Sam Davies is one of only three women participating in today's (Friday 23 July) La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro

La Solitaire Afflelou Le Figaro begins today, Friday 23 July, with a prologue race off northern French coast at Caen. This unofficial world championship of single-handed offshore sailing, will have 52 entries on the line for the formal race start on Tuesday 27th July.

Amongst the 52 boats will be Samantha Davies on board Skandia. She will face a competitive race that combines speed and endurance over a 1,476-mile course. Sam is no stranger to the race and competed in her first Solitaire last year as a ‘Rookie’ sailor, finishing in second place amongst the newcomers. This year there will be 17 ‘Rookie’s’ hoping to win the Newcomer Beneteau Trophy, this year sponsored by Skandia.

The race itself is divided into four stages taking the competitors first from Caen (FR) to Portsmouth (UK), and then from Portsmouth to Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (FR). From there the competitors face a tough race across the Bay of Biscay to Gijon (ESP) – northern Spain, before the final leg back across Biscay to the finish at Quiberon (FR). “I am looking forward to going sailing again. The first prologue race tomorrow will be a round-the-cans race in the Bay of Ouistreham just off Caen, this will allow me to get back into the boat’s rhythm and make any final amendments to the boat before Tuesday’s start. But in essence we are ready to begin now,” concluded Sam.

Among the 52 skippers competing this year is Armel Le Cléac’h, winner of the 2003 event. He will face top sailors from the Figaro circuit including Gildas Morvan, Charles Caudrelier, Jérémie Beyou, Romain Attanasio, Ronan Guérin, Jean-Paul Mouren (who has taken part in this event a record 17 times) Erwan Tabarly and Bertrand de Broc.

Arnaud Guillouet returns after a 15-year absence while Halvard Mabire returns after 13 years. Dominic Vittet will also be on the start line eleven years after his victory in 1993.

Sam is one of three women competing in the event. She is joined by Liz Wardley (winner of the Sydney – Hobart 1999) and Marie-Albane Daniel.