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Two Irish Offshore Boats Start France's Tour De Bretagne a La Voile

2nd July 2021
Irish newcomers Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee finished in seventh overall after a Tour De Bretagne a La Voile prologue race before the tour gets underway today

The 13th Edition of France's Tour De Bretagne a La Voile kicked off yesterday (2nd July) with the Prologue race, which saw the 32 teams in a challenging battle with light winds around the Bay of Saint-Malo.

For the first time in race history, two Irish boats are on the start line.

Race debutantes Dun Laoghaire and Greystones Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee under the RL Sailing Team banner are sponsored by Hanley Energy. 

Tom Dolan, who achieved Ireland's best-ever finish in the Figaro last year, is teamed up with French Coach Tanguy Leglatin Tanguy. Dolan and Leglatin are sponsored by Smurfit Kappa and Kingspan.

Tom Dolan and Tanguy Leglatin (second from left) in the Tour De Bretagne a La Voile prologueTom Dolan and Tanguy Leglatin (second from left) in the Tour De Bretagne a La Voile prologue

THE RACE COURSE

The 13th Tour de Bretagne continues with the same ambition that has made it so successful: to welcome and bring together fans of the circuit, outstanding racers, as well as youngsters who come to learn their trade before launching themselves into shorthanded offshore sailing.

The short but sporty stages offer a lot of suspense thanks to the numerous difficulties of the coastal navigation. The double-handed race is filled with technical and tactical courses vary from 24 miles to 350 miles along the French Coast. Many of the skippers will have raced and experienced these waters before as part of the Figaro circuit, but for newcomers such as Irish ‘Bizuth’ Pamela Lee of RL Sailing Team, this will be a new, complex and tactical navigational challenge to take on.

“The landscapes are sumptuous and the playground exciting from a navigation point of view: currents, tides, rocks, sandbanks, mythical lighthouses, varied and sometimes changing weather ... there is really something to enjoy and/or tear your hair out.” - explains Jean Coadou, Race Director

THE COMPETITORS

The now traditional Tour de Bretagne A La Voile is a key event in the Figaro circuit, and is a part of the French elite ocean racing championship. The race has an amateur and a pro ranking, and like the rest of the Figaro circuit sees highly experienced ocean racing champions on the same race course as ambitious new-comers, as well as every level in between.

Ireland has had three skippers partake in the race to date, Damian Foxall in 1997 and 1999, Joan Mulloy became Ireland’s first female entrant in 2017 and Tom Dolan raced in 2019.

THE Tour De Bretagne a La Voile SCHEDULE

  • July 2nd: 12h30 - Prologue
  • Saturday, July 3rd : 12:30 - Start of the race Saint Malo -> Saint-Quay-Portrieux
  • Sunday July 4th : 10h00 - Start of the race Saint-Quay-Portrieux-> Saint-Quay-Portrieux
  • Monday July 05 : 15h00 - Start of the race Saint-Quay-Portrieux-> Douarnenez (arrival in Douarnenez on 7/07 in the morning) 
  • Thursday 08 July : 08h00 - Start of the race Douarnenez -> Concarneau
  • Friday July 09 : 11h00 - Start of the race Concarneau-> Concarneau Grand Prix " Guy Cotten
  • Saturday 10th July : 10h00 - Start of the race Concarneau -> Quiberon
  • Sunday July 11 : 10h00 - Start of the race Quiberon-> Quiberon 8:00 p.m. Prize-giving ceremony for the Tour de Bretagne à la Voile 2021
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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