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King Hops from Figaro Class to Cookson 50 for a Transatlantic dash

30th June 2011
King Hops from Figaro Class to Cookson 50 for a Transatlantic dash

UK sailor Nigel King who recently finished a creditable second place overall in the Transmanche Race sailing his Figaro class yacht – E-line Orthodontics – is currently competing in the Transatlantic Race aboard Chris Bull's Cookson 50, Jazz writes Sue Pelling.

King's recent success in the highly competitive Figaro class, was just the sort of result he was looking for in the run up to the Solitaire du Figaro – the key event on the Figaro circuit – which starts in less than a month's time (29 July).

King will be sailing into Dun Laoghaire when the Figaro race stops here in August.

As a passionate, and particularly versatile sailor who manages to compete equally well solo or in a team, King's aim as skipper of Jazz in the Transatlantic Race is to ensure the yacht obtains the best possible result for owner Chris Bull, who had to pull out the race to attend his son's wedding.

Speaking from the dockside in Newport Rhode Island just before he started the Transatlantic Race earlier today King said: "Chris is a very active sailing owner, so for him not to be here for this race is a big thing. What is even more significant is the fact that he is allowing us to race his boat without him. We as a team all recognise we are pretty fortunate to have an owner who puts his trust in us entirely, so we really need to make sure we deliver on results, and getting the boat across the Atlantic safely."

King, who is skippering Jazz, will be working closely alongside Mike Broughton (navigator) and Christian Rippard (principal helmsman) during the 2,975-nautical mile race from Newport Rhode Island to Lizard Point, England. Other members of the team include Anthony (Ski) Haines (boat captain), and a selection of Australians who, according to King, are a great bunch of guys. "They are really hardworking and into their sailing and ultra competitive. They all work well together which means we have a really good team onboard."

The Transatlantic Race is a key event in the seven-race Atlantic Ocean Racing Series, which means to qualify for the series; at least three races must be completed including the Transatlantic Race. Having completed two races already this season – the RORC Caribbean 600, and the Annapolis to Newport Race – Team Jazz is looking forward to a respectable result in her third, qualifying race. Speaking realistically about what lies ahead, King said: "I am not a great believer in saying 'we are going out there to win'. If you go out there with nothing but a win as your goal, you focus so much on that you forget to sail properly. We've talked about how we want to perform and that is to sail to the highest level we can and hope that, if we make all the right choices and minimise our mistakes, the result will come."

King estimates a 14-day crossing depending on the conditions. According to the forecast the first few days could bring a light to moderate south-westerly breeze. King added: "There's a bit of a front coming through which is kind of messing the picture up a bit but we could have a few days of potentially 10-15kts, maybe slightly more spinnaker running as we go up the coast to Nova Scotia depending on whether we take a southern or northern route."

Once they cross the finish line at the Lizard, the team will have a 24-hour delivery trip back to Cowes for the prizegiving event at the Royal Yacht Squadron. For King however, it will be a case of jumping ship again, this time back onboard his Figaro – E-line Orthodontics – where he'll sail back to his home in Lymington before heading straight across the Channel to Perros-Guirec, France for the start of the Solitaire du Figaro.

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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