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

#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

Mayo's Joan Mulloy/Thomas Ruyant on board Kilcullen Team Ireland have finished fourth from nine teams in the inaugural Monaco IMOCA series. 

As Afloat.ie reported previously, Ireland's only female solo sailor got a special send off from Vendee Globe competitor Enda O'Coineen.

On crossing the line at 0817hrs this morning (Thursday) after 3 days, 19 hours and 17 minutes of racing, Paul Meilhat and Gwénolé Gahinet (SMA) won the Monaco Globe Series, the first leg of the new IMOCA world championship. Less than two hours later, the mixed pairing of Isabelle Joschke and Alain Gautier (Monin) did well to take second place, finishing just ahead of Fabrice Amedeo and Eric Péron on Newrest-Art & Fenêtres. The double-handed crews formed by Joan Mulloy/Thomas Ruyant (Kilcullen Team Ireland) and Stéphane Le Diraison/Stan Maslard (Boulogne-Billancourt) completed the top five in what was a breathtaking and instructive race for everyone.

An exciting and hard-fought new race, the first event in the Globe Series, the new IMOCA world championship for the 2018-2021 period, lived up to its promise. In conditions that can only be described as typical of the Mediterranean, as the weather was unreliable and demanded a lot of the sailors, the nine pairs competing went through nine technical and stressful days. After setting sail from Monaco last Sunday, the IMOCAs raced in a magnificent setting and everyone enjoyed themselves out on the water. They headed towards the Strait of Bonifacio before rounding Sardinia from east to west and then headed back up to the Golden Isles, returning to the Principality in a long Mediterranean coastal race.

They were the favourites in the Monaco Globe Series and managed to confirm those predictions. Aboard SMA, Paul Meilhat and Gwénolé Gahinet warded off the attacks from the determined crews behind them, starting with Fabrice Amedeo and Eric Péron, who remained very threatening on their foiler, Newrest – Art & Fenêtres. “It was extremely physical and tough on the nerves,” explained Meilhat, who won the Bermuda 1000 Race just a few weeks ago. “It reminded me of what I experienced racing on a Figaro in the Mediterranean. In terms of the race, it was crazy with a lot of action. Whether you were ahead or behind, it was never over. But there’s nothing more interesting in terms of adrenaline. You feel alive when you race in the Med!”

Still in with a chance of winning last night, Fabrice Amedeo and Eric Péron had a great race, but in the end had to make do with third place. Fabrice Amedeo: "We may be a bit disappointed, as we almost made it to second place. But upwind, in five knots of wind and with no daggerboard, it wasn’t going to be easy to keep with boats like SMA and Monin. What we will remember however is that we were up with the frontrunners in this battle from start to finish and we were the first foiler to cross the line.”

The mixed pairings in the best of shape

Isabelle Joschke and Alain Gautier (Monin) never eased off and in fact overtook their rivals just a few miles from the finish in Monaco to take second place. A strong performance rewarding a well-managed race. Another mixed double pairing also did particularly well in the Monaco Globe Series. Aboard Kilcullen Team Ireland, the Irish skipper, Joan Mulloy took fourth place along with Thomas Ruyant, who was back on the IMOCA, aboard which he took part in the last Vendée Globe.

Contests at every level with nine boats safely home

Further back, two double-handed crews fought it out like cat and dog to make it to the top five. Respectively seventh and eighth yesterday evening, Boulogne Billancourt (Stéphane Le Diraison/Stan Maslard) and Groupe Setin (Manu Cousin/Alan Roura) clawed their way back during what was a decisive final night to finish fifth and sixth in Monaco. “This was a useful experience for the future of Groupe Setin, as I’ll know better now how to get the most out of the boat. I’ve been throwing everything at this project and that will be continuing in the future,” said a smiling Manu Cousin at the finish.

Two crews sailing IMOCAs with foils suffered in the Mediterranean weather and have to make do with a result that is probably below what they were hoping for. Malizia II (Boris Herrmann/Pierre Casiraghi) and Bureau Vallée 2 (Louis Burton/Arthur Hubert) crossed the finishing line in seventh and eighth place. Pierre Casiraghi: “It was really a fantastic race with lots of ups and downs. It was tough once we’d passed the Strait and we really had to fight hard to climb back up towards Port-Cros with the gaps narrowing within the fleet. The Mediterranean lived up to its promise with a wide range of extremely varied conditions. It was a race that was exciting and an incredible experience.”

Alexia Barrier and Pierre Quiroga brought up the rear this afternoon (Thursday) in spite of their brave efforts on 4MyPlanet2, the oldest boat in the fleet (launched back in 1998). All of the boats competing in the Monaco Globe Series are now safely back in port.

Monaco Globe Series final rankings :

1. Paul Meilhat/Gwénolé Gahinet (SMA)
2. Isabelle Joschke/Alain Gautier (Monin)
3. Fabrice Amedeo/Eric Péron (Newrest-Art & Fenêtres)
4. Joan Mulloy/Thomas Ruyant (Kilcullen Team Ireland)
5. Stéphane Le Diraison/Stan Maslard (Boulogne-Billancourt)
6. Manu Cousin/Alan Roura (Groupe Setin)
7. Boris Herrmann/Pierre Casiraghi (Malizia II)
8. Louis Burton/Arthur Hubert (Bureau Vallée 2)
9. Alexia Barrier/Pierre Quiroga (4MyPlanet2)

Published in Vendee Globe

Mayo’s Joan Mulloy is taking the helm of the impressive Kilcullen Team Ireland IMOCA 60 to compete in the Monaco Globe Series on the 1st June. This will be Mulloy’s first IMOCA event and will give her valuable points towards qualifying to race around the world in the Vendee Globe. It will also be the first time ever that a female Irish sailor has competed in a qualifying race for the Vendee Globe.

The Monaco Globe Series will see nine IMOCA 60 racing yachts compete double handed over the course of a week in a mix of inshore ‘exhibition races’ and a 1,300-mile offshore sprint around the Mediterranean. The offshore race will pass many iconic islands such as Sardinia, Corsica and Menorca in a race that is expected to last 4 days.

"This will be Mulloy’s first IMOCA event and will give her valuable points towards qualifying to race around the world in the Vendee Globe"

Speaking ahead of the event Joan Mulloy said: “This is an incredible opportunity for me to get my first race in an IMOCA 60 done and will give me an all-important taste of what the Vendee Globe will be like.

Enda O’Coineen and the backing of Team Ireland has been instrumental in getting Joan Mulloy Team Ireland up and running and this will be another huge step forward in getting the first Irish female entrant to the start of the Vendee.”

Joan’s co-skipper for the Series is Thomas Ruyant. Thomas was a previous skipper of the now named Kilcullen Team Ireland in the 2016 edition of the Vendee Globe. His racing record includes an impressive win in the Mini Transat followed by a Route du Rhum victory in a Class 40.

For more on the event see here

Published in Solo Sailing

Mayo solo sailor Joan Mulloy successfully completed her first race in the highly competitive Figaro II fleet in France this morning. The Solo Maître CoQ was the first major race of Joan’s 2018 season and the first time her ‘Taste the Atlantic – a Seafood Journey’ branding was revealed.

The race consisted of a two hour ‘inshore’ race where the 24 strong fleet raced in 20 knot plus winds and big seas off the coast of Les Sables d’Olonne. This was then followed by the 245 miles offshore race that took over 40 hours of nonstop sailing to complete. Joan was the only female to complete the race.

Joan Mulloy Solo
Joan Mulloy lines up at the start of the solo race

Typically, the solo skippers rely heavily on the ‘autohelm’, an electronic self-steering system, to allow them to sleep, cook and trim the sails. Unfortunately for Joan her autohelm malfunctioned before the start of the offshore race and she was faced with a difficult decision to abandon the race or to continue on knowing that she will get virtually no sleep for the entire race. Joan opted to continue on and sacrifice sleep.

“I said I would do the first short leg and see if I could find a solution to get my autohelm working again. It became clear that this wasn’t going to happen, but I made the decision to continue racing. I knew it would be hard to remain competitive without sleep and not being able to leave the helm for more than a few seconds,” said Joan.

The 245-mile course saw the fleet round some stunning islands off the coast of France and return to Les Sables d’Olonne. The skippers battled the elements and saw winds range from 25 knots to almost nothing at all.

Joan added, “I can’t explain how proud I am to have finished my first solo event."

Joan will now return to Lorient to train for her next event. 

Published in Figaro

#Figaro - Bord Iascaigh Mhara will support for Joan Mulloy in her challenge this year as the first Irish female sailor to compete in the world famous Solitaire du Figaro race.

The solo, multi-stage race spans the length of the French coast from the Mediterranean to the North Atlantic Ocean. Fewer than 15% of competitors are female, and no women from Ireland have ever before taken part.

BIM’s ‘Taste the Atlantic – a Seafood Journey’ trail, co funded by the EU and the Government under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), is headline partner to the Joan Mulloy – Team Ireland 2018 challenge.

The trail, developed in partnership with Fáilte Ireland, is designed to educate people as to how Irish seafood is caught and farmed sustainably along the Wild Atlantic Way.

BIM chief executive Jim O’Toole explains the rationale behind the sponsorship: “Joan grew up working on her father’s mussel farm in Clew Bay and her knowledge of the seafood sector and her clear passion for the sea makes her sailing initiative a great fit for BIM and Irish seafood. I would like to wish Joan the very best of luck as she trains for this extraordinary challenge.”

The famously gruelling single handed ‘Le Figaro’ race takes place at the end of August and involves four legs, ranging from two to five days at sea, sailing day and night.

Over 40 identical boats will compete, the majority of which are skippered by the best French sailors, who lead the world in single-handed sailing.

Joan Mulloy explains what this challenge means to her: “Being the first Irish female sailor to compete in the famous Solitaire du Figaro is an honour and would not be possible without the support we have received from BIM. This is as competitive as solo sailing gets so it's going to be an amazing learning experience out there on the racecourse.”

Joan will act as a Taste the Atlantic ambassador promoting the trail throughout the year, culminating in her appearance at the BIM Seafood Exhibition at the annual SeaFest in Galway from 29 June.

Visitors to Ireland's national maritime festival will get the opportunity to get on board Joan’s impressive yacht to see first-hand how she will undertake the Figaro challenge.

“The Solitaire du Figaro will be the racing highlight but I cannot wait to explore the west coast of Ireland throughout the year,” she said. “Having the boat in Galway for SeaFest is going to provide a really great platform to meet thousands of people and tell them about solo sailing and Irish seafood, two of my favourite things!”

Published in Figaro

At 18.00 on a cold Friday January evening, west of Ireland solo sailor Joan Mulloy tied up her new Figaro II up in Dun Laoghaire after a 48–hour sail from Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

In what is a first for an Irish sailing, a female sailor is now one step closer to competing in what is often described as the most competitive solo race series in the world, the Solitaire du Figaro.

Joan has a  CV that begins with long hours working on the family mussel farm in Clew Bay, and then goes on to include professional engineering roles and in more recent times some sailing adventures and technical positions.

On her arrival in Ireland Joan said: “Having worked on other solo campaigns for the past few years it is a dream come true to now be at the helm of my own boat. We are a long way from the starting line and the goal now is to engage sponsors and supporters during our time in Ireland in order to allow me and my team to map out the season ahead.”
Joan is hopeful of securing a number of sponsors and partners that will then dictate the season ahead. To date a number of private individuals and companies have helped her get to this point but a lot more funding is required in the coming months.

The season will include various activation events for the sponsors along with intensive Figaro training in France and off the west coast of Ireland. The highlight of the season will be competing against approximately 40 other identical Figaro II boats in August off the north coast of France. Amongst Joan’s competition will be Vendee Globe skippers, mini transat sailors and aspiring solo circumnavigators.

Joan’s campaign is managed under the ‘Team Ireland’ brand first associated with Enda O’Coineen’s Vendee Globe entry. According to a statement,Team Ireland says 'it is providing the professional platform for solo sailors that will enable companies to have the confidence to back these exciting ventures'. Gregor McGuckin’s Golden Globe Race entry is also receiving support from Team Ireland as the countdown to that epic race draws near.

Joan will be in Dublin for the coming weeks and is welcoming anyone interested to come down and visit the boat. There will also be sailing opportunities for supporters and prospective sponsors. 

Published in Figaro

There have been several Irish offshore racing sailors who have been making national and world headlines for some years now, but in recent weeks and months the wave of new enthusiasm for the big ticket events has surged to fresh heights.

One of the stories underlying all this is the potential for a specialist marine industry base in Cork Harbour serving the continuous needs of the most advanced racing machines, and providing a launch pad for global campaigns. The idea has been around for some time now, but as reported in Afloat.ie as long ago as April 1st 2015, while the goodwill may be there, a firm decision is still awaited.

Local minister Simon Coveney has since moved on from the Marine to other Government departments. His present very senior role in representing Ireland through the Department of Foreign Affairs in decidedly turbulent times will mean that the needs of something so difficult to gauge for significant political and economic benefits will scarcely be top priority.

Yet for the many leading Irish sailors – both men and women – who have launched themselves into the decidedly uncertain world of top level professional competition, the problem of resources and facilities to keep the show on the road is always present, and frequently at crisis levels. W M Nixon wonders how there is going to be enough in the sponsorship pot – both nationally and globally – to help them all fulfill their dreams.

On Tuesday, Afloat.ie received confirmation of a “virtual press conference” in Cork, in other words a clearcut announcement that Nin O’Leary’s co-skippering of the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss with Alex Thompson was going to move on to a full-blooded Vendee Globe campaign by O’Leary himself, possibly with a new boat.

coveney thomson hosford2The then Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, Hugo Boss skipper Alex Thomson, and Stewart Hosford at the announcement in Cork in 2015 of a possible international offshore racing hub on Haulbowline Island.

In the meantime, the word on the waterfront is that the two skippers may do the two-handed Barcelona World Race 2018 in the current boat. But beyond that, the campaign plan for the charismatic O’Leary, mentored by Thomson and orchestrated by Stewart Hosford, is rumoured to be the building up of enough resources to keep this boat, yet also build a new one.

This is because the boat is still almost state-of-the-art, she has some features still absent in other boats, and could be serious opposition in someone else’s hands. Thus the ideal scenario is to maintain control of their current technology and design, while moving on to the next stage of development with an even more advanced boat for the Vendee Globe in 2020.

nin oleary3Nin O’Leary – a charismatic figure for Ireland’s younger sailors

We’re talking mega-bucks here, and the relationship with Hugo Boss has been very fruitful, but the elephant in the room - which hasn’t been mentioned yet - is how long will the Hugo Boss sponsorship continue?

This may all become clearer within the next ten days, as Thomson, O’Leary and Hugo Boss are headed for Ireland, with Cork in their sights on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th August, and then they’re in Dun Laoghaire for a very public appearance on Wednesday August 30th, and staying until the Friday, September 1st for the ongoing launch of their new brand Ireland Ocean Racing.

This puts them top of the billboards. But we mustn’t let it blind us to the hopes of other campaigners, and on Thursday of this week, Tom Dolan made his final public appearance in Ireland before returning to France for the countdown towards the start of the Mini Transat 2017 from La Rochelle at the beginning of October.

tom dolan boat4Although Tom Dolan has some sponsorship for IRL 910, there is still a shortfall in funding for the Mini Transat 2017 which starts at the beginning of October from La Rochelle

tom dolan and friends5Tom Dolan (right) and fellow skippers in the Mini 650 class at Concarneau. The camaraderie and mutual help among the sailors contributes to France’s dominant position in short-handed sailing

Although Tom has some support backers whose logos appear on his sails, he makes no bones about his overall situation, as his Pogo 3, IRL 910, currently enters races under the name of “Still Seeking a Sponsor”. Whether his presentation in the National YC on Thursday will turn on any money taps in Ireland remains to be seen, the fact is that it’s in France he makes most impact. But in Dun Laoghaire, his burning enthusiasm left an abiding impression, for although his chosen life-path may be more exciting than running the small family farm in Meath, there are times when it’s a massive struggle.

Tom is one of several Irish international offshore wannabees and established skippers who have made a point of having the cup of coffee with Marcus Hutchinson. Hutchinson has transformed himself from being a young sailor who first learned his craft in Howth into an international sailing campaign management figure who maintains his Irish connections through Kinsale, yet is now a key presence at the French-led cutting edge of specialist offshore programmes.

Marcus hutchinson6Marcus Hutchinson is first Port of Call for anyone seriously contemplating a short-handed offshore campaign

It’s rumoured that in Brittany he has access to a large warehouse full of IMOCA 60s and Open 40s and whatnot. What we do know for sure is that he was very much the background force in Paul Meilhat’s stunning victory in the IMOCA 60 SMA in the recent Rolex Fastnet Race, a neatly-read campaign whose success was highlighted by the inescapable fact that Hugo Boss finished eighth out of the nine IMOCA 60s competing.

SMA with her dagger boards was optimized for windward work, whereas Hugo Boss with her foils most emphatically wasn’t. But while those in the know are aware of this, Joe Public simply sees the final results and takes it from there.

sma fastnet7The Marcus Hutchinson-managed SMA was convincing winner of the IMOCA 60 Class in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017. Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Marcus Hutchinson’s deep well of sound advice is available to those who seek him out, and he is generous with his knowledge and sensible thoughts. Talking to Afloat.ie yesterday morning, he made the point that of the current wave of French superstars in the bigger boats, many have done the Figaro Solo at least a dozen times, and he reckons that setting out to take on the Vendee Globe straight from a career – however successful – in fully-crewed boats, is akin to taking on Everest solo without first trying a few smaller mountains on your own.

The list of those specialist sailors from Ireland who have made a point of seeking advice and assistance at some stage from Marcus Hutchinson is both impressive and fascinating, as it includes Damian Foxall, Justin Slattery, Enda O'Coineen, David Kenefick, Joan Mulloy, Sean McCarter, Tom Dolan and most recently Conor Fogerty.

joan mulloy8Joan Mulloy of Westport in County Mayo has secured a Figaro through Marcus Hutchinson, but still requires sponsorship

david kenefick9David Kenefick of Cork is another solo sailor who was guided into the Figaro Class by Marcus Hutchinson

And a salient fact which emerges in talking to some of them is the thought that while the Alex Thomson/Hugo Boss campaign was impressive, its central ethos of being stand-alone was ultimately counter-productive.

Two of the lone skippers mentioned above went so far as to say that if the Hugo Boss campaign had been prepared to mix it a bit more with the strongholds of French single-handed sailing in Brittany, then they would have won the Vendee Globe instead of coming second.

That’s undoutedly one for the speculation mill. But it gets a certain reinforcement from a statement this week from Nin O’Leary, to the effect that moving the base from Portsmouth to Cork would have the beneficial result of making the major French centres seem more accessible, as there’s almost a feeling of being trapped in the Eastern Solent, whereas in Cork it’s open water – and open thinking - all the way to Ushant and beyond.

This desire for open water and open thinking is spreading. One of the most interesting news items of recent weeks was that Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy hoped to secure a berth aboard Dee Caffari’s Volvo 65 for the up-coming Volvo World Race. Unfortunately the knee injury Murphy exacerbated with a spectacular capsize at the conclusion of becoming the International Moth Women’s World Champion 2017 on Lake Garda has put that idea on hold, but this shift of interest from the grind of Olympic training on a tedious four year cycle to the more stimulating world of big-time offshore stuff, with maior events coming up in rapid succession, reflects a discernible pattern of changing public awareness.

turn the tide on plastic10The new Volvo 65 Turn the Tide on Plastic. Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy had to defer taking up a berth on Dee Caffari’s Volvo 65 because of a knee injury sustained during a capsize in the Moth Worlds at Lake Garda

So Olympic sailing, ever mindful of the need to continue to attract public attention by whatever means, is going to include a test offshore series, probably for two person boats, in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

This is of particular interest to any Irish sailor desperately seeking sponsorship, for the reality is that on our island, there are only half a dozen sports – if that - which are big enough to make an impact on their own. The minority sports - sailing included - only figure significantly in public awareness if they come up in the Olympic searchlight.

That Olympic searchlight in turn encourages others to get involved, thereby stretching the cloak of sponsorship ever thinner. So it will be some time, if ever, before we see a joint approach to the challenge of raising sponsorship for this branch of sailing. And Heaven knows, but it’s difficult enough to get an effective short-handed sailing campaign of international standard up to speed without the endless worry of finding the money. Yet that’s the way it is. But if you really do find the challenge irresistible, Afloat.ie’s advice is to make arrangements to have a cup of coffee with Marcus Hutchinson before you do anything else.

Published in W M Nixon
Page 3 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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