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Solo Sailor David Kenefick Qualifies for Solitaire du Figaro - Podcast

13th April 2013
Solo Sailor David Kenefick Qualifies for Solitaire du Figaro - Podcast

#figaro – Exhausted but elated to have secured his place for June's Solitaire du Figaro race, 22–year–old Cork sailor David Kenefick talked to Afloat.ie on completing his longest race to date, the 320–mile Solo Arrimer this morning. 

The Crosshaven rookie who finished 21st in the 25-boat fleet admits in this podcast there is plenty of room for improvement before his debut in the French multi-leg offshore race in two month's time.

The world-renowned Figaro comprises of four legs of approximately 400-500 miles single handed starting from Bordeaux in early June 2013 against 35 other skippers all using identical equipment. Kenefick, one of eight rookies in the race will be Ireland's sole entry.

British solo offshore sailing took a step in the right direction this weekend, as three Anglo-Saxon Figaro skippers conquered the Rookie podium. Storming the 305-mile Solo Arrimer finish line at around 23:30 BST on Friday 12th April, 22 year old Artemis Offshore Academy sailor Jack Bouttell claimed the Rookie podium top spot, finishing 16th overall out of field of 26 sailors packed with talent. The next Artemis Rookie over the line was Ed Hill, who stepped up on the podium behind comrade Jack to take second, a great achievement and confidence boost for both British Academy sailors in only the second solo race of their careers.

Completing the Anglo Rookie trio was Irish Figaro sailor David Kenefick, who finished 21st overall behind Ed in 20th.

The British and Irish invasion left no room for the French on the up-and-coming Rookie podium, and with six fresh faced and eager to prove Anglo talents now racing on the circuit, could the French-dominated tide of the Figaro Class slowly be on the turn?
"I think my race went well. I had good boat speed at times and in general I'm happy with my performance and result," reported Jack after finishing the race, his happiness breaking through the exhaustion. "My highs for the race were finishing, of course, and just launching the boat downwind over the big Bay of Biscay waves in 30-40 knots of wind." Watch Jack's post race interview here.
"Jack sailed a consistent and intelligent race the whole way round the course" said event coach Marcus Hutchinson. "He told me afterwards that the way he keeps going and motivated in the darkest moments is to eat more. I think Jack consumes three or four times as much food on these races than anyone else. But if it works for him, then we'll find the food!" Read Marcus' Solo Arrimer race wrap up here.
Conditions for the 36-hour race were heinous and the course starting and finishing in Les Sables d'Olonne was shortened slightly to 305 miles. Wind speeds built from 6 knots for the start to a howling 40+ knots through the night combined with a 3 to 4 meter swell, ensuring that the sailors' first Atlantic race of 2013 was a real solo offshore challenge.
"The weary, but crazed eyes of all the skippers as we tucked into soup and crepes after the finish just said it all," reported Academy graduate Henry Bomby. "We all knew we had experienced something pretty cool during this race, something that not everyone will get to ever experience." Read the Academy sailors' war stories here.
Five British sailors lined up for the Solo Arrimer alongside a festival of Figaro rock stars. Academy graduates Henry and Nick Cherry, along with Ed, battled it out to finish within minutes of one another, with Henry just pipping them both to the finish line in 18th, improving on his 2012 result by 10 places. Now in his third year in the Figaro Class, Sam Goodchild was the first British boat over the line, just missing out on a top ten spot in 11th, to finish 50 minutes behind winner Morgan Lagraviére, and just ahead of the 'Professeur' himself, Michel Desjoyeaux, who makes his return to the Figaro after four years away.
"The race was a lot of fun, but at the same time incredibly challenging," Sam admitted. "We had some of the worst weather conditions I have ever seen in a race. But I put up a good fight and I'm happy with my result. It's encouraging to know I'm not too far off the pace."
Solo Arrimer winner Morgan, a French Olympic 49er sailor, finished the race in 1 day, 9 hours, 40 minutes and 43 seconds, just 13 minutes ahead of second skipper Thierry Chabagny. Yann Eliés, 2012 Solitaire du Figaro winner, came through the harsh Atlantic conditions to take third.
"During the Solo Arrimer all of the skippers proved they can safely get their boats around the course, race, navigate and bring it home in terrible conditions, there is no need to be too clever when being intelligent is enough. The strong winds and white water battering the sailors and their boats for the duration of the Solo Arrimer were not only a test of the solo skippers' metal, but of their stamina, performance and self management," concluded Marcus. "This weekend's podium results will come as a huge morale and psychological boost for both Ed and Jack in training and ahead of their next race, but that was just 30 odd hours, we've still got a lot of work to do in preparation for the 1,938 miles of intense racing that is the Solitaire du Figaro."
After celebrating his first Figaro Rookie class win by popping his first bottle of Pol Roger on the pontoon, Jack, along with Ed and Nick set sail straight away for Concarneau, France where they will now spend the next three weeks training and preparing with event coach Marcus for the Solo Concarneau starting May 6th, as well as their boats getting a refit so they are ready, if selected, to be on the Solitaire start line in June.

Solo Arrimer overall results

Position/Skipper (Boat name) Time at sea
1. Morgan Lagravière (Vendée) - 1 day 9hours 40min 43sec
2 .Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat) - 1 day 9hours 53min 45sec
3. Yann Elies (Group Queguiner Leukemia Hope) - 1 day 9hours 55min 14sec
4. Nicolas Lunven (Generali) - 1 day 10 hours 38sec
5. Jeremiah Beyou (Master Chef) - 1 day 10hours 02min
6. Xavier Macaire (Skipper Hérault) - 1 day 10hours 4min 40sec
7. Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire) - 1 day 10hours 19min 5sec
8. Frédéric Duthil (Sepalumic) - 1 day 10hours 26min 56sec
9. Alexis Loison (Group Fiva) - 1 day 10hours 27min 25sec
10. Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) - 1 day 10hours 27min 27sec
11. Sam Goodchild (Shelter Box) - 1 day 10hours 30min 45sec
12. Meilhat Paul (Macif) - 1 day 10hours 35min 50sec
13. Michel Desjoyeaux (TBS) - 1 day 10hours 41min 07sec
14. Julien Villion (Seixo Habitat) - 1 day 10hours 42min 6sec
15. Frédéric Rivet (DFDS Seaways) - 1 day 10hours 48min 48sec
16. Jackson Bouttell (Artemis 77) - 1 day 10hours 50min 31sec
17. Matthew Girolet (Lafont Presse) - 1 day 10hours 51min 35sec
18. Henry Bomby (Zhik - Made for Water ) - 1 day 10hours 57min 23sec
19. Nicholas Cherry (Artemis 23) - 1 day 11hours 14min 29sec
20. Ed Hill (Artemis 37) - 1 day 11hours 33min 35sec
21. David Kenefick (Full Irish) - 1 day 11hours 48min 26sec
22. Claire Pruvost (Port de Caen Ouistream) - 1 day 12hours 36min 35sec
23. Joan Ahrweiller ( Basse Normandie) - 1 day 12hours 38min 24sec and
24. Yannig Livory (Thermacote France) - 1 day 12hours 43min 19sec and
25. Gilles Le Baud (Carnac Thalasso & Spa) - 1 day 13hours 49 min 53 sec
26. Benoit Hochart (Aquarius) - 1 day 13hours 55min 55 sec

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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