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Nathalie Criou Finishes Solitaire Race

Nathalie Criou at the start of La Solitaire Urgo du Figaro from Pauillac (near Bordeaux) on June 5.

© Alexis Courcoux

Nathalie Criou, who lives in San Francisco and was sponsored by the Richmond Yacht Club Foundation, finished the three-week-long four-leg Solitaire Urgo du Figaro Sunday morning at 12:11 in Dieppe, France. Her chartered 33-ft Figaro 2, Tetraktis, was the final boat to arrive. "I received a ‘tenacity’ award," she wrote in an email to us last night, "mostly because I arrived from Leg 2 in the middle of the night, slept for four hours, and then left again for Leg 3 that same morning. Most people thought I would not sail Leg 3. I arrived so late for Leg 2 because the wind shut down on me and I did 1 knot of drifting for like 8 hours."

On June 15, the fleet of 43 Figaros started Leg 3, a 150-mile loop from Concarneau on the south coast of Brittany back to Concarneau.

© Alexis Courcoux

"The format of this race is amazingly hard — you’re basically sprinting over a one-month marathon," explained Nat. "Every time you sleep you lose a spot in the ranking. So you end up not sleeping. But each leg is several days.

"The most amazing moment is when the entire fleet, skippers, preparateurs, race organizers, press, etc., came to the dock at midnight to welcome me after I finished the race — they were chanting my name. They had a bottle of champagne for me. They hugged me. The winner of the race (Nicolas Lunven on Generali) was there to congratulate me. This happened completely spontaneously and had never been done before except in the Vendée Globe. I was moved to tears. That day I felt that I had officially become a sailor, recognized by the truest and toughest community of offshore solo racers in the world. I had truly come home."

Nat wore her bright orange Giants T-shirt for many of the starts and finishes. She keeps her own Figaro, Envolée, in South Beach Harbor, literally a baseball hit away from AT&T Park.

© Yvan Zedda

Event director Mathieu Sarrot commented at the awards ceremony on Sunday about Nat: "Her participation was not without problems, but she completed the challenge, and her arrival was celebrated by all the other competitors during the night in Dieppe, part of the beautiful images that I’ll retain from this Solitaire." (Pardon our loose translation from the French!) 

For more, see the July issue of Latitude 38, coming out this Friday, June 30. We hope to have a longer report in the August issue.

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