In association with Irish Sailing
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.
The race has previously called to Ireland to the following ports; Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.
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.