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Cork Solo Sailor to Make French Figaro Race Debut in 2013

13th November 2012
Cork Solo Sailor to Make French Figaro Race Debut in 2013

#figaro – A 21–year–old Cork sailor has launched a bid to compete in one of the world's toughest offshore challenges. David Kenefick will debut in an international fleet that sails to Ireland next year in the 44th edition of the famous French La Solitaire du Figaro single-handed race.

The Crosshaven sailor who is currently training in La Grande Motte, Languedoc, France with the British Artemis team is fulfilling a long held ambition to compete in the race, one of the most competitive solo races in the world. The Cork Harbour helmsman will likely be the only Irish entry in the multi-stage offshore race.

"There are just over seven months to the start of the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro race and everyday in my training schedule counts. My programme is being managed by Figaro veteran Marcus Hutchinson who has organised my boat and technical programme and secured for me a place in the elite CEM training centre in La Grande Motte on the French Mediterranean coast. We will be here for the next five months developing my shorthanded sailing skills to such a level that I can confidently compete in the Solitaire du Figaro in 2013" Kenefick told The full campaign press release is available for download below as a pdf.

The unique stages of the race, the presence of great solo sailors regularly in the line up plus the fact it is also open to amateurs has made it one of the most appealing in offshore sailing. Sailors are required to sail long passages single-handedly catching only brief periods of sleep while underway.

French organisers have yet to nominate the 2013 Irish stop–over port for the 50 plus professional helmsmen who will race over 1600 miles.

The race has previously called to Kinsale, Dingle, Howth, Kenefick's own home port of Crosshaven and most recently Dun Laoghaire.


Irish rookie David Kenefick afloat in French waters at the start of his 2013 Figaro campaign. Photo: Brian Carlin

Noted America's Cup communications manager Hutchinson a former Figaro competitor in the 1998 and 2000 editions of the race and now based in Kinsale, is acting as a coach and mentor to the rookie Munster campaign, according to Kenefick's father Neil, the well known Cork Harbour yachtsman.

As well as Hutchinson previous Irish entrants in the event include Volvo race winner Damian Foxall and Paul O'Riain. In 2011, when the race called to Dun Laoghaire, the Dublin solo sailor Mick Liddy's chances were set-back through a lack of sponsorship.

The race is sailed in one design keelboats, Figaro Bénéteau II type yachts.

Kenefick's team is also seeking sponsorship but his 2013 bid is already on the water and competing in warm up events. The former Optimist,1720 and A35 ace has chartered a Figaro class yacht from the fleet of the famous French navigator Michel Desjoyeaux for a one year term. Desjoyeaux recently competed in Ireland in Dun Laoghaire at the helm of the winning MOD70 Foncia, when the tour visited Dublin Bay for the first time.

In spite of his young years Kenefick has over 30,000 sea miles, has completed some arduous voyages including two Fastnet races, a transatlantic and some high end TP52 sailing. Recently he completed a number of very strenuous Artemis British offshore duration sailing tests and showed plenty of promise.

Kenefick, the younger brother of George, Afloat's sailor of the year, is currently completing a six week training stint in France.

Kenedfick's introduction began at the age of three in the Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) and progressed to sail for Ireland in the youth classes. He grew up across the river from the RCYC clubhouse so his only form of transport was a tender. Today he now have over 30,000 sea miles in different locations around the world and is also aiming for Master 200 certification and become one of the world's leading Super Yacht captains.

His recent sailing experience is below:


2nd 1720 Europeans

NYYC Invitational Cup, sailing for his club the Royal Cork Yacht Club.


Rolex Middle Sea race 2010,on Dublin yacht "Legally Brunette"

ISA All Ireland sailing Championships 2010' 3rd sailing with his father.

1st 1720 sports boat Europeans 2010.

Rolex Commodores Cup. He was part of the Hong Kong team were we finished 2nd.


ACC Bank Cork Week 2008 - For Cork Week He skippered an IRC A 35.

Rolex Commodores Cup - Blondie IV king 40, part of Ireland' s finishing third overall.

BMW Round Ireland - 9th overall and 2nd in class 1. Kenefick's role on board was a watch leader in one of the windiest round Ireland's in the races history and the youngest sailor taking part in the race.

His campaign can be followed on twitter @davidkenefick

The full schedule for David Kenefick's programme is as follows:

CEM Training Centre, La Grande Motte (November-March)

Icom Cup, Marseille (6-12 March)

Solo Concarneau, Concarneau (4-9 May)

Transmanche, l'Aberwrach (16-20 May)

La Solitaire du Figaro, Bordeaux to Dieppe (2 – 31 June)

Cowes Week (3-9 August)

Rolex Fastnet Race (11-15 August)

Two-handed Tour of Brittany (31 August – 7 September)

Generali Med (22-30 September)

La Route du Rhum race Tracker

You may need to scroll vertically and horizontally within the box to view the full results

Published in Figaro Team

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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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