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Rumball's Offshore Racing Academy Focuses on Explosion in Shorthanded Scene

31st January 2022
Kinsale's Matthew Beecher has had one to one coaching sessions on the Figaro 3 with Kenny Rumball of the Offshore Racing Academy
Kinsale's Matthew Beecher has had one to one coaching sessions on the Figaro 3 with Kenny Rumball of the Offshore Racing Academy

Kenny Rumball on January activities of his newly formed Offshore Racing Academy 

The offshore shorthanded racing scene has exploded and is racing away without any signs of slowing down.

Countless numbers of IMOCAs and Class 40s are in build ahead of the upcoming Route du Rhum and also the next Vendee Globe in 2024, so where do we fit in?

We’re mainly focusing this year on the Figaro 3; the founding fleet for the best sailors in the offshore world! It’s almost a right of passage, to be considered competitive in the Class 40 or even IMOCA fleets first you have to have been competitive in La Solitaire du Figaro.

I  have completed one so far with no focused training before due to the outbreak of Covid in 2020, to even get on the start line that year was an achievement! With the learning from this, we’re fulfilling our aims and goals to lend a helping hand and guidance to rookies coming into the most demanding, competitive and intense one-design offshore fleet in the world!

"To be considered competitive in Class 40 first you have to have been competitive in La Solitaire du Figaro"

This January 2022, we have hit the ground running, before the obligatory Christmas break, we had assisted the Raw campaign of Conor Fogerty in delivering his Figaro 3 by sea and his cradle in the team van and trailer setup, early January saw us crack into fitting out, optimising and ensuring his boat was class legal for the season ahead. With this work in progress, we also focused some time on the water with Matthew Beecher of Kinsale by getting some one on one boat handling practise and coaching in Port La Foret, the birthplace of solo offshore racing in France.

Using our considerable network of contacts in the industry in France and with thanks to the victory of Yannick Besthaven in the last Vendee Globe who hails from La Rochelle, we were the first to hear of the new Pole La Rochelle Course au Large. In France the ‘Pole’s are sailing centres of excellence, combining all the necessary elements to compete at the highest level. State of the art classrooms, gymnasiums, coach boats and a boat support network, there is nothing that has not been thought about already.

Offshore Racing Academy Founder Kenny Rumball (left) with Matthew BeecherOffshore Racing Academy Founder Kenny Rumball (left) with Matthew Beecher

But don’t take our word for it, Matthew Beecher accounts on late January;

January with The Offshore Racing Academy was busy, challenging and super rewarding. I kicked off the month with a couple of days of solo manoeuvre practice in Port la Foret, "the birthplace of solo offshore racing", on my Figaro 3 in preparation for some more one to one coaching sessions with Kenny Rumball. We then got to work preparing the boat for an intense training block with Pole La Rochelle. For my first solo passage I delivered "Han" down to La Base Lorient (the current home of short-handed offshore sailing) where I met up with Kenny once again, and a day later we started the 20 hour double handed delivery down to La Rochelle. There is a few different training groups for Figarists around France, and thankfully the Offshore Racing Academy had already established a relationship with the coach and sailors in the "Pole La Rochelle" training group.

Over a week, Coach Etienne facilitated multiple small races, speed tests, manoeuvre drills and classroom sessions. There was 4 boats and 6 sailors involved, a mixture of rookies, established class members and seasoned professionals (one of them is here to train for the Vendee Globe 2024!).

As a Figaro Rookie, all of this is new and strange to me. I feel like this massive goal for me would be completely unattainable if I were here in France on my own, especially considering my lack of French, shoreside resources, local knowledge and awareness of this completely different sailing culture that exists and thrives here in France. I am here to become the best offshore sailor that I can be, and this means I need to put my pride and ego aside and trust the experience of the Offshore Racing Academy. Kenny Rumball and Marcus Hutchinson both value the sailing culture here very highly, and are always setting up valuable introductions for me to get a better awareness of how all of this works. The resources available through the Offshore Racing Academy are absolutely invaluable. Important contacts, technical sponsors, a van, a trailer, spare equipment and most importantly people to bounce ideas off of and offer well-founded advice. I am extremely grateful for the help I have received from the Academy as I begin to find my footing in this extremely competitive industry.

Kenny and Marcus also offered me lots of valuable advice on how to approach the business side of offshore racing. Finding the money to make my solo racing dream happen consumes a lot of my time, and I feel fortunate to be able to associate my campaign with an Academy which specialises in this industry. I look forward to welcoming more partners on board with my campaign, so that I can continue to engage with the Academy and take my sailing to the next level. By the way, sailing in January is absolutely freezing!

February is upon us, no time left to waste, this week, we are with Lorient Grand Large, La Rochelle at the end of the week, and there are rumours we’ll be on the start line of the Dublin Bay Spring Chicken Series on Sunday in 1720 sportsboat!

That’s all for now!


Published in INSS
Kenneth Rumball

About The Author

Kenneth Rumball

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Kenny Rumball is the Principal of the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. He is a multi dinghy champion and offshore sailor. In 2018 he was awarded the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Seamanship Trophy for a Man Overboard Rescue in the Round Ireland Race. In May 2020 he embarked on a mixed offshore doublehanded keelboat campaign with Pamela Lee.

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The Irish National Sailing and Powerboat School is based on Dun Laoghaire's West Pier on Dublin Bay and in the heart of Ireland's marine leisure capital.

Whether you are looking at beginners start sailing course, a junior course or something more advanced in yacht racing, the INSS prides itself in being able to provide it as Ireland's largest sailing school.

Since its establishment in 1978, INSS says it has provided sailing and powerboat training to approximately 170,000 trainees. The school has a team of full-time instructors and they operate all year round. Lead by the father and son team of Alistair and Kenneth Rumball, the school has a great passion for the sport of sailing and boating and it enjoys nothing more than introducing it to beginners for the first time. 

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Set up by Alistair Rumball in 1978, the sailing school had very humble beginnings, with the original clubhouse situated on the first floor of what is now a charity shop on Dun Laoghaire's main street. Through the late 1970s and 1980s, the business began to establish a foothold, and Alistair's late brother Arthur set up the chandler Viking Marine during this period, which he ran until selling on to its present owners in 1999.

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