La solitaire du Figaro (www.lasolitaire.com) is a major single-handed yacht race, which takes place every year and has ports of call in France, Spain and Ireland (Lorient – La Corogne – Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie – Dingle – Dieppe). The race attracts a lot of media coverage being timed to take place during French Summer holidays. Le Figaro newspaper and a number of French radio stations are major sponsors of the race and it is shadowed by a team of journalists including RTI and Eurosport.
The Dingle Peninsula lying over 50 miles out in to the Atlantic Ocean, makes it Ireland’s most westerly destination. What makes it so special, is its combination of sharp craggy cliff drives, long sandy beaches, not one but two mountain ranges, high mountain passes, a stunning archipelago of the literary Blasket Islands, colourful villages full of Gaelic heritage and culture, countryside filled with vibrant flora and fauna, and of course, the crystal clear waters of the deep blue sea!
As the boats race around the Skellig Rock, a UNESCO world heritage site, Dingle Bay opens up to the competitors and the majesty of the Blasket Islands and Dingle Peninsula lies before them. Their destination, the traditional fishing port of Dingle Town, which lies hidden behind the imposing coastline at the entrance to Dingle Harbour. They will know for sure they have found Dingle when Fungi the Dolphin, Dingle’s most famous resident, welcomes them as they enter Dingle Harbour.
Dingle town and peninsula shares a long history with French Mariners both through fishing and trade with lobster being of particular importance back in the 18 and 1900’s. In more recent years, sailing has maintained this maritime connection with Dingle town taking La Solitaire du Figaro to its heart since its first visit in 2001.
The charming town and marina springs ever more to life with colourful bunting and flags during the event and the local businesses dress their windows with their French Connection. Everyone gets involved from the quaint shops, full of local arts and crafts, to restaurants, bars and hotels. Each sailor is “adopted” and welcomed by a local business and all are encouraged to enjoy the local festivities throughout the week, from the arrival of Le Figaro’s Organisation to the departure of the Sailors, which will be Sunday August 16th, 2009. Parades, local traditional music sessions, visits by the Irish and French Navy are just part of the fun and atmosphere throughout the event. For information on accommodation, visit www.dingle-peninsula.ie .
What has ultimately made La Solitaire du Figaro so special to this most westerly part of Ireland, is the long lasting connection that has developed since the event first came to Dingle. The new and old relationships – Le Figaro, its organisation and sailors who are welcomed back as old friends; the French visitors who have travelled so far west to experience the connection for themselves and become new friends; and the sailors who keep returning to enjoy the magnificent sailing waters from the Fastnet to the Blaskets.
To add to the festivities this year, the race coincides with Dingle Regatta allowing all competitors and visitors to enjoy one of Dingle’s most famous traditional events – the annual Dingle Regatta.
We look forward to making this 40th Anniversary a special one and to welcoming old friends back to Dingle and to welcoming new ones!
Wednesday 12th August 2009
∑ La Solitaire du Figaro Competitors are due to arrive to Dingle
∑ The Irish and French Navy will arrive to support the 40th Anniversary of La Solitaire du Figaro
Friday 14th August 2009
∑ Skipper’s Reception at Dingle Marina for all the Skippers, Le Figaro personnel, media and main sponsors
Saturday 15th August 2009
Prize Giving – 11.45/12.00
∑ To take place beside the Navy Vessel at Main Pier prior to Parade
The Parade (through Dingle Town) – 12.30
∑ La Solitaire du Figaro Skippers
∑ Local Businesses
∑ Local Sports & Activity Clubs
∑ Local Attractions & Amenities
∑ Street Entertainment
Dingle Junior Regatta 14.00
Sunday 16th August 2009
Parade of Sail – From Dingle Harbour from 10.30am (approx)
Race Start Time 12.00 (noon) from Been Bane
∑ The Race is due to commence 12 noon
∑ The Race Start is a wonderful colourful display and the departure is supported by local boats with the cliff tops of Dingle Harbour usually thronged with both locals and visitors to see the boats off
Dingle Regatta 2pm (approx)
The Race can be followed by logging on to