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Following last year’s performance of ‘Flying Irishman’ Tom Dolan and pioneering woman Joan Mulloy in their Solitaire du Figaro debuts, now the renowned solo offshore race is coming to Ireland.

The Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is set to return to Kinsale this summer for the first time since 2009 for its 50th gala edition, with a course that takes in a rounding of Fastnet Rock to Kinsale on the weekend of 8-9 June to end its first leg out of Nantes.

The racing fleet continues on a “marathon run” around the Irish coast through the Irish Sea, around the Isle of Man and back down the west coast of Great Britain to Roscoff in northern France.

Stage three is a loop of ‘La Manche’ back to Roscoff before the final stage, via Wolf Rock and the Isle of Wight, to Dieppe. In all the course covers 2,130 miles (not accounting for weather-related changes).

Tom Dolan has already pledged his return for his second Figaro, this time in his new Figaro 3 boat, while the presence of Joan Mulloy — Ireland’s first female entry in the race — will further buoy Irish interest in the challenge as it takes in our coast.

Dolan tells Afloat.ie that he is “itching to get going after three months of computers and meetings!”

Solitaire 2019 route

Race organisers add: 

The Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is set to enter a new era this year, with the introduction of the new Figaro Bénéteau 3 for the 50th edition of the annual solo sailing race. Starting from the French city of Nantes on June 2nd, 2,130 nautical miles of challenging offshore racing around some of Europe’s roughest waters await the Figaro skippers, including a return to Ireland with a stopover in Kinsale.

Owned and organised by OC Sport’s French subsidiary OC Sport Penduick, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is one of the world’s toughest sailing competitions. Fiercely competitive, the race is recognised as the unofficial world championship of solo offshore racing, with the course taking just over a month to complete. Requiring a unique skill set, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro pushes competitors to the edges of their physical and mental limits.

OC Sport Pen Duick Event Director Mathieu Sarrot commented: “This anniversary year of the Solitaire is set to be an historic edition and we are expecting a diverse fleet including previous winners and new comers to the new Figaro Bénéteau 3. This means the stakes will be high with everyone out to prove themselves in a new boat.

“On the water it will be particularly challenging,” Sarrot continued. “To be successful the competitors will need seasoned offshore experience as well as coastal knowledge. But also sheer grit and determination. With the ongoing support of our title partner URGO, it’s set to be an incredible 50th edition."

The fleet will start leg 1 under the striking bridge of Saint-Nazaire following a passage through the river Loire from the historic city of Nantes in Brittany. After rounding Île d’ Yeu, they will head across the Celtic Sea before passing the legendary Fastnet Rock and heading to the port of Kinsale, Ireland. At 500 nautical miles, the fleet will be immersed in a tough race from the off with a drag race through potentially choppy seas to keep the solo skippers on their toes before they arrive in Irish waters.

Speaking on behalf of the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business, Board Member Ciaran Fitzgerald and Chairperson Guny Patel commented: “Kinsale Chamber is delighted with the announcement that the 50th Anniversary of the prestigious La Solitaire Le Figaro yacht race has been awarded to Kinsale for June 2019.

“This is an amazing event for Kinsale to host and welcome back having hosted this world famous single handed race more than any Port over the 50 years of the race. Kinsale Chamber looks forward to welcoming the sailors and visitors for what will be an incredible spectacle on sea and land over the five days of the stopover. Congratulation to Enda O'Coineen and his team for bringing this event to Ireland.”

Expected to arrive in Kinsale on Wednesday 5th June, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro fleet will stay in Ireland until Sunday 9th June, when the skippers will set sail on the longest 630-nautical mile Leg 2 to Roscoff in northern Brittany. In a first for the Figaro fleet, this marathon stage will take the skippers along the stunning Irish coast and through the unpredictable, and at times dangerous, Irish sea before rounding the Isle of Man. A long descent along the rugged western Welsh coast, followed by a passage between Land's End and the Scilly Isles, before a crossing of the English Channel towards Roscoff will conclude what is sure to be a gruelling leg.

From Roscoff, the fleet will stay in the familiar waters of Brittany where they will tackle a 450 nautical mile coastal course that will require them to use all of their technical and tactical prowess in the strong tidal currents, before returning to Roscoff on Wednesday 19th June.

To end the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, the increasingly exhausted fleet have a double Channel crossing to contend with. At 500 nautical miles, the final leg will see the competitors leave Roscoff on Saturday 22nd June to head across the channel towards Land’s End via a starboard rounding of the south cardinal navigation mark off Portsall. From there, they will have to negotiate the difficult conditions along the south coast of England before skirting the Isle of Wight, and crossing back into French waters through one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. With fast depleting energy, the skippers will need to keep their wits about them as they head to a mark off Barfleur, before the final sprint into the Normandy fishing port of Dieppe.

The skippers are expected to arrive in Dieppe on Wednesday 26th June, with a non-points scoring postlogue race planned for Saturday 29th June allowing the public to see the new Figaro Bénéteau 3’s in action before the official prize giving where the winner of the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro will be crowned.

As many as 40 Figaro skippers are expected to compete in this 50th anniversary edition, including former winners alongside a plethora of young talent. At 2,130 nm, the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro course is one of the longest in race history and it will take everything in the skippers’ solo offshore arsenal to get them to the finish line.

With just over five months to go until the build-up begins in Nantes, the skippers will be using this valuable time to take delivery and train on their new Figaro Bénéteau 3’s. A full skippers line-up will be revealed in April.

La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro 2019 Schedule

May 27th: Arrival of the fleet in Nantes, France
June 2nd, Leg 1 start: Nantes, France – Kinsale, Ireland (via Fastnet Rock) – 500nm
June 9th, Leg 2 start: Kinsale, Ireland – Roscoff, France (via the Isle of Man) – 360nm
June 16th, Leg 3 start: Roscoff, France – Roscoff, France - 450nm
June 22nd, Leg 4 start: Roscoff, France – Dieppe, France – 460nm
June 26th: Anticipated arrival of first boats in Dieppe
June 29th: Postlogue and awards ceremony in Dieppe

Published in Solo Sailing

#lectures- An illustrated lecture Sailing in the Fast Lane- What’s Next? by Tom Dolan is to be held next week, Thursday 10 January (20:00) at Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club Ringsend, Dublin. 

Admission fee of €5 (in aid of Sailing into Wellness). 

Tom Dolan’s intense 2018 season, competing over an 8,000 miles racing circuit, culminated in the Solitaire du Figaro. This racing competition is widely considered as the highest level there is in singlehanded offshore sailing. Despite being his first Figaro season, Tom was on the podium in December at the Paris International Boat Show for his third place award in the Rookie sector.

Tom Dolan is here to tell us how it went, warts and all, and illustrating it with his revealing videos.

2018 had it all: Strong winds, intense moments, big waves and big upsets. He will also reveal his plan for the Solitaire du Figaro 2019 with his new boat, the revolutionary Beneteau Figaro 3, and his longer term dreams. These include racing round the world and representing Ireland in the 2024 Olympics.

Tom’s success as a solo competitive sailor hasn’t blinded him to his Glenans training based on a love of the sea and the power of teamwork on a sailing boat to bring about the best in everybody. Hence his desire to support the work of Sailing into Wellness. Its co-founders, Colin Healy and James Lyons, will speak before Tom about how their sailing programme helps people in their recovery from poor mental health and addiction.

Colin Healy is an expert by experience. During his personal battle with addiction and depression, he found sailing to have a substantial therapeutic value. James Lyons is one of Ireland’s most experienced sail training professionals.

Published in Solo Sailing

#FranckCammas - French America's Cup skipper Franck Cammas could be returning to the water as soon as next month after nearing losing his foot in a boating accident late last year.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Team France's top man had his right foot "partially severed" when he was run over by the rudder of his foiling catamaran during training in Brittany in late November.

However, after successful surgery Cammas was assured he would not lose the use of his foot as the arteries and nerves were unaffected.

And according to Bermuda's Royal Gazette, the Solitaire veteran and Volvo Ocean Race winner is making significant progress in rehab for his injury.

“Now I can spend more time onshore working with the designers and engineers on the new boat,” he said after having his cast removed last week.

It's thought that Cammas could be back on board in time for the resumption of the America's Cup World Series in Oman on 27-28 February.

The Royal Gazette has more on the story HERE.

Published in America's Cup

#fullirsh – David Kenefick's bid for Figaro success as a rookie is underway in Paluillac, France this afternoon after month's of preparation brought the solo Irish sailor to the start line at noon today. 

This morning shore teams gave the final touches to the boats and checking each and every detail on board. Earlier the skippers attended the usual pre-start weather briefing led by Météo Consult expert Cyrille Duchesne and gathered for the traditional group photo shooting. 

Photos from yesterday's prologue race in the heart of Bordeaux show a relaxed David Kenefick at the helm of Full Irish, organised and focused above all  the Cork sailor is now relieved just to be getting on with the job.

The original plan yesterday was to have all 41 boats race about 3 miles up the narrow river but due to a flood up the river several miles away, a dam was needed to be opened which caused a load of trees and some were over 30 feet long to flow down the river. It was to risky to send all the skippers out to race as they could hit a large log and do some damage.

So at 2pm the organisers made a decision to allow the skippers to take as many crew as they wanted to safely sail the race. It was not a race thought but a spectacle for the 25/30k people who lined the 2.3mile shore line on both sides of the river. They staggered the starts in boats of 4, until all 41 boats sailed up the river to the finish.

David's Dad Neil is in France and (pictured below) sailed the race yesterday with David yesterday.

AOA FIGARO 010613 IMG-0470 BC

AOA FIGARO 010613 IMG-0513 BC

AOA FIGARO 010613 IMG-0557 BC

 

Published in Figaro

#NAVAL VISITS - The first foreign naval visitors to Dublin Port in 2012 will be the French Navy, as five of an eight-strong class of school-training ships from Brest are due to dock on Friday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The octet  belong to the Léopard class though the namesake leadship, Léopard (A 748) and Jaguar (A 750) will not be forming as part of the visiting flotilla.

Those that will be making the weekend port of call, berthing at Sir John Rogersons Quay will be Panthère (A 749) and Lynx (A 751) both commissioned in 1982 and the remaining quartet Guépard (A 752); Chacal (A 753); Tigre (A 754) and Lion (A 755) which entered service the following year. For a photo of the latter vessel and one of her sisters the Chacal click HERE.

Each of the 44 tonnes vessel's measure 17.5m long and have a beam of  6.40m and drawing a draft of 2.40m. To read more on the class characteristics click HERE.

The class follow in the wake of the last French Naval vessel to enter Dublin Bay, PSP Cormoran (P677). The OPV provided guard-ship duties when accompanying the Solitaire du Figaro race fleet during the stopover to Dun Laoghaire Harbour last August, as previously reported on Afloat.ie

Published in Navy
Tomorrow morning walkers at Dun Laoghaire Harbour's pier-heads will have close-up views of the departing Solitaire du Figaro race fleet and a French Navy patrol vessel, writes Jehan Ashmore.
At 11 o'clock the third race-leg heads for Les Sables d'Olonne, Vendée, a distance of 475 miles. They will be accompanied by the (OPV) offshore patrol vessel PSP Cormoran (P677) which is scheduled to depart in advance at 10 o'clock so to allow the boats to gather in Dublin Bay. From there the PSP Cormoran will act as an escort 'guard-ship'. A role in which she has been engaged since the prestigious solo-sailor race started a fortnight ago.

The 447 tonnes OPV provides communication liaison and assistance should the forty six sailors require during the arduous race including SAR. As such the vessel can deploy a rapid response high speed RIB-craft from an internal dock-well located at the stern.

Otherwise the RIB is used to board fishing vessels as part of fishery monitoring duties and patrolling France's Exclusive Economic Zone out to 200 nautical miles (370 km). She is a Flamant class OPV and was built in 1997 by the Cherbourg based shipyard Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie. The 54m/177-ft craft is equipped with two 12.7mm machine guns.

As Dun Laoghaire is the only international port of call during the four-leg stages of the 1,695 nautical miles (3,390kms) the hosting of the Irish harbour is a welcomed boost to the sailing community and the local economy. Leading off the Carlisle Pier are pontoons where the one-design boats are moored and opposite is the East Pier jetty berth where the PSP Cormoran is docked.

Also at the East Pier is a festival market which is part of the Festival des Bateaux. The three-day festival ends tomorrow and was organised by the race-hosts the National Yacht Club, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. For further festival details click HERE.

The presence of a foreign naval visitor to the harbour was more commonplace particularly during festivals held in the 1980's. In addition to the French, navies from Belgium, The Netherlands were regular festival participants.

Published in Navy
Dublin Bay it set to burst alive with 'joie de vivre' during the only foreign stopover in the world-famous French Solitaire du Figaro yacht race.
Dun Laoghaire will be the only international stop in the race, considered the unofficial world offshore solo championshop, between 11 and 14 August.
To celebrate the visit of the iconic 3,390km race, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and the National Yacht Club have joined forces to create the Festival des Bateaux.
The harbour will be a magnificent tapestry of colour as the boats arrive for this international event. Dun Laoghaire will be resplendent with fireworks, music and the sights, sounds, foods and ‘joie de vivre’ of France.
Fireworks will light up the sky at 10pm on Friday 12 August. There will also be a festival village with public access to visiting boats, a colourful and authentic French market and exhibition, a festival stage at Harbour Plaza and activities throughout Dun Laoghaire, not to mention a spectacular farewell as the boats depart early on Sunday 14 August.
Meanwhile, plans to berth the 45 or so competitors expected are well underway, according to the National Yacht Club.
Funding was secured between DLRCoCo and Fáilte Ireland, and the tender for the supply and delivery of 18x11.5m pontoons and associated service bollards was won by McNiven Marine, Irish agents for Ronautica Marine.
The gangway contract was secured by Tynes Gangway, and the last contract for the installation and de-commissioning of the infrastructure is currently underway.

Dublin Bay it set to burst alive with 'joie de vivre' during the only foreign stopover in the world-famous Solitaire du Figaro yacht race.

Dun Laoghaire will be the only international stop in the race, considered the unofficial world offshore solo championship, between 11 and 14 August.

To celebrate the visit of the iconic 3,390km race, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (dlrcoco), the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and the National Yacht Club have joined forces to create the Festival des Bateaux.

The harbour will be a magnificent tapestry of colour as the boats arrive for this international event. Dun Laoghaire will be resplendent with fireworks, music and the sights, sounds, foods and ‘joie de vivre’ of France.

Artist_Impression_Solitaire_stopover

How Dun Laoghaire will look in August

 

Fireworks will light up the sky at 10pm on Friday 12 August. There will also be a festival village with public access to visiting boats, a colourful and authentic French market and exhibition, a festival stage at Harbour Plaza and activities throughout Dun Laoghaire, not to mention a spectacular farewell as the boats depart early on Sunday 14 August.

Meanwhile, plans to berth the 45 or so competitors expected are well underway, according to the National Yacht Club.

Funding was secured between dlrcoco and Fáilte Ireland, and the tender for the supply and delivery of 18x11.5m pontoons and associated service bollards was won by McNiven Marine, Irish agents for Ronautica Marine.

The gangway contract was secured by Tynes Gangway, and the last contract for the installation and de-commissioning of the infrastructure is currently underway.

Published in Figaro

The first night at sea of Leg 3 of La Solitaire du Figaro proved to be as demanding as expected, with the skippers fighting against high winds, cold weather, drizzling rain, fog and, especially, a very fastidious swell. Several blown spinnakers but the whole fleet is fastly sailing towards Ireland. After keeping the lead for more than 24 hours, Thomas Rouxel, has to lave first place to Armel Le Cleac'h. Yet, nothing is carved in stone as the first 26 boats are only 5 miles apart at 150 miles from the finish. Last night's Channel crossing from Portsal to Wolf Rock was wet and bumpy for the 44 skippers racing in the 41st edition of La Solitaire du Figaro. "Several skippers reported damages and breakages" said Jacques Caraes form the Race Management catamaran following the fleet's progress in the Celtic Sea. The big waves got the best of at least a dozen spinnakers.

Surely annoying but probably not so relevant for the rest of the race to Ireland because, in theory, the skippers will not need them to sail to Fastnet Rock and their final destination, Kinsale. The damage on Armel Tripon's Gedimat looks more serious, her hull pierced following a collision after the start in Brest. "On starboard tack there is a leak" reports Tripon, at the same time reassuring that the situation seems to be under control and keeps his spirits high. No doubt that shore teams, sail makers, riggers and builders will be busy over next week in Kinsale. For the sailors' joy the long, uncomfortable reaching in high winds up to 25 knots, grey and wet conditions came to an end early in the morning when the leaders rounded the Wolf Rock lighthouse and entered the Celtic sea. The first skipper to reach midpoint to the finish was a consistent Thomas Rouxel (Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne). The fleet later had to deal with a sudden 90° wind shift, provoked by the quick passage of a front, he wind from south westerly became north easterly. Sure enough there will be more of such variations to negotiate before seeing the famous Fastnet Rock, as confirmed by Meteo France's weather expert Sylvain Mondon: "the wind shifty and unstable, coming from the northern sector". No big news there, since before leaving Brest all the skippers declared that they very particularly wary of the Celtic Sea and its tactical tricks.

The tricky sea and hard tactical choices don't seem to be a major problem for Armel Le Cleach (Britair) who is reported to have got in the lead once again, overtaking Thomas Rouxel (Credit Mutuel de Bretagne) and preceding also Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) in third.

Yet the skippers are sailing in a very compact group, only 4.5 miles separate the leader from the 26th placed, Italian Pietro D'Alì (I.NOVA.3). Yet, another brilliant performance to register from Portuguese Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO-TEAM), who's been in the leading pack since the start and now lies in 12th position only two miles behind Le Cleac'h and first in the newcomers special ranking. Franco/German Isabelle Joschke (Synergie) is 25th, Swiss Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) is 35th and Jonny Malbon (Artemis) is in 42th at ten miles from the top. As per the latest computer simulations the ETA for the leaders at the Fastnet could be tomorrow between 9 and 12 GMT while the leaders could be crossing the finish line at Old Head of Kinsale. Quotes from the skippers:Corentin Douguet (E.Leclerc Mobile)"The wind shifted by 90° all of a sudden, it nearly got me by surprise. I had to tack quickly and now we are on port. We were heading to target on starboard before and we are doing in now on the opposite tack! We are approaching the Fastnet faster than expected, We've been busy since the start, no waiting game and it should be like that to the Rock, a tight schedule. It's windy but the swell is more annoying, rough and the autopilot is not working 1005 in these conditions. You must steer.

Typical August day in the Celtic sea. I't getting better, the visibility is improving, until a hour ago you can't see anything. Still, I like to be here." Armel Le Cléac'h (Brit Air)"After Brittany Point, a long tack and after rounding Wolf Rock there was a huge wind shift, more than 100°, from SW to NE, the breeze is coming from everywhere... The night was all right, I was happy to have left Brest in a good position, I was afraid of getting stuck somehow in the gulf. The sea is confused, we have a long stretch upwind tacking to the Fastnet, it won't be easy to find the best track to Kinsale. I keep my fingers crossed." Yann Eliès (Generali Europ Assistance)"A front just passed, the wind shifted abruptly but the rain has stopped and it's good after a whole night spent under, literally, buckets of water! You couldn't see much out there. I tried to go West and a cargo ship made a u turn just in front of me, I was obliged to take down the spinnaker. I lost some ground, even if I'm always in the top pack. There are still options to be made: a ridge, wind shifts, all the upwind part to the Irish coast that's going to be fun..."

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

The 44 skippers taking part to Leg 3 of the Solitaire du Figaro left Brest today for a 349 miles long route bound for Kinsale.  The start was hampered by the bulk of the fleet clustering the pin end of the line, causing individual recalls and several protest flags to be raised.  Leaving the goulet de Brest prove to be as hard as expected with collisions, penalty turns and a boat actually hitting the rocks. Portuguese skipper, Francisco Lobato, rounded the Radio France mark in 5th position ahead of his fellow first time participants.

Skippers left the pontoons from 11.00 waving goodbye to shore teams, families, friends and supporters ready to embark on the 349 miles of pure competitive sailing to Kinsale, together with La Belle Poule, the French Naval tall ship who hoisted her full set of sails, offering an spectacular and rare show for the gathered public out to watch the start.

Even before the start procedure was given, the atmosphere was full of excitement and expectation. At the start several boats were over the line, some going back to take a penalty and re-start, but the situation was pretty confused and many skipper's decided to hoist the protest flag. At the weather mark, the bouée Seamobile, two boats collided and further penalty turns ensued.

At the Radio France mark, the much-appreciated first prize went to François Gabart on Skipper Macif 2010, who was followed by Thomas Rouxel on Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne and Sébastien Josse on Vendée. Young Portuguese newcomer to the Figaro, Francisco Lobato on ROFF/TEMPO-TEAM had an excellent start to then round the mark in fifth, first among the rookies. Other non French skippers were reported to be in the second half of the fleet: Swiss Bernrd Stamm in 29th, Italian Pietro D'Alì in 36th, Jonny Malbon in 39th and Franco/German Isabelle Joschke in 43rd.

Shortly after rounding the Radio France buoy, Gabart ran onto the rocks whilst sailing very close to shore.  He was forced to get off the boat and was then able to literally push the boat off the rocks without requesting outside assistance and immediately went back to racing.

Upon leaving Brest and the bay of Camaret, the fleet made course up to the Four Channel, which can prove to be a very complex stretch of the course, especially renown for the tough cross currents.  The Molène archipelago and the isle of Ushant will have to be left to port side, then the Portsall plateau leaving the cardinal mark west Grande Basse de Portsall to port side. The leaders could get there, according to the latest ETA tonight between 8 and 9 p.m.

The fleet will then begin the second part of the leg that will take the skippers across the Channel towards Wolf Rock, which must be left to port.  The fleet is expected to reach Wolf Rock around breakfast time Tuesday.

Kinsale will welcome the 2010 Solitaire du Figaro for the 19th time in the 41-year history of the classic summer race, the highest number of visits received by any venue to have hosted the race stops.

Quotes from the skippers in Brest, before leaving for Leg 3
Pietro D'Alì (I.NOVA.3)
"This is not going an easy leg but at least it's going to be fast. The latest weather report says there will be more wind that we thought, so it will probably less hard to get out of the gulf. The cold front will come later than expected, there is a chance that we will round Wolf Rock reaching and then a long upwind part to the Fastnet. The wind will be pretty instable after that, we will need all our focus tacking up to Kinsale. The finish is expected for Wednesday might, it's going to be pretty quick... You will have to stay in the leading group from the start, not to accumulate too much distance, as apparently there will be no stop and go this time. I feel all right, especially after a massage and a good dose of sleep, I'm ready to go for the third one. I hope I will have the chance to fight to be in the top ten."

Armel Le Cléac'h (Britair)
"Sure, it's the shortest one, but we will be busy anyway. Getting out the goulet de Brest (bottleneck harbour) this afternoon against the current won't be easy, then the long tack to Cornwall, speed needed there, and the Celtic sea to complicate things further. Not simple at all, we'll have to watch out. As in any other leg... you can loose ground and be left behind. The start is tricky but the rest as well, with many options to take. I'm a bit tired, that's true because you never recover 100% of your energies. We are midpoint now with a tricky leg to be dealt with. And it's not just all about speed, but there's also strategy, weather routing and we are under stress."

Jean-Paul Mouren (Marseillentreprises)
"I'm convinced it's going to be a good leg, as the previous ones. It will probably be less sunny when we'll get to Ireland; I have my umbrella ready... My wish? You know, choosing the right option or the wrong one takes exactly the same energy, so I will try and be on the right track, be at one with the weather.  That's what you need to do, be on the same wavelength with nature, or it's going to be all wrong."

François Gabart (Skipper Macif 2010)
"We had two good ones, I must admit I'm biased because all went well for me. And for this one, we have all the right ingredients: light wind and current, then reaching under spinnaker or genoa; the Celtic Sea is going to be interesting too because there is a small secondary low pressure and there will surely be wind shifts to consider. Then another ridge and another front. A full plate for the game to be fun. I'm happy to get going because I feel all right, the boat is ready and I guess I got the rhythm. I need to go on sailing like I did on the previous two legs: look for maximum speed and try to be at the right place at the right moment."

Marc Emig (Marcemigetmoi.com)
"I need to learn to sail in the rain! More seriously, I wish to be able to stay in the top group, not to give up when things go wrong, be back in the match and get to Kinsale in a good mood with the longest possible lead. Then I will still have the last leg to try a coup and go up some 5 or 6 places."

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro

The 44 skippers get ready for Leg 3 of the Solitaire du Figaro in a surprisingly sunny and warm Brest while hundreds of supporters crowd the race village and the pontoons. Tomorrow at 14.00 they will leave Brittany for a challenging new leg up to the Channel, the Celtic Sea, the famous Fastnet Rock and the stunning village of Kinsale, where they return after a 13 years long absence. 349 miles of close and demanding racing, in strong currents, choppy seas and stiff breeze. Plus some accurate strategy towards the finish. The game is not over and many are hunting for glory.

Skippers and shore teams are giving the final touches to the 44 Figaro II that tomorrow at 14.00 will leave Brest for 349 miles of pure competition to Kinsale.

After leaving Brest and the bay of Camaret, the fleet will sail back up the Four channel which may prove difficult due to weak winds, swell and cross currents. The Molène archipelago and the isle of Ushant will have to be left to port side, the Four channel will be left off the reefs of the Portsall plateau leaving the cardinal mark west Grande Basse de Portsall to port side.

The second part of the leg will take the fleet across the Channel, approximately 90 miles to the Cornish coast, marked by Wolf Rock to be left imperatively to port side. The direct route will take the 44 skippers to sail between the Scilly Isles and Land's End. The 165-mile long sail up the Celtic sea will take the fleet to round the mythical Fastnet lighthouse, which will have to be left to starboard before heading East. The last stretch of around 45 nautical miles will surely be very hard for the tired sailors who will have to make use of their last energies to get to Kinsale, finish of leg 3, where the race has not returned to since its 28th edition in 1997. If this leg is the shortest, it certainly will not be the easiest. The passage along the coast of Finistère and the long and complex route from the Fastnet to Kinsale will no doubt be the hardest parts of this leg to negotiate.

According to the latest weather bulletin issued by Meteo France expert Sylvain Mondon the skippers will have to deal with a first part relatively good as far as wind is concerned, with a south westerly breeze of 10/14 knots that will accompany them to the Scilly. The wind will later strengthen due to a front hovering over the area and the sea state will be particularly hard to tackle.

Apart form the French stars such as Le Cleac'h, Gabart, Rouxel, Beyou or the best placed female skipper Jeanne Gregoire and the first rookie Anthony Marchand, the international skippers are also ready to fight for a "personal best" in Leg 3 or to take their revenge after somehow disappointing performances. So far the top spot among the non-French goes to expert Swiss Bernard Stamm (who is is also third placed in the newcomers special ranking, racing his first Solitaire ever) in 18th, French/German Isabelle Joschke is 28th, Italian Pietro D'Alì is 31st, Portoguese Francisco Lobato is 38th and unlucky Briton Jonny Malbon, who suffered an autopilot failure in Leg 2 and was forced to steer for three days, is in last position but ready to strike back.

Kinsale will welcome the 2010 Solitaire du Figaro for the 19th time in the 41-year history of the race. Kinsale still is the location to have hosted the highest number of legs of the race. No doubt the skippers will be eager to discover or rediscover this charming village, which has so strongly marked the life of the event.

Quotes from the skippers in Brest, at midpoint in the 2010 Solitaire

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat)

"From a racing standpoint it's an average performance, I'm 18th, at mid fleet. I still make so many different mistakes, I guess I'm still far from the leaders' level but it does not come as a surprise. I find what I came looking for and I'm pretty satisfied, all considered. In the second leg I made a huge strategical error after Penmarch, that could have been even more costly. I didn't in the first leg, just had some speed issues and lost ground. I'm enjoying this close racing very much, it's funny to have always someone next to you. It's useful to keep learning, I'll try to keep the faults to a minumim and go up in the general ranking.

I would like to do more but the schedule for the 60' is already quite intense, the Figaro is not for amateurs , it's also physically very demanding, it's fun but hard."

Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire)

"You have to suffer, in the Solitaire. Hurt yourself on the first leg is ok... but in the second one I really had to push to the limits to get closer to the top. This is what I did, worked hard, slept very little but still tried to think on the long term. And the leg was shorter. Everyone tells me that I'm in top form but I feel as usual, maybe I'm a bit sad because I miss my little one a lot (Jeanne had to skip last year's Solitaire to give birth to a baby girl ed. note) when I'm ashore. I could go home for a while and see her. I feel ok and my position suits me all right, five minutes from the fourth (Jérémie Beyou) but I only have a 30 minutes lead on the 14th, need to be on the lookout."

Romain Attanasio (Savéol)

"The third leg looks promising: at least we will have wind! But I'm wary, the shortest could be the trickiest. You will have to take a good start, deal with the contrary current, be in the leading group to the Scilly, then choose the right option in the Celtic Sea, tacking upwind. And watch out for the last 50 miles along the Irish coast, I hope we won't meet all together again in front of the finish line like it happened in Dingle. Experience show us that anything can happen up there. I find this year the technical level of the so called rookies is incredibly high. In the past being in the Top Ten was a big success, today being among the first half of the fleet is a feat! It takes twelve months for the young sailors to learn what we acquired in ten years!"

Reminder of the key dates:

- LE HAVRE

Suzuki Prologue: Sunday 25th July

Start of the 1st leg: Tuesday 27th July

- GIJON (515 miles)

Start of the 2nd leg: Tuesday 3rd August

- BREST (385 miles)

Start of the 3rd leg: Monday 9th August

- KINSALE (349 miles)

Expected arrival of the boats: Wednesday 11th August

Start of the 4th leg: Monday 16th August

- CHERBOURG-OCTEVILLE (435 miles)

Expected arrival of the boats: Thursday 19th August

Closing Parade: Sunday 22nd August

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro
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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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