Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

David Kenefick's #fullirish Blog: Counting Down the Hours to Figaro Leg One

28th May 2013
David Kenefick's #fullirish Blog: Counting Down the Hours to Figaro Leg One

#fullirish – With five days to go to the start of Leg One of the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro Ireland's David Kenefick reports in from Bordeaux, the start port.

There is so much to do during this week before the start of the Figaro. I hadn't realised how intense it would be in spite of being told over and over again by those around me. I guess that is experience. Interestingly many of the French skippers aren't even in town for the first few days of the week, leaving all the formalities to their shore crew. The Rookies are all here, getting it together, and I'm one of them and its great.

So safety checks, measurement checks, sealing of heavy weights in the boat, radio checks, AIS checks, nav equipment checks, and that's just the organisers and scrutineers. Its all for a reason, our equipment has to work and there would be remorse and liability if anything happened and in hindsight things were not done to best practice Protocols.

'I won't be drinking much wine but it will be interesting to see how these vineyards work'

I have sponsor obligations too. This could be seen to be inconvenient but that would be to miss the point. Our sponsors are amongst the reasons why we have been able to get to this stage and this is their time as much as ours to get the return, sell the products and be talked about. One of our sponsors is Patton Watches and I proudly wear one on my wrist. They have a stand in the village and everyday one of the six non-French skippers spends some time with the staff there signing posters and postcards of us racing our boats. They have made a significant contribution to our logistics pool for which we are all extremely grateful. And it gets better. Which ever of the six of us does the best in the event on points wins their top of the range sailing watch, a rather smart analogue chronograph produced in association with Harken.

Last week my team secured some more sponsorship for me and we will announce this later this week. It is very exciting to now be able to partially justify my existence commercially and this is the best possible training ground for me to learn how it works in the big bad world of professional/commercial sailing ventures.


David (right) Signs photographs of Ireland's 'Full Irish' campaign in Bordeaux. Photo: Brian Carlin

We are in Bordeaux and tomorrow night all 41 skippers have been invited to dinner at one of the famous wine Chateaux. It is Chateau Pichon and the guy who runs it, Yannick Evenou, and invited us is himself an ex-Figaro sailor from the 1990s.

I won't be drinking much wine but it will be interesting to see how these vineyards work.

More soon


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

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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)

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating