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La Solitaire du Figaro Yacht Race. French Solo Sailing Event News

At 03:00am this morning, County Mayo’s Joan Mulloy crossed the finish line of the first leg of one of the most competitive solo sailing races, La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro. Mulloy is the first Irish female to compete in this famous race. Mulloy placed 4th out of the 8 Rookies and 27th overall from 36. Speaking about her performance Mulloy said: “I am disappointed in the result a wee bit, but then you just have to look at what our goals were at the start of the year and where we are now, it is great to have been on the start line and now at the finish line.”

Speaking on arrival as she stepped off her boat ‘Taste the Atlantic - A Seafood Journey’, Mulloy said: “I’m totally zonked, the intensity, and the length of it. Three and a half days is a long time to constantly have your foot on the pedal. I loved it, I felt really well prepared, and we felt really well prepared as a team and I had fun!”

The gruelling three and a half day race started in the French port of Le Harve and finished off Saint Quai Portrieux in France. The fleet raced across the English channel battling 30+ knot winds only to be becalmed as the made their way towards a lighthouse off the southwest tip of England. 36 identical 32ft yachts crossed the starting line but the punishing conditions saw seven skippers forced to retire including Ireland’s Tom Dolan.

On Sunday Mulloy will be starting leg 2 of this 4 leg race. When asked what her priorities were during that time she said: “Sleep, have a bath and eat food!”

Leg 2 will see the fleet crossing the notorious Bay of Biscay to finish in the Spanish town of Ría de Muros-Noia 520 miles later.

Published in Figaro

The first shortened stage of La Solitaire URGO Figaro is speeding to a finish tonight off St Brieuc with less than a mile separating the leading dozen boats as they drag race along the rocky North Brittany coast in a welcome nor’west breeze. Alan Roberts of Scotland in fifth place is currently best of the non-French entries, but another helm from the Marcus Hutchinson stable, Hugo Brayshaw, is close astern in the tight-packed leading group.

Even though there are less than thirty miles to the finish and they’ve been hitting ten knots and better, it will be dark by the time they get to the line, and with the onset of evening, there’s a likelihood the breeze will ease. Currently, Anthony Marchand leads by 0.2 miles from Thierry Chabagny and Charlie Dalin, but the final downwind stretch will probably see another reshuffling of the pack.

Ireland’s Joan Mulloy has closed up on the leading group but is still 18.2 miles astern, making 9.2 knots in 27th place.

Race tracker here

Published in Figaro

This morning as the leaders in of La Soliatire URGO Le Figaro were approaching the southwest turning point of Stage 1 at Grand-Basse de Portsal off northwest Brittany, the Race Director informed them by VHF that he was shortening the course. Under the new instructions, they were no longer to complete 543 miles by racing to Saint-Brieuc by way of Guernsey, but instead were to race a total of 475 by going to the finish directly along the rocky and tide-riven north coast of Brittany reports W M Nixon.

Judging by some of the traces showing on the Race Tracker, two or three of the boats seem to be unaware of the change. But Alan Roberts, the Marcus Hutchinson-mentored Scottish sailor who first honed his skills in top-level dinghy racing, took on the fresh challenge with enthusiasm, and having been in or around third place for most of the cross-channel leg from the Wolf Rock, he went furthest inshore on the new beat, but on re-joining the main group, found he had slipped to 8th while Sebastien Simon once again has taken the lead.

Ireland’s Joan Mulloy, currently placed at 27th out of 36 starters, has still to pass the Portsal mark.

Race tracker with new course here

Published in Figaro

Light southerly winds and tricky tides have provided a challenging scenario for the leaders in La Solitaire URGO Figaro as they battled to round the isolated Wolf Rock to the southwest of Land’s End this afternoon writes W M Nixon. It was something of a melee, but Scottish sailor Alan Roberts – one of the Marcus Hutchinson academy – did well out of it, moving rapidly up the top ten to be in contention for third place as the long cross-Channel leg to the turn point off northwest Brittany began with a beat.

That beat may soon become a reach, but whatever the wind direction takes up, for the time being it doesn’t look like there’ll be a lot of it. It’s becoming one slow race after two days and five hours since the start, and heading into the third night the current leader Sebastien Simon racing Bretagne CMB Performance has managed to get 0.2 of a mile ahead of former leader Corentin Douget.

With Tom Dolan now re-positioning himself to St Brieuc for the second leg (starting Sunday) after his forced retiral with a spreader adrift, Ireland’s sole representative Joan Mulloy has been finding better speed to get herself west of the Lizard Point, and the most recent postings show her at 26th out of 36 starters.

Race tracker here

Published in Figaro

Unfortunately, Stage 1 of his La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro only lasted about 90 minutes for the Irish solo racer Tom Dolan yesterday. He has been forced to retire in to Le Havre because of a damaged starboard spreader. Dolan informed the race organisers that he was returning to the race start port where he is expected to repair and head directly to Saint-Brieuc to be ready for Stage 2. Abandoning the leg means his elapsed time is calculated at that of the last skipper to finish plus an additional two hours.

Listen into Tom Dolan speaking about the spreader failure on podcast here.

spreader mastDolan's broken spreader in Le Havre port last night. The breakage gave the County Meath sailor no choice but to retire and make repairs for leg two.

Meanwhile, Joan Mulloy, Ireland's first female in the race is currently lying 29th from 30 still racing. See tracker here.

The first stage of this 49th edition, La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, is the longest of the four legs and it will be something of a baptism of fire for the 36 solo racers. They may have a relatively straightforward first afternoon after the start Sunday at 1300hrs but there will be a fast crossing of the Channel under spinnaker as a fast moving and active front passes over the fleet at the start of this evening.

It will be a pretty tough, challenging first night at sea with little chance to rest. But by Monday afternoon it there will be a big change in the weather as the anticyclone re-establishes itself and with that comes a measure of uncertainty, bringing light and unsteady winds. To get to Wolf Rock off the tip of Cornwall first and then across to the Portsall mark off the Breton peninsula in good shape, up to Guernsey and in to the finish in Saint Brieuc, it looks like a long, hard and very open game.

Only six and a half hours after leaving the La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro start line in Le Havre the leaders have already turned west, upwind at the Pullar mark, to the west of Owers. Anthony Marchand (Groupe Royer-Secours Populaire) lead at South Pullar at 1930h French time (1830 BST) being chased hard by Gildas Mahe (Breizh Cola), Tanguy le Turquais (Everial), Sebastien Simon (Bregagne Credit Mutuel Performance), Eric Peron (Finistere Mer Vent), Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF )and Vincent Biarnes (Baie de Saint-Brieuc). Brit Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) is tenth at 1.3nm behind leader. The fleet now race upwind leaving the Isle of Wight to starboard. Low water at Saint Catherine's point was around 1720 BST/1820 French time and so they will be sailing against the building flood tide.

Published in Figaro

First unveiled in 2003 as the new boat for the 1970-founded Figaro Solo Series, the Marc Lombard-designed 34ft Figaro 2 is a class act writes W M Nixon. But with the last one built in 2015, and replacement by the foil-sporting Figaro 3 well underway for next year, the versatile Figaro 2’s days at the sharpest edge of offshore racing are numbered.

figaro three2The Figaro 3’s foiling configuration will become a full part of the Figaro Solo story in 2019

Or are they? Though she carries a tough IRC rating, the Figaro 2 can sail up to it, as has been revealed in the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. The tail-enders in that boat-breaking marathon are still struggling in light winds towards the finish in the Solent. But in the two-handed division, Volvo Ocean race veterans Benjamin Schwartz and Chen Jin Hao with their Figaro 2 El Velosolex SL Energies Group are long since finished, and they’ve made quite a clean sweep of it – first in 2-handed, first in IRC 2, and 2nd in IRC Overall.

schwartz and hao3Chen Jin Hao and Benjamin Schwartz after winning the Two-Handed Division and placing second overall in the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race.

This made it an event to remember for Marc Lombard, as he also designed Guy Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra which won IRC overall and is also rated as the line honours winner. For although Class 40 sailed the same course with Phil Sharp’s Imerys Energy first to finish of the entire fleet, as far as the RORC were concerned it was the IRC Divisions which were the real race, and they made Pata Negra (third in fleet) the recognised line honours victor.

That in turn made El Velosolex second in line honours, But even in the complete fleet with Class 40 included, she was fifth on the water across the finishing line, a brilliant performance by two hyper-tough guys with a now classic boat which happened to be the smallest in the fleet.

This very special boat comes centre stage again on Sunday, with her final time as the boat-of-choice for the staging of the four part URGO Figaro Solitaire from Le Havre, and we’ll be looking at the prospects for Irish skippers Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan here very shortly. But for now, after the series is over, what then for the Figaro 2 after she has completed these impressive Farewell Tours??

Doubtless most of the boats have already been earmarked for new owners who will know they’re getting a bargain. Trouble is, in future seasons this will be a “No Excuses Sailing Machine”. In an open fleet against more ordinary craft, there’ll be no excuse for not doing well.

Published in Figaro

Joan Mulloy, a pioneering solo sailor from Clew Bay in County Mayo has reached the target of her ambitious #FirstIrishWoman funding effort four days ahead of schedule. Just two weeks ago, Joan launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise €15,000 before the start of the Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro solo sailing race series in France.

The campaign was launched on 10 August at a Women in Leadership event in Trinity College Dublin. The launch saw Joan joining a panel of impressive women leaders from politics, technology, business and academia where they discussed their experiences and Joan’s goal to be the #FirstIrishWoman to compete in the non stop race around the world, the Vendée Globe in 2020.

This Sunday 26th August, Joan will be the first Irish woman to compete in the notoriously competitive Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro sailing race. The Solitaire is a stepping stone and proving ground for aspiring Vendée Globe skippers.

Speaking from France where she is preparing to start her Solitaire race, Mulloy, added: “On Sunday, I will line up against some of the best solo sailors in the world and it is thanks to the support and vision of all those that donated to my crowdfunding campaign, and all the companies that have supported my sailing career.

Mulloy will be racing against a fellow Irish skipper Tom Dolan in this year's Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro. The race spans 4 legs around the French and Spanish coasts.

Published in Figaro

Solo sailor Joan Mulloy, who will be Ireland's first female entry into the Solitaire du Figaro race, the premier solo sailing race series in France, at the end of this month has started a crowdfunding campaign to support her pioneering professional sailing exploits. She's heading a panel discussion on Women in Leadership this month and is inviting sailors to join the discussion.

At the launch, there will be a panel discussion on Women in Leadership with female leaders from politics, tech, public sector and business as well as hearing about Joan's journey as a professional solo offshore sailor.

Mulloy also has ambitions to be the first Irish woman to compete in the Vendée Globe, the "Everest of sailing", a round-the-world solo yacht race that had no female competitors in 2016.

Speaking ahead of the event, Joan said: “What an amazing week to be having our Women in Leadership event. The Irish hockey team has inspired the nation just like Annalise did in Rio. We have a really strong group of female leaders on the panel which will make for some great discussions. All are welcome, registration is open on firstirishwoman.eventbrite.ie”

Joan Mulloy is part of Team Ireland that includes Gregor McGuckin and his ongoing Golden Globe Race, and Enda O'Coineen's circumnavigation as part of the last edition of the Vendée Globe.

Published in Figaro

#Cruising - Vendée Globe challenger Enda O’Coineen will be part of the Royal Galway Yacht Club’s inaugural cruise in company from Galway Docks to the new marina in Rossaveal this Sunday 8 July.

BIM seafood ambassador and Figaro contender Joan Mulloy will lead the cruise on board her on board the 30ft racing boat Taste the Atlantic, departing from Galway Docks on the tide at 12pm and aiming to arrive in Rossaveal about four-and-a-half hours later

Other boats taking part are Evolution, a 60ft motorboat skippered by John Killeen, one of the club’s three commodores, and Kilcullen Team Ireland, the IMOCA 60 on which O’Coineen completed his solo global circumnavigation.

All boat owners in the area are invited to join the first of what’s hoped to be an annual event. O’Coineen promises some esteemed company — including Riverdance composer Bill Whelan, who hopes to sail down from Roundstone to meet the fleet.

The cruise is also a great opportunity to meet Joan Mulloy and show support for her Figaro campaign, as well as her own future Vendée Globe ambitions in 2020.

Published in Cruising

On a sunny Monday morning, Mayo sailor, Joan Mulloy sailed up a calm Galway Bay after completing a 1,300 nautical mile solo trip on Team Ireland’s IMOCA 60.

She departed Portimao, Portugal and headed out into the Atlantic in order to clock up the required 1,300 solo miles that now means if a sponsor is found, she can compete in the solo transatlantic race the Route du Rhum. This race would then qualify Joan for the Vendée Globe, the ultimate non-stop solo race in the incredibly powerful IMOCA 60 yacht.

On her arrival, Joan said: “This is an incredibly proud moment for me personally and the wider Team Ireland"

Speaking about the achievement she said: “The qualification marks a huge milestone in our plans to compete in the Route du Rhum and ultimately the Vendée Globe. To be the first Irish female to get to the starting line of the Route du Rhum, and then the Vendée Globe would be amazing. I stand a good chance of being the first Irish female to sail alone, non-stop around the world".

Mulloy will be in Galway this week for SeaFest, Ireland’s national maritime festival. "We’ll have both the IMOCA 60 and Figaro here for the weekend so be sure to make your way to Galway.

Published in Solo Sailing
Page 2 of 3

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

Now 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

 

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