by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The Figaro Bénéteau class was born to offer a one design platform for solo competition. The premise was inclusion, but the popularity of the French circuit has evolved the boats to be less so, with the third version of the class boat making that certain.
As glorious it has been as a technical development, foiling separates the beginners from the advanced, and it is the advanced that got their way with the Figaro Bénéteau 3 in 2019. A real revolution in the world of ocean racing, it was the world’s first production one-design foil monohull.
So as the Figaro Beneteau class held its 2021 General Assembly on December 9, it should have come as a surprise to no one how the circuit was struggling to attract newcomers. With the number of participants on the circuit dropping, it now had a desire to address this issue.
“It can actually scare beginners who do not necessarily want to learn finding themselves at the bottom or lower middle of the scoreboard,” said class manager Alex Picot in Tip & Shaft, who explains that now with this highly technical boat, the solution is education.
The plan is to launch an Academy in 2022, with the objective to facilitate the integration of new entrants, especially foreigners and women. This will certainly help, but how much? When you have a boat that is hard to sail well, and now requires additional time to sail it better, the class now remains the playground for those who have the resources to invest.
This reality is not unique. While the Figaro Bénéteau 3 has embraced the marvels of design innovation, when the cost in time and money to participate exceeds the pleasurable benefit, people seek alternative activities.