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There have been several Irish offshore racing sailors who have been making national and world headlines for some years now, but in recent weeks and months the wave of new enthusiasm for the big ticket events has surged to fresh heights.

One of the stories underlying all this is the potential for a specialist marine industry base in Cork Harbour serving the continuous needs of the most advanced racing machines, and providing a launch pad for global campaigns. The idea has been around for some time now, but as reported in Afloat.ie as long ago as April 1st 2015, while the goodwill may be there, a firm decision is still awaited.

Local minister Simon Coveney has since moved on from the Marine to other Government departments. His present very senior role in representing Ireland through the Department of Foreign Affairs in decidedly turbulent times will mean that the needs of something so difficult to gauge for significant political and economic benefits will scarcely be top priority.

Yet for the many leading Irish sailors – both men and women – who have launched themselves into the decidedly uncertain world of top level professional competition, the problem of resources and facilities to keep the show on the road is always present, and frequently at crisis levels. W M Nixon wonders how there is going to be enough in the sponsorship pot – both nationally and globally – to help them all fulfill their dreams.

On Tuesday, Afloat.ie received confirmation of a “virtual press conference” in Cork, in other words a clearcut announcement that Nin O’Leary’s co-skippering of the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss with Alex Thompson was going to move on to a full-blooded Vendee Globe campaign by O’Leary himself, possibly with a new boat.

coveney thomson hosford2The then Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, Hugo Boss skipper Alex Thomson, and Stewart Hosford at the announcement in Cork in 2015 of a possible international offshore racing hub on Haulbowline Island.

In the meantime, the word on the waterfront is that the two skippers may do the two-handed Barcelona World Race 2018 in the current boat. But beyond that, the campaign plan for the charismatic O’Leary, mentored by Thomson and orchestrated by Stewart Hosford, is rumoured to be the building up of enough resources to keep this boat, yet also build a new one.

This is because the boat is still almost state-of-the-art, she has some features still absent in other boats, and could be serious opposition in someone else’s hands. Thus the ideal scenario is to maintain control of their current technology and design, while moving on to the next stage of development with an even more advanced boat for the Vendee Globe in 2020.

nin oleary3Nin O’Leary – a charismatic figure for Ireland’s younger sailors

We’re talking mega-bucks here, and the relationship with Hugo Boss has been very fruitful, but the elephant in the room - which hasn’t been mentioned yet - is how long will the Hugo Boss sponsorship continue?

This may all become clearer within the next ten days, as Thomson, O’Leary and Hugo Boss are headed for Ireland, with Cork in their sights on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th August, and then they’re in Dun Laoghaire for a very public appearance on Wednesday August 30th, and staying until the Friday, September 1st for the ongoing launch of their new brand Ireland Ocean Racing.

This puts them top of the billboards. But we mustn’t let it blind us to the hopes of other campaigners, and on Thursday of this week, Tom Dolan made his final public appearance in Ireland before returning to France for the countdown towards the start of the Mini Transat 2017 from La Rochelle at the beginning of October.

tom dolan boat4Although Tom Dolan has some sponsorship for IRL 910, there is still a shortfall in funding for the Mini Transat 2017 which starts at the beginning of October from La Rochelle

tom dolan and friends5Tom Dolan (right) and fellow skippers in the Mini 650 class at Concarneau. The camaraderie and mutual help among the sailors contributes to France’s dominant position in short-handed sailing

Although Tom has some support backers whose logos appear on his sails, he makes no bones about his overall situation, as his Pogo 3, IRL 910, currently enters races under the name of “Still Seeking a Sponsor”. Whether his presentation in the National YC on Thursday will turn on any money taps in Ireland remains to be seen, the fact is that it’s in France he makes most impact. But in Dun Laoghaire, his burning enthusiasm left an abiding impression, for although his chosen life-path may be more exciting than running the small family farm in Meath, there are times when it’s a massive struggle.

Tom is one of several Irish international offshore wannabees and established skippers who have made a point of having the cup of coffee with Marcus Hutchinson. Hutchinson has transformed himself from being a young sailor who first learned his craft in Howth into an international sailing campaign management figure who maintains his Irish connections through Kinsale, yet is now a key presence at the French-led cutting edge of specialist offshore programmes.

Marcus hutchinson6Marcus Hutchinson is first Port of Call for anyone seriously contemplating a short-handed offshore campaign

It’s rumoured that in Brittany he has access to a large warehouse full of IMOCA 60s and Open 40s and whatnot. What we do know for sure is that he was very much the background force in Paul Meilhat’s stunning victory in the IMOCA 60 SMA in the recent Rolex Fastnet Race, a neatly-read campaign whose success was highlighted by the inescapable fact that Hugo Boss finished eighth out of the nine IMOCA 60s competing.

SMA with her dagger boards was optimized for windward work, whereas Hugo Boss with her foils most emphatically wasn’t. But while those in the know are aware of this, Joe Public simply sees the final results and takes it from there.

sma fastnet7The Marcus Hutchinson-managed SMA was convincing winner of the IMOCA 60 Class in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017. Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Marcus Hutchinson’s deep well of sound advice is available to those who seek him out, and he is generous with his knowledge and sensible thoughts. Talking to Afloat.ie yesterday morning, he made the point that of the current wave of French superstars in the bigger boats, many have done the Figaro Solo at least a dozen times, and he reckons that setting out to take on the Vendee Globe straight from a career – however successful – in fully-crewed boats, is akin to taking on Everest solo without first trying a few smaller mountains on your own.

The list of those specialist sailors from Ireland who have made a point of seeking advice and assistance at some stage from Marcus Hutchinson is both impressive and fascinating, as it includes Damian Foxall, Justin Slattery, Enda O'Coineen, David Kenefick, Joan Mulloy, Sean McCarter, Tom Dolan and most recently Conor Fogerty.

joan mulloy8Joan Mulloy of Westport in County Mayo has secured a Figaro through Marcus Hutchinson, but still requires sponsorship

david kenefick9David Kenefick of Cork is another solo sailor who was guided into the Figaro Class by Marcus Hutchinson

And a salient fact which emerges in talking to some of them is the thought that while the Alex Thomson/Hugo Boss campaign was impressive, its central ethos of being stand-alone was ultimately counter-productive.

Two of the lone skippers mentioned above went so far as to say that if the Hugo Boss campaign had been prepared to mix it a bit more with the strongholds of French single-handed sailing in Brittany, then they would have won the Vendee Globe instead of coming second.

That’s undoutedly one for the speculation mill. But it gets a certain reinforcement from a statement this week from Nin O’Leary, to the effect that moving the base from Portsmouth to Cork would have the beneficial result of making the major French centres seem more accessible, as there’s almost a feeling of being trapped in the Eastern Solent, whereas in Cork it’s open water – and open thinking - all the way to Ushant and beyond.

This desire for open water and open thinking is spreading. One of the most interesting news items of recent weeks was that Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy hoped to secure a berth aboard Dee Caffari’s Volvo 65 for the up-coming Volvo World Race. Unfortunately the knee injury Murphy exacerbated with a spectacular capsize at the conclusion of becoming the International Moth Women’s World Champion 2017 on Lake Garda has put that idea on hold, but this shift of interest from the grind of Olympic training on a tedious four year cycle to the more stimulating world of big-time offshore stuff, with maior events coming up in rapid succession, reflects a discernible pattern of changing public awareness.

turn the tide on plastic10The new Volvo 65 Turn the Tide on Plastic. Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy had to defer taking up a berth on Dee Caffari’s Volvo 65 because of a knee injury sustained during a capsize in the Moth Worlds at Lake Garda

So Olympic sailing, ever mindful of the need to continue to attract public attention by whatever means, is going to include a test offshore series, probably for two person boats, in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

This is of particular interest to any Irish sailor desperately seeking sponsorship, for the reality is that on our island, there are only half a dozen sports – if that - which are big enough to make an impact on their own. The minority sports - sailing included - only figure significantly in public awareness if they come up in the Olympic searchlight.

That Olympic searchlight in turn encourages others to get involved, thereby stretching the cloak of sponsorship ever thinner. So it will be some time, if ever, before we see a joint approach to the challenge of raising sponsorship for this branch of sailing. And Heaven knows, but it’s difficult enough to get an effective short-handed sailing campaign of international standard up to speed without the endless worry of finding the money. Yet that’s the way it is. But if you really do find the challenge irresistible, Afloat.ie’s advice is to make arrangements to have a cup of coffee with Marcus Hutchinson before you do anything else.

Published in W M Nixon

Royal Cork David Kenefick's Fastnet Race ambitions lie in ruins this evening after a dismasting on his class 40 entry.  It's a disappointing outcome because Kenefick was in the mix in the top five of the ultra competitive Class 40 fleet. 'We lost are mast due to gear failure, Kenefick told Afloat.ie

It's a shock for the Cork Harbour helmsman who last week posted the top Irish result at the Moth Worlds, as Afloat.ie reported here.

'We managed to get the mast back on to the boat and headed into Weymouth, Kenefick told Afloat.ie

Published in Fastnet

A fine turnout of Irish Moth sailors were rewared yesterday with three gold fleet finishes at the high–calibre 220–boat Moth World Championshis on Lake Garda, Italy. Royal Cork's David Kenefick was top Irish with a 31st in the Gold fleet sailing his brand new boat (as Afloat.ie reported previously here). Kenefick was just one point outside the top thirty. 'I'm quite happy with that, lots to work on before the next worlds in may in Bermuda', the RCYC sailor told Afloat.ie.

Next was Irish Moth Champion Rory Fitzpatrick, sailing a County Wicklow design in 35th, the Dubliner was unfortunately forced out of the regatta early after a collision. Olympic Laser Radial Silver Medalist Annalise Murphy was top female in 51st place. 

Among other Irish results, Howth Yacht Club's stand–out youth performer Ewan McMahon had a 23rd and two behind him was the National Yacht Club's Neil O'Toole in 25th. Howth Yacht Club's Alistair Kissane was 56th and Royal St. George Yacht Club's Adam Hyland was 73rd. Another Royal St. George Yacht Club sailor Jim Devlin was a bronze fleet finisher.

Download the official results below at the bottom of this story.

Annalise murphy moth GardaAnnalise Murphy sailed one day with a broken rudder and capsized 'about 50 times'. 'I knew something was wrong but didn't know what! I was actually pretty lucky it didn't completely break off and sink!, the Olympic Silver Medalist told Afloat.ie. Photo: Martina Orsini

Paul Goodison (GBR) smashed it on the final day of racing at the 2017 McDougall + McConaghy Moth Worlds at Lake Garda against the hottest fleet of Moths ever assembled. Goody (to his friends), is the first foiling Moth sailor to win back to back world titles and the result is that much more special considering the high calibre of competition from the most recent top Americas Cup skippers and sailors with more Olympic medals round their necks than any other regatta with exception of the Olympic Games itself!

Moth Worlds GardaPart of the massive 220–boat Moth Worlds on Lake Garda – the largest fleet ever assembled. Photo: Martina Orsini

Going into the final day of racing Goodison begun the day with a 13 point cushion over Pete Burling (NZL) with Iain ‘Goobs’ Jensen with an outside chance of catching Burling.

The weather gods turned it on again for the final day of racing when a light ‘Ora’ started to build from the South around lunchtime and any fluffy little clouds dispersed to leave another fine sunny afternoon for racing.

The Gold fleet was sent out around 1330hrs to race on the South course to complete as many races as possible before the cut off time of 1600hrs. Race 9 of the championship started under the black flag in 12 – 14 knots of breeze with flat water. As usual, the aim was to charge to the Eastern shore and before hitting the rocks in front of the Fraglia Vela Malcesine clubhouse, tack and try to find a clean lane of pressure to get to the top of the course in good shape.

At the windward gates, the breeze was quite soft causing a number of boats to drop off the foils, especially if squeezing round the marks. On the first lap it was Scott Babbage (AUS) leading, followed by the young gun, Gian Ferrighi (ITA) with most of the big names in the top 10. The downwind leg proved a bit more shifty and the pack shuffled. It was Tom Slingsby (AUS) who stayed in the best pressure to take the win from Nathan Outteridge (AUS) with Rob Greenhalgh (GBR) third, Burling 5th and Jensen 6th.

PRO Tim Hancock did a good job of setting up for race 10 under the same conditions. Started under a black flag it was a similar story with slightly different players. The breeze shifted a bit right and begun to drop at the top end causing some competitors to drop off the foils.

At the bottom gate, the action started to unfold, Jensen got round just in front of Slingsby but Slingers dropped off the foils bang in front of Outteridge and Babbage allowing Goodison to slide past inside avoiding the low riders. Burling was also in trouble rounding the opposite gate and dropping off the foils. Greenhalgh was also in a world of pain.

Coming into the finish it was Jensen who crossed the line with a massive lead and a big smile on his face as he closed up the points to second placed Burling to one point. Second was Goodison to all but seal the title. Many competitors had fallen off the foils in the soft patches around the course. Singsby crossed third but Burling was deep in the pack.

With time running out and the breeze getting a bit weak, the PRO announced that the third race of the day, race 11 of the world championship would be the last. The last race would be victory laps for Paul Goodison but the chase for second and third would be decided on the last race between Burling and Jensen.

The last race started in the same light to moderate breeze, 11 – 13 knots from 215 degrees. Again the fleet used the clubhouse shoreline for a flyby in front of the grandstand of supporters. This time it was Tom Slingsby who looked like he had made the right foil choice leading the world champion elect with some of the usual suspects struggling with foil selection. Slingsby cruised across the finish line for a second win of the day with the victorious Goodison crossing in second.

A good third for West Australian, Steve Thomas, Babbage finished a consistent 4th and Jensen in 5th finishing comfortably ahead of his skipper of so many years, Nathan Outteridge. As Burling crossed in a lowly 17th, supporters scrambled for their calculators to do the maths.

 Agonisingly for Goobs Jensen he fell one point short of toppling the kiwi but was very happy with his third place overall. With Slingsby’s final day score of 1,3,1 he held on to 4th and Scott Babbage came back from the brink early in the regatta to snatch 5th off Nathan Outteridge.

The Youth category went down to the wire on the final day with a fine battle between the two Italian twins Gian Marie and Stefano Ferrighi. With an 8th in the final race on Saturday and a 9th today (Sunday), Stefano stole the title from his brother by 3 places. Stefano finished 23rd overall an excellent performance in a fleet of champions.

The Master’s category swung between Jason Belben (GBR) and Rob Gough (AUS) and a similar tussle played out. Rob Gough won this one finishing 25th overall to Jason Belben’s 28th.

First in the female category went to Irish Olympian Annalise Murphy who finished 51 in the Gold group.

The Silver group was won by John Clifton (GBR) and the Bronze group won by Maximilian Mage of Germany.

PRO Tim Hancock and his team did a great job getting through so many races for a fleet of 220 Moths, the biggest Moth regatta ever assembled.

Published in Moth

Royal Cork's David Kenefick has just finished foiling week on Italy's Lake Garda sailing his Full Irish Moth. Kenefick is keeping an eye on the Italian venue given it will host next year's World Championships in 2017 where a fleet of 200 is expected.

The Crosshaven sailor finished 19th out of 43 which is something of a comeback after breaking his rig at the Europeans and missed two days racing earlier this month in France.

'I'm happy as I've only being racing the Moth a few months, with this being my first full regatta', Kenefick told Afloat.ie

'I've a few improvements to make to the boat including a bow sprit and a new foil', he added.

Published in Moth

Former Figaro keelboat campaigner David Kenefick from Royal Cork Yacht Club is back on the water (or is that above the water?) in Cork Harbour. Kenefick is the latest sailor to move to the foiling Moth dinghy that is centred at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Published in Moth

#RolexMiddleSea - Irish solo sailing sensation David Kenefick will be racing in company abroad the Artemis IMOCA 60 that's currently en route to the Rolex Middle Sea Race tat starts on Saturday 17 October.

The Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year for 2013 will be sailing the 606-mile offshore route in a fleet that includes many experienced professionals from the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race, not to mention the record-breaking MOD 70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail.

It's a a veritable best of the best - but Kenefick has demonstrated before that he has the skills to fit right in.

Published in Offshore

#tourofarabia – Cork and Kerry offshore sailors continue a strong performance in the Persian Gulf this week with Damian Foxall's Oman sail/EFG crew outwitting Crosshaven's David Kenefick sailing on Team Averda to lead the Tour of Arabia. 'Brutal conditions' were reported over the course of the latest 1100–mile leg with two boats in the seven boat fleet pushing speedo logs up through the hull in slamming wave conditions. 

A third place in the final leg was enough to confirm Frenchman Sidney Gavignet and his mixed Omani and European team overall winners of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour for the second year in a row. EFG Bank (Monaco) were not the only champions in Bahrain on Saturday however with the new Volvo Ocean Race Rookie Award for the top two Under 30 sailors of the event going to Team Renaissance Omani sailor, Ali Al Balushi and British sailor from the University of Plymouth team, Richard Mason.

A course change from east to west for the 2015 edition resulted in 14-days of testing upwind racing on the six-leg, 760-nautical mile course from Oman to Bahrain. Noted for being one of the toughest on record, the 11 pro-am racing teams with crews from 21 different nations experienced a truly unique, highly competitive, cultural adventure.

Gavignet and crew; Damian Foxall (IRL), Alex Pella (ESP), Nicolas Lunven (FRA), Fabien Delahaye (FRA), Mohammed Al Mujaini (OMA), Abdull Rahman Al Mashari (OMA), and Abdallah Al Shukaili (OMA), sailed an impressive series but they didn't have it all their own way.

They were chased hard throughout by Marcel Herrera and his young student team from Plymouth University on Team Averda, who took second overall, and Zain Sailing Team from Kuwait headed by seasoned Tour competitor Cédric Pouligny with Gérald Véniard navigating, who finished third.

Gavignet was delighted with the result: "It feels good to have achieved the goal we set, we had a great atmosphere onboard, which I believe helped our performance."

"It is clearly harder and longer than previous editions. I believe the tougher it is, the more its reputation will grow particularly for pro Volvo Ocean Race teams looking for a training ground."

The three Omanis onboard the EFG Bank (Monaco) winning team, plus the Omani Renaissance crew and Navy of Oman team are testimony to Oman Sail's vision of developing the region's sailing talent and rekindling its rich maritime heritage through creating role models to inspire the next generation of sailors.

Kerry-born Damian Foxall, Ireland's greatest offshore sailor, was enthusiastic about the progress made: "This event is a good tool to validate the progress of the Omanis. In previous years the crews struggled to visualise what the life of a professional sailor could be like. Now I think they like the idea which helps them progress quicker."

As one of the toughest on record, the 2015 event has endorsed its status as a prime option for professional teams seeking winter training venues and for young aspiring offshore sailors seeking a race that will put them to the test. Volvo Ocean Race recognition of the event as a leading development race for young offshore sailors and the new Volvo Rookie Award for the top two Under 30 sailors has added another avenue of competition. This year's lucky recipients will be flown to Newport, one of the Volvo stopovers for a weekend to watch the in port and pro am racing.

"EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is tough, even for hardened Irish sailors like me," said Foxall. "But the Tour package makes life really easy for teams that want to just turn up and race. You can concentrate on the sailing and not have to worry about boat prep because there's a technical team on hand all the way."

Three members of the Chinese Volvo Ocean Race team Dongfeng used the event as a tool to enhance their performance. Kit Cheng from Hong Kong said: "It was tougher than Leg 3 of the Volvo, so for training purposes, it is perfect!"

Second placed Marcel Herrera, skipper of British boat Team Averda, was thrilled with his result: "This shows consistency and proves that last year wasn't just a fluke. I am very happy with our result."

The all-Omani team who finished fifth aboard Team Renaissance gave an indication of how the Omani sailors have progressed. Their best result was a second place on Leg 5 – the toughest in the five-year history of the event. Fahad Al Hasni, a regular on the Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran and skipper for EFG SATT, said: "We have improved such a lot as a team, and I have every reason to believe we'll be on the podium in 2016."

With more and more teams recognising EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour as a prime event on the global circuit, this unique Middle East sailing adventure is on the brink of progressing to a new level with the potential of an even larger, more competitive fleet next year.

Overall Results

EFG Bank (Monaco) 12pts
Team Averda (UK) 21.25pts
Zain (KUW) 29.50pts
TU Delft (NED) 29.75pts
Renaissance (OMA) 39pts
Al Thuraya (OMA) 41.75pts
Bienne Voile (SUI) 42.75pts
GAC powered by DongFeng (CHN) 44.50pts
OMIFCO (OMA) 64pts
Royal Navy Oman (OMA) 69pts
IMCO (OMA) 70.25pts

Published in Offshore

#SailingArabia – After 21 hours of racing, Ireland's top offshore sailor Damian Foxall on EFG Bank (Oman) has won the opening leg of the Tour of Arabia. Second was Royal Cork's David Kenefck as a driver/trimmer on Team Avera. 

The wind increased to eight knots for a time before the finish for Foxall to cross the line on a close reach with spinnakers up. Although winds remain light, the Race officer is optimistic that all eleven boats will finish within the time limit. 

As Afloat.ie reported a week ago, The Tour is contested in a fleet of Farr 30 yachts and visits marinas in the Arabian Gulf. The event started at Muscat, then follows the fleet to Sohar and around the Musandam Peninsula to the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.

Published in Racing

#lasolitaire – Three winners, five Rookies and counting - 20 skippers registered so far for the 46th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire. The last two editions of the race have featured Cork entry David Kenefick but there is no Irish registration so far but potentially a Rookie entry from County Down. Andrew Baker, a member of the Artemis Offshore Academy, is in the running for a place on the start line, but first he has three practice races to earn his spot. The decision will be announced in May.

And in other exciting offshore sailing news for Ireland, a County Meath sailor has launched a Mini Transat solo sailing campaign for 2015.

With four months to the start of the 46th La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire, 20 intrepid Figaro skippers have signed up to the 2185 mile, month long solo offshore race.

Kicking off on the 31st May from Bordeaux (France), as many as 45 solo skippers and their 33ft Figaro Beneteau IIs are expected to race from the grand city of Bordeaux to Sanxenxo (Spain), Concarneau (France), Torbay (UK) and across the final finish line in Dieppe (France) in July.

This year's early entry list is already evidence of the Solitaire's universal appeal, with registered entrants ranging from race champions and Vendee Globe winners, to talented regulars chipping away at the top 10, rank outsiders and ambitious first timers.

Triple Solitaire du Figaro winner Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) (2005, 2011, 2014) returns to the race in 2015 not only to defend his title, but also with an aim to become the first skipper to have ever won the Solitaire four times.

Making their debut on the Class Figaro circuit in 2015, five ambitious Rookies have signed up for this epic solo marathon so far.

Also joining the fleet but not yet on the list, the Artemis Offshore Academy will contribute as many as three of its talented UK brood to the Rookie fleet. This year British Rookies Rob Bunce, Andrew Baker and Robin Elsey are out to earn themselves a place on the start line. This decision will be announced in May.

Skippers currently registered:

Skipper/boat name/nationality/*Rookie
1. Marc Pouydebat/TBC/FRA/Rookie*
2. Yann Elies/ Groupe Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir)/FRA
3. Jeremie Beyou/Maitre Coq/FRA
4. Benjamin Dutreux/Team Vendee/FRA/Rookie*
5. Gildas Morvan/Cercle Vert/FRA
6. Corentin Horeau/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance/FRA
7. Sebastien Simon/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Espoir/FRA
8. Martin le Pape/ Ovimpex-Secours Populaire/FRA/Rookie*
9. Henry Bomby/TBC/GBR
10. Thierry Chabagny/Gedimat/FRA
11. Adrien Hardy/AGIR Environnement/FRA
12. Alain Gautier/Generali/FRA
13. Tolga Pamir/Un jour un home un arbre/TUR/Rookie*
14. Gwenole Gahinet/Safran Guy-Cotten/FRA
15. Claire Pruvot/Port de Caen-Ouistreham/FRA
16. Vincent Bairnes/Guyot Environnement/FRA
17. Benoit Mariette/TBC/FRA/Rookie*
18. Laurent Pellecuer/TBC/FRA
19. Isabelle Joschke/Generali-Horizon Mixite/FRA
20. Corentin Douguet/TBC/FRA

Published in Figaro

#fullrish – Since my last blog update quite a lot has happened and as a result things have changed for my sailing campaign writes Figaro solo sailor David Kenefick.

As I said, after the Figaro I was tired and I needed to reflect on a lot of things. I needed some time to recover and reflect on the last 18 months of my life, which frankly has been a whirlwind. And luckily I have been able to do just that.

It was wonderful to come home after the Figaro in July and see so many friends and familiar faces and take time away from the campaign. As I set about recovering which, in fact took me about 4-5 weeks I began thinking about the future. It quickly became apparent there were two options: either keep sailing or finish my College course which I left over 2 years ago to take up the 'Full Irish' project.

The sailing option was made of mainly two different options. One of these was the possibility of trying to put together a 2016 Vendée Globe project. The Vendée Globe is a single-handed non-stop around the world race in IMOCA 60 sailing boats. It is the toughest sailing race on this planet and for sure is one of the toughest challenges known to man.

I thought about this project for a long time and even had a few meetings with people about it. It was then up to me to decide if I wanted to put myself forward and tell the world my crazy plans to have the first ever Irish boat in the Vendée Globe. The complexity of a project like this is not simple, while I took time to think there were a number of things running through my mind. Have I enough experience? Would I ever find the money that I needed? Would I be able to do a good job?

As the time came to try to put my young head on old shoulders I felt I wouldn't be able to find the correct ingredients to put a solid and safe campaign together along with the thought that sailing will always be there and there is a business degree to be finished. So it was back to college.

Today was my 10th day of college lectures the day it really hit home how much I'm going to miss the Figaro and how lucky I was to do two years in this tough and amazing fleet. One thing is for sure I've got more hunger than ever to do the Figaro race again but for now sailing is on hold.

I would like to thank all my sponsors and everyone who has helped me. A particular mention goes to Marcus Hutchison who introduced me to the Figaro and helped me so much.

Published in Figaro
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