Torbay places bid to host solo sailing ‘world championships’ in 2015

The town of Torbay is currently in the running to host the UK leg of the Solitaire du Figaro race in 2015 – a 2000 mile solo yacht race, unofficially known as the world championships of solo offshore sailing.

The Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire to give its full title, is a sailing endurance race divided up into 500-mile legs between several European host ports. Now in its 46th year, the race draws only the best sailing talent to its start line, and attracts sailing fans and the general public alike to its bustling race village.

Recognising the race as an opportunity for increased tourism, international publicity for the town and community involvement, the Royal Torbay Yacht Club and Torbay Council have been the driving force behind the host venue bid – hoping to see the Solitaire du Figaro sail into the Bay between the 17th and 21st June. As well as helping to boost the profile of the town, the arrival of the Solitaire du Figaro will mark another significant chapter in Torbay’s rich maritime history, the Bay hosting the 1948 Olympic sailing competition.

“The Royal Torbay Yacht Club is proud to be associated with and pleased to be supporting the bid to secure Torbay as the 2015 UK stopover for La Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire, the premiere single handed yacht race,” detailed Bob Penfold, Commodore of the Royal Torbay Yacht Club. “The club has a long history in hosting major international sailing events and looks forward welcoming the international fleet to the sailing waters of Torbay during June of next year.”

Exciting, dynamic and highly competitive, the Solitaire du Figaro is one of the world’s toughest sporting events. The Artemis Offshore Academy, the UK’s only training centre for British solo sailors, has been working closely with Torbay representatives to successfully prepare the town for the race.

“The bay will become an important training ground for the British fleet in 2015 and the skippers won’t just be in Torbay for the race, the Academy squad will be visiting at least twice before June next year” continued Charles Darbyshire, Artemis Offshore Academy Sailing Team Manager. “The work of the Academy, to develop British solo sailing talent, can’t be complete without also developing the training and racing locations around our coast. If Torbay’s bid is successful for 2015, I hope it will become a regular feature on the solo sailing calendar. With it’s excellent facilities, safe environment and good transport links, Torbay is an ideal location for racing and training.”

Training and supporting British solo competitors since 2010, Artemis supports eight UK Solitaire competitors, including well-known southwest Solitaire competitors Sam Goodchild (Falmouth), Sam Matson (Exmouth) and Henry Bomby (Dartmouth) – with Henry and Sam Matson now training for the race in 2015.

“It is a great feeling knowing that the British presence on the Figaro circuit is being recognised by the UK’s top sailing venues and has led to the involvement of another UK town looking to hold a Solitaire stop over in 2015,” Sam Matson of Ottery St Mary explained. “Like Plymouth, Torbay is another port close to home and an area I have spent a lot of time sailing in since a young age. Having my neighboring ports hosting stop overs provides a great opportunity for me to bring local sponsors and media into the world of international offshore racing in an attempt to promote the sport and rebuild a strong nation involved in offshore racing.” Sam finished the 2014 Solitaire du Figaro 15th overall and second Rookie after wining the class on his arrival in Plymouth.

Henry Bomby (Kingswear) continued, “I learnt to sail on the river Dart and have been training out of Torbay for the last two months in preparation for the 2015 Solitaire. I have had so many people come up to me on the dock to say hello and wish me luck for the season, so to bring the race back here would be absolutely fantastic. Torbay is a fantastic place to train, a small bay which is very protected but at the same time you can be straight out to sea and get offshore conditions very quickly. All my sponsors outside of the Artemis Offshore Academy are from the area, so to bring the race here after three years competing on the Figaro circuit would be awesome. To have two UK stopovers in two years I think shows the impact Brits are now having on the circuit, we now make up a quarter of the fleet and if this increase in offshore sailing in the UK is to carry on growing, a UK stopover each year is absolutely essential.” One of the youngest sailors in the fleet, 23 year old Henry is gunning for his fourth Solitaire du Figaro attempt.

If the town’s bid is successful, Torbay will be announced as the 2015 Solitaire du Figaro UK host port on Tuesday 4th December.

Torbay’s Mayor and Leader, Gordon Oliver, said: “Torbay is established as a wonderful events destination on a national and international level, so I welcome the news that we are in the running to host the UK leg of the Solitaire du Figaro race.  These types of events bring great economic benefits and helps to showcase the Bay as a great place to live, work, visit and invest in.”