Solitaire du Figaro yacht race will call at Torquay in June 2015
PUBLISHED: 04:00 04 December 2014
Torbay is set to host the UK leg of the famous Solitaire du Figaro yacht race in what promises to be a spectacular event for the region.
The 40-strong fleet of British and French boats and their skippers will call in to Torquay marina in June as part of a 2,000-mile challenge, criss-crossing the English Channel.
It’s only the second time in 11 years the prestigious event - the unofficial world championship of solo offshore sailing - has enjoyed a UK stopover.
Earlier this year, Devon Life featured the Solitaire sailors as they called into Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour to take a break from the gruelling race, which has a massive following in France.
The 2015 stopover is the culmination of months of hard work by the Royal Torbay Yacht Club and Torbay Council who have worked together with Artemis Offshore Academy to secure a bid to become the UK’s host venue.
Today an announcement at the world-renowned Paris Boat Show confirmed their hard work had paid off and that Torbay is officially a world-class sailing destination.
“This is going to be a huge occasion,” says Bob Penfold, Commodore, Royal Torbay Yacht Club. “It’s going to raise the profile of the Bay on the international sailing scene. As a club, we are really excited about this opportunity.”
Organisers are keen to stress that the stopover from 17th to 21st June will delight everyone, whether or not they’re sailing enthusiasts.
A specially created race village in Torquay’s Beacon Quay will allow people to meet the competitors and get up close to the striking 33ft-long yachts.
There are plans for a grand firework display and plenty of entertainment to entertain the thousands of onlookers expected to attend.
The highlight will be the spectacular sight of more than 40 sailing boats with their skippers taking part in a professionals and amateurs race (pro-am) across the Bay.
The fleet will depart for the fourth leg of their month-long race on 21st June after an outdoor multi-faith service of celebration and thanks.
One of the Solitaire sailors is 24-year-old Sam Matson from Exmouth who finished as top Briton overall after crossing the finish line in the race last year.
He featured in Devon Life last June and today told us he was delighted to be calling in to his home county again in 2015.
He says: “I’ve done a lot of training in Tor Bay, it’s a great place for sailing. It’s fantastic that we’re going to be stopping here in June.”
Race organisers said they were pulling out all the stops to ensure the Torbay stopover went down in history.
“Torbay is a world-class sailing destination, “ says Ed Hill, from Artemis Offshore Academy. “It’s such a great venue for what we need. We’re aiming to make this the best ever foreign stopover.It’s not just about sailors and people interested in sailing. This is for the whole Bay. We’re looking to create a really great festival atmosphere on the shore side.”
In January’s Devon Life we find out what the stopover will mean for Torbay and talk to the home-grown sailors taking part in the Solitaire du Figaro.