For the first time in race history, an Englishman – Alan Roberts (Alan Roberts Racing) – has won the Prologue of La Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro.
It is the third Solitaire 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 of Her Majesty's subject, Will Harris (Artemis 77) finished first rookie.
Weather conditions were ideal for this warm-up in Deauville waters. After an overcast morning, the sun made its way out in the afternoon and the light wind – less than a dozen knots – required a lot of concentration from the 39 sailors.
Hierarchy had established itself from the first meters, with a leading trio made out of Alan Roberts, Sébastien Simon (Bretagne CMB Performance) and Christopher Pratt (Sourire à la vie). They stayed together until the finish line and it was Marseille native Christopher Pratt, despite his project being booked less than a month ago, who would finish second as Sébastien Simon – 26 years of age – completes the podium.
The noteworthy moment of today is definitely the British domination as it is also an Artemis Offshore Academy sailor – Will Harris – who won the rookie ranking. At only 22 years of age, he finished at a very honourable 10 place. In the British camp, there is no need to hide their pleasure.
“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” underlines Charles Darbyshire, the Artemis Offshore Academy project director that is based on the Isle of Wight. These excellent British results are also a good nod towards the twinning between Deauville and Cowes. Two friendly towns who will host the start and the finish of the first leg of the 47th Solitaire – Bompard Le Figaro.
Alan Roberts (Alan Roberts Racing), winner of the Bompard Prologue:
“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 pretty 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.”
Christopher Pratt (Sourire à la Vie), second of the Bompard Prologue:
“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 (Bretagne – CMB Performance), third of the Bompard Prologue.
“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.
Will Harris (Artemis 77) first rookie and tenth overall of the Bompard Prologue:
“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, project director of the Artemis Offshore Academy:
“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.”
Eric Bompard, President of Eric Bompard Cachemire:
“I very much enjoyed the Prologue, it brought up memories from past prologues. It is a real race, with real winners and a real podium. In the past it wasn't exactly the same thing, today we had a nice competition and I liked the fact that it was an English victory. It promises an open race.”
Ranking of the Bompard Prologue
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)