Paris is big enough and busy enough to accommodate the unrest of the Gilets Jaunes in one part of the city, and yet continue to run an International Boat Show in another part of town, a boat show which is the focus of world sailing every year in the early part of December writes W M Nixon
The 2018 Paris Boat Show currently underway has seen an unprecedented level of Irish involvement, with Gerry Salmon and John O’Kane of MGM Boats in town for the unveiling of the new Jeanneau Sunfast 3300 and other up-to-the-minute goodies from their comprehensive range of suppliers, while the high octane energy provided by La Solitaire URGO Figaro has already seen the focus close in on the annual offshore racing awards ceremony.
This saw our own Tom Dolan up there with a coveted podium place for his breakthrough as the overall third rookie (bizuth) in the Figaro 2018 season. Also in town is Joan Mulloy of Mayo, who this year became the first Irishwoman to complete the Figaro Solo, racing the BIM-sponsored Taste the Atlantic, a Figaro 2 which - in a subtle bit of marketing - didn’t actually mention Ireland anywhere in the naming and livery, yet everyone knew it was an Irishwoman at the helm.
In enthusiastic support of our two Figaro sailors is Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and his wife Rosemary. Jack Roy has been hooked on the special challenge which the demanding French short-handed offshore racing scene provides for Irish sailors ever since he went to help provide on-the-spot support for Tom Dolan in the buildup to start of the Minitransat 2017, and his enthusiasm is such that he and Rosemary went to Paris at their own expense. Yet there’s no doubting that the presence of the main man in Irish sailing has been adding some real power to the impact made by our sailors, and their hopes and plans.
One of the highlights of the show saw the focus on the Beneteau stand, where the draw was made for the 50 new foiling Figaro 3s for 2019’s Golden Jubilee series – the first 50 are either already built, or nearing completion, with the fleet accumulating in a compound near Nantes. The draw confirmed that one each will go to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy, and by April the word is that a third one will go the way of Ireland’s current “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty of Howth, though instead of focusing on the Figaro circuit, he has indicated that initially, he will be seeing what sort of impact the new boat will make introducing young sailors to the Irish Sea offshore racing scene.
Meanwhile, there’s much interest in what the actual course will be for the Figaro 2019, as a head of steam is building up to persuade the organisers that it should come to Cork at some stage. Certainly, Jack Roy has been lobbying with this in mind, and another big beast of the Irish sailing jungle, Enda O Coineen, has been prowling through the Paris Boat Show in support of the same mission.