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Joan Mulloy Lying 27th After Two Legs of La Solitaire Le Figaro

5th September 2018
Joan Mulloy on her Figaro yacht 'Taste The Atlantic - A Seafood Journey' Joan Mulloy on her Figaro yacht 'Taste The Atlantic - A Seafood Journey'

Just seconds before the start of leg 2 in La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro, Mayo’s Joan Mulloy suffered gear failure that saw her mainsail come crashing down. Luckily, the rules allow for outside assistance to make repairs before a certain point and she spent the remainder of the race playing catch up as the fleet raced across the Bay of Biscay towards Spain.

The setback put Mulloy 3 hours and 20 minutes behind the ultra-competitive fleet as they left the French town of Saint-Brieuc. Meath’s Tom Dolan on his yacht Smurfit Kappa stuck with the group for most of the race and finished in 29th place out of 36 largely French entrants. Mulloy clawed back two places and managed to finish 34th.

Speaking on arrival in Ría de Muros e Noia, Mulloy said, "I had to push really hard for the first 24 hours after the start because of the halyard problem. I had to pull in and get the halyard replaced. I did not sleep at all on the first night and just was chasing, chasing all the time. I was just thinking 'I can do it, I can do it, I can do it’. Every single bay and rock, I was just trying to squeeze the most out of everything. I was just totally determined to be with the pack before Biscay.”

Mulloy and Dolan are the only two Irish entrants in what is considered the most competitive offshore solo race series in the world. In France, it is a firm fixture for aspiring round the world racers with dreams of the Vendée Globe. The most experienced will dedicate years to La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro before progressing to larger boats. Both Mulloy and Dolan are considered ‘Rookies’ as it is their first year competing.

Speaking about the Bay of Biscay Mulloy said: “Biscay was fine 30 knots (of wind) and bumpy, but I think all the time my mind was on Finisterre. It was hard not knowing how I was getting on with the rest of the fleet.”

After two legs Mulloy is lying 27th and Dolan is in 31st following his retirement in leg 1. Leg 3 of this 4 leg series starts on Saturday leaving just a few days for the fleet to recover. The next leg will see the fleet return to French waters ahead of the final leg, a 24 hours sprint that will bring this years event to a conclusion.

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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