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Joan Mulloy Makes Up Lost Places in Two-Part Figaro Fleet

3rd September 2018
The Figaro fleet in open water in daylight. But despite being single-handed, they continue to race when required at full throttle through some very rocky channels. Photo La Solitaire URGO Figaro 2018 The Figaro fleet in open water in daylight. But despite being single-handed, they continue to race when required at full throttle through some very rocky channels. Photo La Solitaire URGO Figaro 2018

Joan Mulloy, the first Irishwoman to take up the Figaro Solo challenge in France, has gained a couple of places racing Taste the Atlantic in the second day of Stage 2 to northwest Spain, after being delayed by a broken main halyard at the start off Sain-Brieuc writes W M Nixon. But Tom Dolan in Smurfit Kappa, having been up at 12th and within 1.5 miles of the leader, has slipped down the rankings through choosing to take the westerly option in the tricky waters between Ushant and the west coast of Brittany.

Anyone who has ever cruised this island-dotted, rock-strewn and tide-riven piece of the ocean will find it a marvel that people are racing single-handed through the midst of it with 36 powerful sailing machines under full spinnaker. But that’s part of the fascination of the way the Figaro race – now with the URGO organisation as co-sponsors - has developed as it works through the count-down towards its Golden Jubilee next year, when the third generation boats - foiling Figaro 3s - will be introduced.

Meanwhile, the Marc Lombard-designed Figaro 2 is centre stage in 2018 for the last time with style and nostalgia, and approaching the northwest point of Brittany at Lampaul early this afternoon, Gildas Mahe was leading. But he elected to continue offshore towards Ushant, while his closest challenger Anthony Marchand – the local hero after winning Stage 1 from Le Havre to his home port of Saint-Brieuc – gybed over to hold south down the coast.

The fleet had soon split into two distinct groups, and it was the inshore racers – led by Marchand and Pierre Leboucher – who did best, for as they have emerged into more open water well west of the Ile de Seine, the inshore group hold the first 15 places with its leaders shown as 5.2 miles clear ahead of the leaders of the offshore division, which included Tom Dolan with his placing now fluctuating in the 20s.

With winds steady from the northeast, progress is now more or less on rails, with any gains being fractional and hard-earned. The indications are that the mainly nor’east winds will continue across the Bay of Biscay. But the possibility of a low-pressure area developing over northwest Spain could make things more complex towards the finish, with a tricky beat into the Ria de Muros and up to the finish at Portosin being a final challenge for exhausted sailors.

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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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