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Big Winds as David Kenefick Starts The Solo Concarneau Race. Track Race Here!

1st May 2014
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Big Winds as David Kenefick Starts The Solo Concarneau Race. Track Race Here!

#soloconcarneau – 25 knots of wind from the West, a big lumpy sea, a foul tide and 31 other boats met David Kenefick's FULL IRISH on the start line for the 340-mile Solo Concarneau writes Marcus Hutchinson. Starting and finishing in the Breton port of Concarneau the course is taking the fleet of Beneteau Figaro IIs up through the Raz de Sein to a buoy just South of Ushant before a long dowind leg via the Birvidaux lighthouse near Quiberon to round the Ile d'Yeu off Les Sables d'Olonne before heading back North to finish in Concarneau. The estimated finish time is currently sometime on Saturday evening, but things can evolve as the forecasts roll through.

The start got away on time with a short upwind leg to the first weather mark to split the fleet up a bit. The wind shifted to the right almost at the start which meant the committee boat was the best place to be, David managed to get a second row start just at the boat and tack out to the right quickly to clear his air. There was very little port tack to sail and when he tacked back he was more than comfortable on the layline. Many boats to leeward however were struggling to lay and the middle of the fleet all missed the mark and had to gybe around and find a way back into the train of boats approaching on starboard.

The wind is going to keep the sailors more than busy over the next 18 hours as they make their way upwind in physical conditions. The first big decisions on strategy will kick in as they head across the Bay of Audierne. The foul tide will keep them inshore initially but as the tide prepares to turn their will be a timed exit from the shore to place themselves sufficiently far offshore to either get far enough to the West to sail outside the infamous Chausée de Sein and have the strongest fair tide for the longest time or to remain to the right, benefit from the forecast right hand shift and flatter water after the Raz de Sein.

Endless analysis of all of these points before the start can only go so far. A delay in the start or a bigger squall under the first cloud and a larger shift can alter angles and arrival times at strategic points by margins that throw everything into doubt. Decisions have to be made, evaluated, re-assessed and maybe modified all the time. In short there is a lot for the sailors to think about as they sail alone around the tip of Brittany.

The leaders in the early stages include several of the usual suspects in the class such as Jeremie Beyou and winner of the last two Solitaire du Figaros Yann Elies. The first boat at the first mark was Briton Henry Bomby sailing Red.

Published in Figaro
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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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