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Following the announcement of the new Irish Sailing League earlier this week, organisers say they have been “overwhelmed with the number of enquiries” as they reveal more details of its structure and future plans.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, well-known Dun Laoghaire sailor Kenny Rumball is backing the new league which would see competitors represent their clubs in short, grandstand-style sprint races sailed in RS21s with crews of four, in a series held over a number of weekends.

Boats would be provided at each event location, with the organisers saying this “breaks down the many barriers to keelboat sailing”.

In a video update, Rumball confirms that a full information pack will be released in January which will include the first season’s event schedule and locations.

Initially the league will comprise a single open division with one team per club — pending greater demand — but it’s hopeful to garner enough interest for a women’s league and an U25 division.

There is no maximum or minimum weight requirement for the four-handed RS21 dinghies, but Rumball adds: “Generally speaking most crews sail with a combined crew weight of 350kg.”

In addition, Rumball clarifies that teams in the Irish Sailing League will be nominated by their club, and every crew member must have a valid membership of the club they represent.

“This, we feel, will aid participation from clubs and membership for clubs as well, as this is a sailing league for clubs,” he says.

Based on demand, the league may run different divisions which will be sailed off towards a final, allowing more teams per club for those with a higher level of interest.

On the other hand, if clubs are struggling to find ways to select a team, Rumball says: “We have a fleet of identical boats and can help clubs organise one design events from which to nominate their team.”

More will be revealed in the New Year.

Published in RS21 Keelboat

The upstart Irish Sailing League is aiming to shake up the inter-club racing scene in Ireland.

Backed by Kenny Rumball of Dun Laoghaire’s Irish National Sailing School, the new league would see competitors represent their clubs in short, grandstand-style sprint races sailed in RS21s with crews of four, in a series held over a number of weekends.

Boats would be provided at each event location, with the organisers saying this “breaks down the many barriers to keelboat sailing”.

Well-known Dun Laoghaire sailor Kenny Rumball has been working behind the scenes to announce the Irish Sailing League this Christmas Photo: Alexis Courcoux/FigaroWell-known Dun Laoghaire sailor Kenny Rumball has been working behind the scenes to announce the Irish Sailing League this Christmas Photo: Alexis Courcoux/Figaro

Teams would battle it out to become the Irish Sailing League champions and give their club the right to proclaim itself the best sailing club in the country.

What’s more, the champion club would have the opportunity to represent Ireland at the annual Sailing Champions League, where sailing clubs from across Europe and beyond put their skills to the test.

Fully affiliated with the International Sailing League Association, the Irish Sailing League is now encouraging sailors and clubs to register interest for a 2023 season start.

Exact dates and locations are to be released very soon for the 2023 season in Ireland. 

Clubs will be required to nominate a team, which Rumball hopes will encourage more club-level competition in the country which has been declining over a number of years.

RS Sailing is backing the Irish Sailing League for 2023 by providing Ireland with the required six one design boats for the league. The RS 21 is widely used by lots of leagues in Europe, including the British Keelboat League & Italian Sailing LeagueRS Sailing is backing the Irish Sailing League for 2023 by providing Ireland with the required six one design boats for the league. The RS 21 is widely used by lots of leagues in Europe, including the British Keelboat League & Italian Sailing League

League Sailing is Club against Club with each club being represented by a team of which each member must be a member of that club. Through a series of races, the winning team will claim their club is the best sailing club in the country. The winning team then has the opportunity to represent their country at the sailing champions league, competing against teams from the best clubs in other countries that run a league affiliated with the International Sailing League Association. More in this vid below

Published in RS21 Keelboat

A lot of planning and preparation went into this year's Solitaire, from as early as January, I was out in France training, primarily in the Centre Excellence Voile in La Rochelle under the tutelage of coach Etienne Saiz while also under the watchful eye of project manager Marcus Hutchinson. The early season events and performances results-wise and on the water were very promising, with solid results in the Solo Maitre Coq, Allmer Cup and Solo Concarneau.

Not to mention great sailing in other classes, primarily in the 1720 class in Ireland and an offshore campaign on Darkwood the J121, which yielded a class win in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland earlier in the season.

As a result, I felt better prepared than ever going into the Solitaire. Well thought out sail selection, a great backup team, weather analysis with Christian Dumard and coaching from Etienne, all with significant ingredients necessary for a different format this year. Three as opposed to four legs, all 600nm with then two days ashore to rest before heading out on the next leg. This meant stopovers would be as important as the actual races.

Kenny Rumball Reflects on La Solitaire du Figaro 2022

Leg one was north from St Nazaire around Bishop’s Rock to a virtual waypoint halfway to Stockholm Island before heading south to Port La Foret. A very light start had us drifting north under gennaker before the wind settled in from the North West, bringing the fleet North with the wind eventually shifting to the North East giving solid speeds towards Bishop’s Rock. At Bishop’s Rock, we had our first transition with the wind dying before filling in from the South West. Up to 25 knots in the night gave fast speeds to the waypoint. The next day we encountered the next transition with no wind leaving the fleet drifting to the north of the Scillies. Eventually, in the late afternoon, the wind filled in from the North West to propel us south to Port La Foret. Many weather forecasts said we would get a North Easterly so I took a route to the South East to capitalise on this.

Approaching Quessant, I had the first of what would turn out to be persistent electronic issues. The wind instruments displayed an error as we were screaming downwind in 25kts through the night. Essentially this meant hand steering the last 16 hours of this leg. I arrived in Port La Foret with the pack, shattered but relatively content with my performance. Straight into much-needed rest, I left Guillaume, my preparateur, to look after the boat and seek clarity from NKE on the issues with the wind instruments.

Kenny Rumball Reflects on La Solitaire du Figaro 2022

Leg two would bring us North again from Port La Foret to a mark just west of Guernsey, across to Eddystone lighthouse and then all the way south to Royan, which is just North of Bordeaux. Starting in a sea breeze in the afternoon, there was a good breeze at the start before the wind went light and fickle all the way to the Pointe du Raz. Initially, in the light airs approaching Penmarch, I was not fast but knowing the wind would fill in from the East through the night, by the ‘Raz’ I was back in the mix with the pack. In a building Easterly with winds of 25kts and gusts touching 30kts, the fleet was beating all the way to the Channel Islands. Rounding the cardinal mark to the South East of Guernsey in the wee hours of the morning, it was a tough call for the sprint to Eddystone between the big spinnaker, small spinnaker or gennaker. Initially, starting off with the small spinnaker, it was fast and very wet but obvious that it was near impossible to stay high enough to make Eddystone. Peeling to the gennaker, speeds were much the same and easily making Eddystone. By then, winds had built to 28-32 knots, so the pace was rapid! Approaching Eddystone and for the leg from Eddystone back to Quessant, we were expecting gusts of 35 kts. Around Eddystone, it was a peel back to the small spinnaker. Some boats around me hoisted big spinnakers and found themselves overpowered and on their sides very quickly, so it was the right call!

Approaching Quessant, the wind was due to die, and we were expecting a transition with North Easterly winds all the way to Royan. This being the Solitaire, life was not to be so easy, and so with many transitions and the fleet spread widely out over the West Coast of France, we drifted around for nearly 24 hours, desperately seeking any tiny bit of breeze. The wind eventually filled in from the North West, and, frustratingly, after being in the middle part of the pack, I found myself in the latter half of the pack as we approached Royan. However, with another leg done with no major breakages and having survived the 35 knots in the channel in one piece, it was rest time again before the last leg! The instruments had behaved well; it was one tough leg to go!

Kenny Rumball Reflects on La Solitaire du Figaro 2022

Leg three was shaping up to be the toughest: a nice spin to the Farallones Islands off the North Coast of Spain with a building sea state up to 4m and wind speeds between 28 and 38 knots for a fast but challenging sail home to St Nazaire. In good spirits and feeling ready, I left Royan, staying very much with the pack to the safe water mark off Arcachon. Sailing fast through the night, I was in a good position in the fleet the next day and sailing fast in the lighter winds. Everything was going well on board until I was awoken from a quick nap to a wind warning message from my instruments at around 3 pm.

Having encountered these issues before, I followed the instructions I had been given from TEEM and NKE to restart the system to see if the issue would resolve itself. Monitoring the instruments, the issue became more persistent, and I started to have doubts as to whether I would be able to continue the leg given the forecast for the return leg of 35knts and 4m seas. A call to the race director Yann who allowed me to call TEEM on the satellite phone to get advice on potentially fixing the issue at sea. Remember in Solitaire, we do not have our mobile telephones and are forbidden from receiving outside assistance while racing. I also discussed the problem with fellow Irish competitor Tom Dolan. Unfortunately, the prognosis from TEEM was that my wind speed and direction sensor at the top of the mast was failing, and the situation would get worse…

With the forecast and a lack of reliable wind instruments, after much deliberation, I made the difficult decision to retire from the last leg and end my Solitaire for 2022. Whether or not it was the right decision, I will never know. However, when you are on your own with little to no outside assistance coupled with the stresses of racing, keeping the boat and yourself in one piece and given the circumstances at the time, this is the decision I took.

And so I started a lonely 200-mile delivery back to Lorient. Messages from the other skippers came in one by one on the VHF after the race committee informed the fleet of my decision. I phoned Marcus to let him know the situation and my family on the sat phone and pointed the boat at Lorient.

Suddenly it was all over, 9 months of training, racing, logistics, fitness, nutrition and a goal; the solo season was over. I spent two days in Lorient putting the boat away, which given how much sailing had been done on number 20 over the last three years, was not an easy task. I headed down to St Nazaire to celebrate with the other skippers, and go to the prizegiving to wrap up the event.

Then it was time for a much-needed holiday, away from sailing boats; the wind, sun and seas of Naxos were calling for a kitesurfing holiday…

What is next for Kenny?

I’m certainly in need of a good rest from offshore sailing and the intensive training and sailing regime that goes with it. However, I will continue to develop the Offshore Racing Academy to help in building and supporting the skills of all levels of offshore racing in Ireland. Stay tuned for some developments for next year in this area!

With that in mind, there is still the opportunity for young Irish offshore sailors interested in the Figaro to join Kenny to compete in the Figaro Nationals in Lorient from the 6th-9th of October….

Please email Kenny [email protected] if you are interested; just remember this is only if you are seriously interested in competing on the Figaro circuit in 2023. This event is sailed with 4 persons on board each Figaro. There is a mixture of short inshore races and a tour of Ile de Groix the island off the coast of Lorient. It is a nice end to the season and an opportunity for those seriously interested in competing in the Figaro circuit next year to gain valuable insight into the class, and skippers and learn what is required to compete in this professional class.

I am looking forward to doing some different sailing for the tail end of the season. The RS 21 World Championships are on the cards for November, and I am looking forward to the DBSC Turkey Shoot in the familiar surroundings of the 1720.

After 11 Middle Sea races, despite many offers, I am taking a break from heading to Malta for this year…

Published in Figaro

In the last leg of La Solitaire du Figaro, race organisers report that Ireland’s Kenny Rumball was forced to abandon on Monday night due to persistent electronic problems, such as he suffered on Leg 1.

With the last 24 hours of the stage expected to be a fast downwind, the lack of a reliable pilot would have been an impossible situation; he is due back in Lorient Wednesday morning".

Ireland's Tom Dolan, meanwhile, who remains in the hunt for overall honours, has dropped back a bit in the fleet overnight, but the breeze is expected to turn right in the next few hours, and he would be on the correct side of that shift, as he is North of most of the fleet.

Published in Figaro
Tagged under

The 34 skippers of the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro and their Figaro Beneteau 3s left Nantes on Saturday, August 20th lunchtime and to sail down to Saint-Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire. They docked there for the night making ready for Sunday’s start off Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef at 1540hrs local time.

Winds for the start of the 644 miles Stage 1 north to Skokholm island off Wales Pembroke coast look set to be light, the precursor to what looks like a complicated leg with many transitions and several small weather features to negotiate.

As previously reported, Ireland is fielding three (not two as reported elsewhere) for the marathon solo race.  French-based Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) moved to France 12 years ago to pursue his dreams of top level solo racing. He scored a fifth overall in 2020, the best finish by any non-French skipper for nearly 20 years and is looking to go better this time after a disappointing 16th last year.

Dun Laoghaire’s sailing coach, sailing school owner Kenny Rumball (Offshore Racing Academy), 35 is back for a second attempt after racing as a rookie in 2020. And Howth entrepreneur and amateur offshore racer Conor Fogerty, 51, (Immunex365.co.uk) is out to complete La Solitaire du Figaro for the first time as a learning experience.

Yann Chateau, 43, is the new Race Director of La Solitaire du Figaro taking charge of this edition after the baton was passed from Francis Le Goff with whom he served as Assistant for many years.

Yann Chateau says, “The conditions will be quite calm at the start with a moderate to weak wind flow from west to southwest between 6 and 10 knots. The boats will move west and west of Sein with a first night that is still fairly calm. Then, they will progress a little more quickly towards the Celtic Sea in winds of 10 to 15 knots. For the moment, there is a little uncertainty on the return with a transition phase which is not well modelled".

Published in Figaro

The rescheduled Offshore Racing Academy Weather Routing Lecture will run this Wednesday 15th June 2022 at 7 pm, just two days before the Round Ireland Race from Wicklow.

Originally it was envisaged to run this programme focusing solely on Expedition and Adrena, however, with the upcoming Round Ireland Race on the 18th of June it has been decided to run this course with a focus on routings for this race and look at other apps and online programs that can also help you achieve superior performance in the Round Ireland race this year.

Kenny RumballKenny Rumball

Weather routing software to be accurate requires a combination of highly accurate computer-generated information including;

  • Wind Data Models, know as GRIBS
  • Tide and Current information
  • Polars
  • Accuarate Navigational Hazards

Not only will the lecture cover the software, but it is also equally important to discuss the pitfalls of some hardware options! Kenny will reveal the secret solutions that are tried and tested in the professional offshore sailing scene in France.

The seminar is free to those that have already signed up to this lecture in the past and also the lecture on ‘Getting the most from your Offshore Racing’ but the modest cost of €30 will apply to new sign-ups.

To sign up, please follow this link here

Published in INSS

Coming up next on the solo calendar of the French Classe Figaro circuit in Le Havre is the All Mer Cup, running from the 20th to the 28th of May.

Similar to the recent Solo Maitre Coq, competitors will face a long offshore leg of around 340 nautical miles, which sends the fleet in a rectangle around the English Channel, starting and finishing in Le Havre. A day of rest before two coastal races in and around le Havre to wrap up the series!

For this fifth edition, there is a fleet of around 30 Figaro Bénéteau 3 expected at the fleet of the Société des Régates du Havre. And for this edition, there is a new race officer, Yann Château.

The last edition of this event was held in 2018; due to Covid and other factors, the previous editions have not been possible. As with all events in the Championship Elite, there will be full festivities and a social calendar for skipper and their support teams.

Ireland will be represented by three skippers, including Tom Dolan, who has already competed in the Allmer Cup in previous editions. Kenny Rumball and Conor Fogerty, are competing in the event for the first time. All 3 Irish boats are already in the race village, with the official days for boat arrival, safety, security and inspections starting on the 20th.

Kenny Rumball's offshore support van Kenny Rumball's Offshore Academy support van

It was a busy time for all boats having to complete a near 300 mile delivery from their home ports of Port La Foret. Thankfully Marcus Hutchinson, who is supporting several boats was on hand to move the support van and trailer to the event for the teams.

It is pre-event rest and recovery, planning and weather analysis ahead of the start on Sunday!

The 340nm offshore course of the All Mer CupThe 340nm offshore course of the All Mer Cup

The first race, 340nm offshore, is scheduled to start at 1600hrs French time on Sunday the 22nd. Tracking the race and event updates will be possible on the official event website here.

Published in INSS
Tagged under

There was a dramatic end to the 'grand course' of the 19th edition of the Solo Maître CoQ with plenty of light patches putting the sailors' nerves on edge.

Corentin Horeau crossed the finish line completing the 327-mile course between Belle-Ile, Ré and Yeu in the lead after a little less than 48 hours at sea.

The French Mutuelle Bleu skipper earned the win less than 20 miles from Les Sables d'Olonne by taking advantage of a slight wind shift further offshore.

The 33 boat fleet included Irish interest thanks to the pioneering efforts of three solo skippers.

The Offshore Racing Academy's Kenny Rumball from Dun Laoghaire Harbour finished 20th, County Meath's Tom Dolan was 21st. Conor Fogerty of Howth was forced to retire due to electrical problems.

Inshore races until Sunday will complete the Solo Maître CoQ.

 

Published in Solo Sailing

As I sit down to write the update for February, it dawns on me, how quickly the month has raced past and also as to how much sailing and time on the water was achieved in 28 days!

We started the month on the water, sailing and training with Susan Beucke from Germany, Silver Medallist in the 49er FX class who is exploring the adventures of offshore sailing in the Figaro 3 circuit. Based out of Lorient we were sailing with Lorient Grand Large. For me, it was a chance to train with a different perspective and different training partners including fellow Irish Offshore Champion, Tom Dolan.

The superb week of sailing made up for the fact that the team trailer had been broken into with lots of expensive and necessary support equipment stolen including, diving gear, stack bags, offshore drysuits to name but a few of the items that we will, unfortunately, have to delve into the reduced funds we have to replace.

Offshore Racing Academy

Wrapping up for the first week, we made the move back down to La Rochelle where number 20 was based. Next up was a week of solo sailing for Kenny to make sure the solo skills were still there as the potential to compete in some upcoming Figaro 3 events was becoming more and more of a reality. During the week we had mixed conditions, with windy days and equally light days, most importantly, the solo skills were there! To wrap up the week it was necessary to deliver 20 north to Lorient as there was another charter on the boat for it’s old skipper Will Harris and team Malizia. The 24-hour delivery reminded me exactly how solo sailing at night in the winter is not that much fun!

"The solo sailing community out here in France cannot be underestimated"

As 20 was on charter for a week it gave some time off and a chance to return to Ireland for some rest and recuperation which was much needed…

Recharged and back ready for action and a nice surprise of a first-class trip to France with Aer Lingus, it was back to Lorient to pick up 20 and head south to Ile d’Yeu for a 10-day training camp with Pole La Rochelle! Joining me for the week would be Timothy Long from the UK. Timothy has an impressive sailing background having circumnavigated the UK aged just 15!

Also joining us for his first Figaro training camp would be Conor Fogerty and his Figaro number 64 RAW. Leaving Lorient on the back of a front, it was a pleasure to have a co-skipper of Maïween Deffontaines to sail to Ile d’Yeu with! Perfect conditions on a reach the whole way there under gennaker in 20kts of wind we made light work of the delivery arriving on the dock to be met by Timothy with plenty of time to get the boat prepped for an intense week of training.

Intense the week certainly was, lots of wind every day with those conditions you only get once in a while to actually push a boat and see what it can do! On one trip around the island, we had 25 kts of wind downwind with the big spinnaker up and then blast reaching with the gennaker in 30 kts! Check out our video below to get an idea of how intense the boat is!

Unfortunately, Timothy had commitments to attend to back in the UK and I was left to do a nice 24 hours solo training race with the rest of the group. Light downwind conditions followed by wind and plenty of gennaker sailing back towards the Island!

With lots of training and sailing done, it was time to get back to Ireland. Literally 4 hours back on the Island, enough time for a quick sleep and packing of bags before we were off again to sail the boats to St Gilles to get them put to bed for a week or two!

Figaro 3 Number 20 out of the water and safely in its cradle(Above and below) The Offshore Racing Academy's Figaro 3 Number 20 out of the water and safely in its cradle

Figaro 3 Number 20 out of the water and safely in its cradle

It cannot be underestimated about the community out here. No sooner had I arrived in St Gilles on a Saturday, the slings were changed on the crane and number 20 was out of the water and safely in its cradle! Top work by Guillaume and the team in Port La Vie and we had Conor’s boat number 64 out also! After a manic 48 hours, it was time for some rest and food!

We’re a few days into March and it is already busy, we are providing lots of training to the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association and have lots happening and planned as previously reported here

It’s great to be busy!

Published in INSS

After two seasons in France campaigning a Figaro 3 in both double-handed and solo sailing disciplines, it has become apparent to Irish offshore sailor Kenny Rumball that there are no grassroots feeds to the professional offshore racing scene in Ireland. The Dun Laoghaire Harbour dinghy and keelboat champion says this eliminates the progression of Irish sailors representing their country abroad in anything but the usual pathway of youth and Olympic high-performance sailing.

The prospect of a double-handed offshore mixed class for Paris 2024 sparked the imagination of many a sailor, sponsor and spectator, but unfortunately, this discipline will not be happening.

France is the hub of the offshore sailing scene and has quietly been so for many years. France plays host to the most significant offshore races, including the Vendee Globe, the Transat Jacques Varbe, Route Du Rhum, La Solitaire du Figaro, the list goes on…

Irish offshore sailor Kenny RumballIrish offshore sailor Kenny Rumball

However, there are comparatively few Irish sailors that have ventured into the scene.

In the past, we have had competitors in La Solitaire du Figaro, including Marcus Hutchinson, Damian Foxall, Dave Kenefick, Mick Liddy, Joan Mulloy and our most successful solitaire sailor so far, Tom Dolan.

 Ireland's most successful La Solitaire du Figaro sailor, Tom Dolan Ireland's most successful La Solitaire du Figaro sailor, Tom Dolan

Fewer still have gone on to pursue the ultimate offshore challenge in France, the Vendee Globe. Enda O'Coineen has been our most successful so far, but no Irish sailor has completed the Vendee Globe.

Why is this? Why do so few Irish sailors not take the relatively short ferry trip to France?

Enda O'Coineen - Ireland's only ever entry in the Vendee Globe RaceEnda O'Coineen - Ireland's only ever entry in the Vendee Globe Race

It became increasingly apparent that most young Irish sailors know very little about the offshore scene in France and the progression it takes to achieve results in races like La Solitaire du Figaro, the Mini Transat or the Transat Jacques Varbe.

I want to break down these barriers by getting young Irish sailors, both male and female, to France and exposing them to the different classes in the French offshore sailing community, including the Mini 6.50 fleet, the Beneteau Figaro 3 Fleet, the Class 40 fleet and even the ultimate IMOCA fleet.

Unfortunately for many of these classes, the races are solo or double-handed, except the Class 40 fleet, where there are unlimited crew in some races. The Class 40 is not a one-design fleet but is a 40-foot' box rule' class that aims to be cost-effective through the limitations of exotic build materials. The fleet was devised initially to bridge the gap between smaller 30-foot ocean racing boats and the Imoca 60 class of 60-foot offshore racing boats.

Through this boat class, I aim to give young Irish Sailors exposure to the elite offshore racing world that exists in France.

Some of the events available for Class 40 next year include; 

  • Les 1000 milles des Sables
  • Grand Prix Guyader
  • Normandy Channel race
  • Armen Race or Myth of Malham
  • Au Large de St Tropez
  • SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race
  • Drheam Cup (Course qualifier RDR)
  • Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race

However, to help Irish offshore sailors progress, I'm looking for partners to help provide these offshore sailing experiences and grow the presence of Irish sailors in these demanding leagues.

There are costs to sailing, and France has shown the value of sponsorship to companies both large and small. Companies are fighting to become the title sponsor of the next Figaro, Class 40 and Vendee Globe campaigns.

Sponsor Medallia has purchased GB sailor Pip Hare a better boat for the 2024 Vendee Globe Round the World  RaceSponsor Medallia has purchased GB sailor Pip Hare a better boat for the 2024 Vendee Globe Round the World Race

There is a massive return on investment for companies within and outside France evident by a company such as Medallia who came on as a late sponsor for Pip Hare in the last Vendee Globe but got such a return on their spending, Medallia has already purchased Pip a better boat in anticipation of the next Vendee Globe in 2024!

The statistics speak for themselves; in the last Vendee Globe, there were 350,000 followers on Facebook alone, more than the number of followers on the World Sailing website, for example.

Ed's note: In an exciting few weeks for Irish offshore sailing, Cork pro Justin Slattery added a Middle Sea Race record to his CV as two Irish offshore solo racers compete in Transatlantic races. Galway's Yannick Lemonnier is racing in the MiniTransat as Afloat reports here and Wicklow's Jim Schofield in the new Adventure Globe 5.80 Transat Race here

Published in Offshore
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