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Royal Cork's Kenefick Must Complete 320–Mile Offshore Race for Figaro Qualification

10th April 2013
Royal Cork's Kenefick Must Complete 320–Mile Offshore Race for Figaro Qualification

#figaro – If solo sailor David Kenefick successfully completes completes tomorrow's 'Lien Cartographie Solo Arrimer' race he officially qualifies for this Summer's Figaro race, a long held ambition for the young Munster sailor.

LIVE TRACK DAVID KENEFICK's PROGRESS

The race at 320nm miles is the longest the Crosshaven sailor will have completed to date in his boat Aquarius. He's also lining up against the best French skippers (See below for entry list)

Organised by the Water Sports Sablais since 2003 Sables d'Olonne, the Solo STOW runs between the islands of Ré, Yeu and Belle-Ile  on the French West Coast.

While a large depression, accompanied by high winds, is poised to sweep west over France today, the weather files show a weaker low pressure system from Thursday.

There will be plenty of competition from previous Vendee Globe sailors plus he's also racing against Michel Desjoyeaux, (a three time Figaro winner) and (two time Vendee globe winner) but the Irish sailor says he has something of an advantage in that he is in Desjoyeaux's old boat after chartering it for the year!

Full list of entries below:

Joan Ahrweiller / REGION NORMANDY, Jeremiah BEYOU / MASTER COCK, Henry Bomby / Zhik - MADE FOR WATER, Jack Bouttell / ARTEMIS 77; Thierry Chabagny / GEDIMAT, Nick CHERRY / ARTEMIS 23; Michel DESJOYEAUX / TBS; Frédéric DUTHIL / Sepalumic; Yann ELIES / GROUP QUEGUINER LEUKEMIA HOPE, Matthew GIROLET / LAFONT PRESS, Sam GOODCHILD / VASCO DE GAMA, Edmund HILL / ARTEMIS 37; Benoit HOCHART / AQUARIUS: David Kenefick / FULL IRISH; Morgan LAGRAVIERE / VENDEE; Gilles LE BAUD / Carnac Thalasso & SPA , Armel LE CLEAC'H / CREDIT; Yannig Livory / THERMACOTE France; Alexis Loison / Group FIVA Nicolas LUNVEN / GENERALI; Xavier MACAIRE / SKIPPER HERAULT, Paul Meilhat / SKIPPER MACIF 2011, Jean-Pierre Nicol / BERNARD CONTROLS, Claire PRUVOT / PORT DE CAEN OUISTREHAM; Frederic RIVET / DFDS SEAWAYS; Julien VILLION / Seixo HABITAT.

Update from David:

Well this is it. It's the night before the start of the Solo Arrimer Race. We are in Les Sables, in the Atlantic, with the tide and of course the beautiful, not, Spring weather. The pictures I posted on my facebook page two days ago were a freak window of sun and light winds before the rot set back in and it has been blowing over 30 knots ever since. Today it barely stopped raining. But that is the lot of a solo sailor. Get up and get on with it.
It's a long course they have set us, the longest I've sailed at 305 miles, but ironically it may end up being only 36 hours in duration as there is plenty of wind and it is mostly a reach up and down the French coast. We head initially South East to pass inside ile de Ré and under the bridge that joins it to the mainland by La Rochelle, before heading North all the way up inside Belle Isle to a mark just off the tip of the Quiberon Penninsula. We then return via Les Sables d'Olonne to round Ile de Ré again, but this time in the other direction before heading to the finish line again.
My objectives for the race are, number one to finish the race, number two to stay in touch with the legends that have also entered the race too for as long as possible, and three to gather as much experience as possible.
I've learnt this week about the unbelievable amount of preparation that goes into entering and being cleared to race. The amount of paperwork is unbelievable but all necessary. We have been working hard on weather and navigation briefings as the start time rolls closer and we have a better idea of what we will experience on the weather side and hence at what time and what state of the tide we will round the marks on the course. We have been checked by safety scrutineers, sail measurers, the press and of course Mathilde at the Class association has diligently helped us all with the certificates for this and that and the other ,... oh and the PLB battery expiration date!
Safety is a serious business and no one takes it lightly. I already appreciate more now than I did a week ago about why things are done the way they are done. Being in this environment for a week allows us to learn from the older and more experienced skippers about their preparation, what their priorities are and where our own preparation is lacking.
Anyway, now it's like the night before your final school exams. The revision has been done to a greater or lessor extent, there is not much more we can do except be fresh in the morning and go out and do it. The exam results should be known sometime in the small hours of Saturday morning when we cross the finish line here again in Les Sables d'Olonne.

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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