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Kenefick Sails into Roscoff with La Solitaire Figaro Fleet

18th June 2014
Kenefick Sails into Roscoff with La Solitaire Figaro Fleet

#fullirish – Royal Cork's David Kenefick and The La Solitaire du Figaro fleet sailed in to Roscoff this morning at the end of two with the solo Irish sailor now 25th overall from 38 after the second stage of four in the intrepid race. Straight from his Full Irish nboat he has sent Afloat.ie readers the following report:

'That was a tough leg, but they always are. I shouldn't be frustrated, I'm hitting good places from time to time. I'm often playing well into the top half of the fleet and the top ten which was never the case last year. I'm going fast, faster than I ever have before and I',m always in the pack. This last leg was one that was rather unusual. There weren't many opportunities to do anything other than lose places. I had a good start and a really good second beat meaning I was in a good eighth place leaving Plymouth. My first big mistake was sailing too close to the Lizard off the South West Coast of England. We were really late starting and the tide was away by the time we got there and there was better pressure offshore. I lost a couple of miles there, miles that were never going to come back.
The Scillys were amazing with this great weather we are having. Dodging the various TSS zones kept us working hard and the long tight white sail reach out to the Stags was actually rather monotonous. It was difficult to stay awake on this leg and I had to sleep a lot. Just a few degrees up or down seemed to make quite a difference in the shifty dropping breeze.
It was great to see this small RIB approaching me at seven in the morning 10 miles off the Irish coast. I had a feeling that something like this would happen but when I saw Neil (dad) and George (brother) on board, well it was a special moment. I'd like to have been further up the fleet but they could see I was in the pack. Plenty of moral encouragement and banter...
Eventually when we got to the Stags off the Irish coast the fleet had bunched up again and pretty much all boats were in sight after two days. The run down the coast past Baltimore, Sherkin and Cape Clear was a great time, Dolphins and Whales and all my competitors raving about the wildlife and the good weather and the scenery on the VHF.
I was the first of the fleet to gybe offshore to try and get better breeze away from Cape Clear, and approaching the Fastnet with my Shamrock spinnaker set will be a photograph to keep.
The way back to Roscoff saw us tight reaching under headsails and at every corner we got lifted and were able to make it without tacking. It took a really long time and there were times I was fast and putting distance on people I've been training with over the winter and people who beat me big time last year.
We got into Roscoff just before dawn this morning and I finished 23rd, three and a half hours behind Yann Elies who is on fire with speed. He was leading the first leg when he dropped his mast at the Wolf Rock and then won this leg by almost an hour from the second boat. Impossible for him to win three in a row counting a retirement but a class act to sail with. I'm 25th overall after two legs and just five hours off the lead. After two legs it is still a very compact leaderboard and a huge amount can still happen over the next two legs. I'm gonna rest for the next few days, the next start is on Sunday 22nd June and it is looking like a windy downwind slide for the first two days. Looking forward to it, but not straight away. Thanks for you support.'

The skipper of Groupe Queguiner was first across the line in Roscoff at the end of Leg 2 of La Solitaire du Figaro-Eric Bompard. Elies finished at 01:26:01 after 3 days 3 hours 0 minutes and 01 second with an average speed of 7.3kn over the 535nm Leg. Corentin Horeau (Bretagne - Credit Mutuel Performance) finished second in the second Leg of La Solitaire du Figaro-Eric Bompard cachemire at 01:24:43 BST.

Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) finished in 3rd, 40 seconds later at 01:25:47BST and Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif) crossed the line in 4th at 01:26:19BST

First ten finishers, stage 2:

1. Groupe Queguiner - Leucemie Espoir, Yann Elies
2. Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance, Corentin Horeau
3. Maitre Coq, Jeremie Beyou
4. Skipper Macif 2012, Fabien Delahaye
5. Interface Concept, Gildas Mahe
6. Agir Recouvrement, Adrien Hardy
7. Groupe Fiva, Alexis Loison
8. Normandy Elite Team, Charlie Dalin
9. Cercle Vert, Gildas Morvan
10. Un Maillot Pour La Vie, Corentin Douguet

After 2 stages, overall top ten:

1. Skipper Macif 2012, Fabien Delahaye
2. Maitre Coq, Jeremie Beyou
3. Groupe Fiva, Alexis Loison
4. Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance, Corentin Horeau
5. Normandy Elite Team, Charlie Dalin
6. Cercle Vert, Gildas Morvan
7. Agir Recouvrement, Adrien Hardy
8. Interface Concept, Gildas Mahe
9. Gedimat, Thierry Chabagny
10. SMA, Paul Meilhat

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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