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La Solitaire du Figaro's Dun Laoghaire Stop-Over

4th December 2010

Details for next year's course of the La Solitaire du Figaro race were revealed at the Paris Boat Show yesterday. The race will comprise four French towns and Dun Laoghaire will be the only foreign port of call when the boats are expected to arrive on 10 August.

In spite of Dublin airport weather delays a National YC contingent headed by Commodore Peter Ryan made it to Paris in time for the announcement.

The single-handed sailors will face a 1,695 nautical mile race in a traditional format with four legs with a decidedly northern course, set between the 46th and 53rd parallels. The Breton town of Perros-Guirec will be host to the festivities on 23 July and up to the first race leg to Caen, some 320 nautical miles, on 31 July. The course will not follow a direct route as the competitors will follow the British coastline before sailing down into the Bay of Seine.

Following several days for rest, the fleet shall once again set sail on 7 August for the second leg, of 470 nautical miles, that will take the Figaro Bénéteau 2 towards Dún Laoghaire. After leaving the Bay of Seine, a 40-mile or so run, the first obstacle will be the passage of the Barfleur point. The course remains inshore, as the single-handed sailors will sail along the Cotentin to the cape of the Hague, before heading towards the Channel Islands.

It will be compulsory to leave the islands of Aurigny, Herm and Guernsey to starboard. The skippers will then take on a long crossing of the English Channel, 120 nautical miles to Land's End. The last third of the course is a sail up almost full north over 190 nautical miles to reach Dún Laoghaire.

The Dublin Bay harbour is set to be a discovery for the visiting sailors and where the National Yacht Club are to be the host venue. After a few days rest and recuperation, the fleet then will set sail on 14 August to The Vendée and Les Sables d'Olonne. This third leg is long at 475 nautical miles with boats expected on 17 August.

Four days later and the final leg departs on 21 August with the boats setting a course for Dieppe, to arrive on 24 August. On the following day the Normandy port will also be hosting a closing regatta. For more information www.lasolitaire.com

Preparing for La Solitaire du Figaro here

Latest news for La Solitaire du Figaro here

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Published in Figaro
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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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.

2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Course

Stage #1 Caen – Kinsale : 610 nautical miles
Departure August 27 (expected arrival August 30)

Stage #2 Kinsale – Baie de Morlaix : 630 nautical miles
Departure September 3 (expected arrival September 6)

Stage #3 Baie de Morlaix – Piriac-sur-Mer : 620 nautical miles
Departure September 10 (expected arrival September 13)

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