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Irish 'Figaristes' Have It All to Play for After First Night of Solo Maitre Coq (Tracker Here!)

26th June 2020
The start of the light air 17th edition of the Solo Maitre Coq where two Irish solo sailors are competing The start of the light air 17th edition of the Solo Maitre Coq where two Irish solo sailors are competing Photo: Breschi/SoloMaitreCoq

It's been a baptism of fire for both Irish competitors in the 2020 Solo Maitre CoQ after the first night at sea in light and tricky conditions.

Both Dublin's Kenny Rumball and Meath's Tom Dolan are currently in the bottom third of the 30-boat fleet but as anyone knows in offshore racing, with 300 miles still to sail, anything can happen before this weekend's finish. See Tracker below.

The start of the 17th edition began yesterday (Thursday) at 1:15 pm, off Sables d'Olonne.

Dun Laoghaire's Kenny Rumball on starboard tack shortly after the startDun Laoghaire's Kenny Rumball (centre) on starboard tack shortly after the start

The 30 sailors in the running then set off on a 340-mile course between Belle-Ile, Yeu and Ré, propelled by a northwest wind blowing between 5 and 6 knots. It was a breeze that quickly died out and almost completely died away on the approach to the rescue buoy, literally breaking up the fleet.

Meath's Tom Dolan at the first turning markMeath's Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa on mainsail) at the first turning mark 

Well in tune in these erratic conditions, top-ranked Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) was the first to turn south towards the Ile de Ré.

Overnight the fleet has spread out and leaders are now some ten nautical miles ahead of the rival Irish boats.

These are certainly challenging conditions for the Figaristes, where the challenge today for both Irish boats is to haul themselves back up the leaderboard.

Both Irish sailors are updating to Facebook. Tom Dolan here and Kenny Rumball here

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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