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David Kenefick Blog #5 – Figaro Leg Two, 300 miles from Porto to Gijon

8th June 2013
David Kenefick Blog #5 – Figaro Leg Two, 300 miles from Porto to Gijon

#fullirish – So they are off on Leg Two, a shortened version of the original programme because of extremely light conditions forecast the leg is just 300 nautical miles long. The course is now very simple, sail North from Porto until you reach the corner of Spain and then turn right and sail East along the North Coast to Gijon. If only it was that simple. There are two complications, the first is very light winds and the second is the topography of the coast.

As the fleet leaves Porto in a SW wind heading North at a paltry five knots a simple front will pass over head and swing the wind round to the North West. On the back ide the wind will be more stable and a little bit fresher but nothing dramatic. The objective at the beginning of the race is therefore to cross the front as soon as possible and get to the other side first. The options that the leaders of the fleet have taken to do this aren't the same, this is a race and it will be interesting to see how this works out. Some have decided to foot off with spinnakers set to get as far North as possible before being headed and needing to tack, others will sail as high as possible until the shift comes against them and they can tack and get to the left more quickly.

Moving forwards a few more hours through the night the fleet will be sailing upwind tacking from time to time to stay to the West of the front but not going too far west as behind the front is a ridge of high pressure and the wind will start free the fleet again as it lifts them on port tack with spinnakers again appearing.

But all of this is going to be slow and require painful amounts of concentration from the 41 skippers. Around the top of Finisterre there will probably again be fog and depending on how quickly the westerly wind through the ridge appears will dictate how far offshore the smart money will sail as they head East along the North Spanish coast. Close to the shore and the high ground associated with North Spain there will be no wind and really unpredictable conditions.

The leg is likely to take three days so expect to see them sometime on Tuesday midday in the Spanish port of Gijon. The sleep programme is going to be extremely important and really difficult to know when to push on steering and when to get your head down. Those that are able to keep themselves motivated in the head-bursting fatigue stakes will be able to maybe make the killer decisions later in the race when others are struggling. Another classic Figaro leg is underway.


David made a cracking start at the pin end of the line as the photograph above proves. Regrettably half way up the beat he was relegated to the second half of the fleet as the pace around him, the timing and execution of light air manoeures let him down. David is in the pack, and needs to stay with other boats to be able to judge his speed and make adjustments when necessary.
Whereas Leg One was physical and then seriously light at the finish this leg will be light all the time and always mental and rarely physical. The concentration levels will need to rise and fall in parallel with the stretches of the course that are either difficult or straight forward.

Show your support for David on his Facebook page on Sunday, it will be his 22nd birthday. 

Published in Figaro Team

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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 celebrates 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.

The race has previously called to Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

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 will have two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who join the rookie ranks and keep the Irish tricolour flying high in France. 

The 2019 course is more Than 2,000 miles between Nantes, Kinsale (Ireland), Roscoff and Dieppe and is the longest in the race's history.


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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