Conceived in 1970 by L'Aurore journalist Jean-Michel Barrault, the event was initially sponsored by the daily before later becoming the Solitaire du Figaro and then adding the name of its current sponsor, Afflelou, in 2003. The race's monotype nature, the presence of the top solo sailors and its openness to amateurs make it one of the most highly prized sailing events in France.
As it has done since 1970, the Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro comprises 4 stages between France, Ireland and Spain. For the race director, Jacques Caraës, “this year's race is all about contrasts: there's a mix of coastal route, short stages that produce bona fide sprints, and one very long more ocean-going stage.”
Stage 1: Caen – Crosshaven (415 miles): start 31 July at 15:00 hrs.
Crosshaven, the oldest yacht club in the world, welcomes the race for the 3rd time, after a route taking in a long section of Southern England's coastline.
Stage 2: Crosshaven – Brest (344 miles): start 6 August.
For the second stage, the competitors will round Fastnet Lighthouse before descending towards Ouessant and then the Rade de Brest, where the stage's finish will be judged. The Solitaire has enjoyed a long friendship with the town, which dates back to 1970 and the first edition of the Course de l'Aurore.
Stage 3: Brest – La Coruna (762 miles): start 11 August.
The route was modified just before the start because of dangerous weather conditions in the Fastnet zone. The leg has been reduced to 560 miles with a direct descent down La Corogne.
Stage 4: La Coruna – Les Sables d'Olonne (355 miles).
The final positions will be judged in the Vendée, at Sables d'Olonne, after a stage spanning 355 miles. The finish will constitute an important moment for the skippers, who will complete the course of this 38th edition by taking the legendary channel from the Vendée Globe.
In accordance with the monotype rules, all the boats must meet the same technical and safety criteria.