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Corkbound Figaro Begins Today

27th July 2010
Corkbound Figaro Begins Today

The 45 competitors taking part in the 2010 edition of the classic summer solo race, La Solitaire du Figaro, are set to sail from Le Havre for Gijón on a 515 nautical mile leg tomorrow, Tuesday 27th July; the first of four stage race over the course of the next four weeks.

The race will dock in Kinsale on around August 8, zig-zagging north from Brest leaving Wolf Rock to port, and then the Fastnet to starboard. With 8 rookies geared up for their first participation, 5 non French sailors wishing to leave their mark and 3 women including the return of Karinne Fauconnier, the 2010 line up promises to produce some memorable racing.

The weather forecasts vary and there could be either very light wind for the start of up to 10/12 knots from the northwest depending on which module you look at, explains Sylvain Mondon (Meteo France). "In the worst case we could have little and variable breeze for the start or if we look at the more favourable modules, we could see the northwesterly breeze established for the upwind run to the Cotentin headland for the first night. The breeze should freshen up and we could see up to 25 knots as it backs to the west and the turning tide, which will make for a tough first night of racing." Continues Mondon. Once the fleet round the Brittany point, with the wind of the beam, the forecast is for the breeze to lighten providing for a comfortable run with some it should be a straight down wind run towards Spain. "We can expect to see the first reach Gijon in the early hours of Saturday" predicts Mondon, if the forecasts do not develop and change too much.

The worlds leading solo sailors inevitably pass through the challenge of participating in the classic Figaro race. This 41st edition is no different. We see experienced sailors returning to hone their skills against the young future stars aiming to leave their mark. Previous winners include Jeremie Beyou (BPI), Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel), Eric Drouglazet (Luisina), Armel le Cleac'h (Brit Air) and Nicholas Lunven (Generali).

* French title holder Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) won the Prologue Suzuki in the waters of Le Havre, second place goes to Ronan Treussart (Lufthansa) and third toThomas Rouxel (Credit Mutuel de Bretagne). An action packed prologue: light breeze, tidal flow and four starting procedures. Eight boats fall victim of a black flag start, including past winners Kito de Pavant and Jeremie Beyou.

* And this is just wrong... Thierry Chabagny will not participate at the race this summer due to a lack of sponsorship. He finished 4th in 2009 and 2nd in 2006.

Start of the 1st leg: Tuesday 27th July
Le Havre to Gijon (515 miles)
Expected arrival of the boats: Friday 30th Jul

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here
Published in Figaro
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Ireland & La Solitaire du Figaro

The Solitaire du Figaro, was originally called the course de l’Aurore until 1980, was created in 1970 by Jean-Louis Guillemard and Jean-Michel Barrault.

Half a decade later, the race has created some of France's top offshore sailors, and it celebrated its 50th anniversary with a new boat equipped with foils and almost 50 skippers Including novices, aficionados and six former winners.

The solo multi-stage offshore sailing race is one of the most cherished races in French sailing and one that has had Irish interest stretching back over 20 years due to the number of Irish stopovers, usually the only foreign leg of the French race.

What Irish ports have hosted The Solitaire du Figaro?

The race has previously called to Ireland to the following ports; Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

What Irish sailors have raced The Solitaire du Figaro?

So far there have been seven Irish skippers to participate in La Solitaire du Figaro. 

In 1997, County Kerry's Damian Foxall first tackled the Figaro from Ireland. His win in the Rookie division in DHL gave him the budget to compete again the following year with Barlo Plastics where he won the final leg of the race from Gijon to Concarneau. That same year a second Irish sailor Marcus Hutchinson sailing Bergamotte completed the course in 26th place and third Rookie.

In 2000, Hutchinson of Howth Yacht Club completed the course again with IMPACT, again finishing in the twenties.

In 2006, Paul O’Riain became the third Irish skipper to complete the course.

In 2013, Royal Cork's David Kenefick raised the bar by becoming a top rookie sailor in the race. 

In 2018, for the first time, Ireland had two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who joined the rookie ranks and kept the Irish tricolour flying high in France. Mulloy became the first Irish female to take on the race.

Tom Dolan in Smurfit Kappa competed for his third year in 2020 after a 25th place finish in 2019. Dolan sailed a remarkably consistent series in 2020 and took fifth overall, the best finish by a non-French skipper since 1997 when Switzerland’s Dominique Wavre finished runner up. Dolan wins the VIVI Trophy.

Dolan finished 10th on the first stage, 11th on the second and seventh into Saint Nazaire at the end of the third stage. Stage four was abandoned due to lack of wind. 

Also in 2020, Dun Laoghaire’s Kenneth Rumball became the eleventh Irish sailor to sail the Figaro.

At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

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