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La Solitaire du Figaro: The Bay of Seine Stage is Set

27th July 2010
La Solitaire du Figaro: The Bay of Seine Stage is Set

The 45 sailors competing on the 41st edition of La Solitaire du Figaro got off today at 14:00 under overcast skies in the bay of Le Havre with 8/9 knots of breeze from varying north-westerly direction.  Bar the two individual recalls given to overeager rookies, Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO/TEAM) and Louis Maurice Tannyeres (St. Ericsson) the race got off to a clean start.  Eric Peron (Massif 2009), warded off some stiff competition to reach the offset mark some thirty minutes into racing in the lead and continued to ward off attempts by Frederic Duthil (BBox) and Adrien Hardy (AGIR) to grab the coveted Radio France mark lead.

The fleet now face their first night at sea with wind predicted to rise gradually overnight to up to 20 knots from the North, Northwest on the approach to the Cotentin and Barfleur headlands.  The sailors now face multiple difficulties, but one in particular that all unanimously complained of before the start is the seaweed.  “It can stop the boat and even modify your course, especially at night when you don’t see it and you could be sleeping… you can well sail for 20 or 30 minutes without realising and that’s a disaster. It’s a minefield for everybody and I am under the impression that I get more than the others!” Worried Eric Drouglazet (Luisina) competing for the 18th time on the race.

The first part of the leg could be considered as “inshore and very technical” marked by the crossing of the bay of Seine; the skippers will then have to sail past the Cotentin and the Raz Blanchard headlands, well known for the strength of their powerful currents. Aurigny Island must be left to starboard, at the passage of the cape of the Hague, the sailors then head South sailing through the Channel Islands. Guernsey and Herm are official gates, which means that the fleet have to either sail through the narrow passage called the Great Russel on a direct route, or sail a more Southerly course depending on the turning tide times.  This first stage requires careful navigation and strategy to be well positioned for the second stretch along to Brittany headland.

The course between the Four channel and the Raz de Sein is yet another difficult and technical area that will remind the trailing skippers that nothing is yet decided with so many new obstacles to face. The Triagoz isles, île de Batz, île Vierge, Four lighthouse, Molène archipelago, Saint-Mathieu point, the legendary île Tévennec, île de Sein, passage of the Raz de Sein... there will be so many key passages to approach and each requires careful negotiation.  Once these initial 90 miles have been covered, the sailors will head south on the run to Gijón.

Pietro D'Ali (I.NOVA 3) from Italy reached the Radio France buoy in 21st place whilst Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO/TEAM) from Portugal managed to climb up to 31st place after the upset start and Jonny Malbon (Artemis) from the UK reached in 41st place; but it is early days with a further 511 miles to go to the finish in Asturias.

The stage is set in the Bay of SeineThe 45 sailors competing on the 41st edition of La Solitaire du Figaro got off today at 14:00 under overcast skies in the bay of Le Havre with 8/9 knots of breeze from varying north-westerly direction.  

Bar the two individual recalls given to overeager rookies, Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO/TEAM) and Louis Maurice Tannyeres (St. Ericsson) the race got off to a clean start.  Eric Peron (Massif 2009), warded off some stiff competition to reach the offset mark some thirty minutes into racing in the lead and continued to ward off attempts by Frederic Duthil (BBox) and Adrien Hardy (AGIR) to grab the coveted Radio France mark lead.The fleet now face their first night at sea with wind predicted to rise gradually overnight to up to 20 knots from the North, Northwest on the approach to the Cotentin and Barfleur headlands.  

The sailors now face multiple difficulties, but one in particular that all unanimously complained of before the start is the seaweed. “It can stop the boat and even modify your course, especially at night when you don’t see it and you could be sleeping… you can well sail for 20 or 30 minutes without realising and that’s a disaster. It’s a minefield for everybody and I am under the impression that I get more than the others!” Worried Eric Drouglazet (Luisina) competing for the 18th time on the race. The first part of the leg could be considered as “inshore and very technical” marked by the crossing of the bay of Seine; the skippers will then have to sail past the Cotentin and the Raz Blanchard headlands, well known for the strength of their powerful currents. Aurigny Island must be left to starboard, at the passage of the cape of the Hague, the sailors then head South sailing through the Channel Islands. Guernsey and Herm are official gates, which means that the fleet have to either sail through the narrow passage called the Great Russel on a direct route, or sail a more Southerly course depending on the turning tide times.  

This first stage requires careful navigation and strategy to be well positioned for the second stretch along to Brittany headland.The course between the Four channel and the Raz de Sein is yet another difficult and technical area that will remind the trailing skippers that nothing is yet decided with so many new obstacles to face. The Triagoz isles, île de Batz, île Vierge, Four lighthouse, Molène archipelago, Saint-Mathieu point, the legendary île Tévennec, île de Sein, passage of the Raz de Sein... there will be so many key passages to approach and each requires careful negotiation.  

Once these initial 90 miles have been covered, the sailors will head south on the run to Gijón.Pietro D'Ali (I.NOVA 3) from Italy reached the Radio France buoy in 21st place whilst Francisco Lobato (ROFF/TEMPO/TEAM) from Portugal managed to climb up to 31st place after the upset start and Jonny Malbon (Artemis) from the UK reached in 41st place; but it is early days with a further 511 miles to go to the finish in Asturias.

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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