUILLOU (La Solidarité Mutualiste)
16.  FRA – Damien CLOAREC (Saferail)
17.  FRA – Anthony MARCHAND (Ovimpex – Secours Populaire)
18.  GBR – Sam MATSON (Chatham)
19.  FRA – Martin LE PAPE (Bellocq Paysages)
20.  GBR – Hugh BRAYSHAW (Artemis 23)
21.  FRA – Aymeric DECROOCQ (Bretagne CMB Espoir)
22.  FRA – Benjamin DUTREUX (Team Vendée)
23.  GBR – Robin ELSEY (Artemis 43)
24.  GBR – Nick CHERRY (Redshift)
25.  GBR – Andrew BAKER (Artemis 64)
26.  FRA – Charlie DALIN (Skipper Macif 2015)
27.  FRA – Arthur LE VAILLANT (Un bateau pour demain)
28.  GBR – Mary ROOK (Artemis 37)
29.  FRA – Marc NOESMOEN (Team Vendée Formation)
30.  FRA – Cécile LAGUETTE (ILONA)
31.  FRA – Yves RAVOT (Hors La Rue)
32.  FRA – Arnaud GODART PHILIPPE (FAUN Environnement)
33.  FRA – Justine METTRAUX (TeamWork)
34.  FRA – Claire PRUVOT (Port de Caen Ouistreham)
35.  FRA – Sophie FAGUET (Région Normandie)
36.  FRA – Arthur PRAT (Les Perles de St Barth)
37.  FRA – Théo MOUSSION (#théoenfigaro)
38.  FRA/TUR – Tolga Ekrem PAMIR (Renoval – 1 jour 1 homme 1 arbre)
39.  FRA – Benoit HOCHART (Presqu'île de Rhuys – Miramar)

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