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Back on the 13th March, Alan Roberts was on the pontoons in Les Sables-d'Olonne in race mode, preparing for the first race of 2020, the Solo Maître Coq. Within 48 hours he was on the last passenger ferry out of France.

France was ahead of the UK going into lockdown, the organisers pulled the race and Alan had an 18-hour sail back to his home port which was already shut to all boats except the Figaros returning home. Special arrangements had been made to lift them out. Alan’s Figaro was packed up and left on the hard and the paperwork arranged so he could make his way across France and through the police roadblocks. Arriving at the ferry port, he was told the ferry after his had been cancelled and he was on the last one out of France.

Spending lockdown back in Hampshire, Alan was able to continue his work on developing his navigational and weather skills as well as picking up his naval architecture tools to do some composite design and build and not to mention the copious amount of fitness to keep him busy. The 10 weeks in lockdown is the longest he has spent on land for a very long time. A highlight being a dinghy sail across Chichester harbour when the restrictions were lifted.

Two races then followed, the rescheduled Solo Maître Coq and the Solo Guy Cotten with a Second place finish in the latter. Today though the delivery to the big race begins, The Solitaire Du Figaro.

This year’s edition will include three classic stages of 500 miles or more, and one final 24-hour sprint, with the course taking just under a month to complete. Among the highlights, the Fastnet and Wolf Rock stand out on this racecourse that includes several Channel crossings, the need to deal with the shipping lanes and sandbanks to Dunkirk, and then the rocks and tidal currents down to Loire-Atlantique. The race begins on August 30th.

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