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Learning point this year! Take a break, and accommodate rest into your programme.

Kenny was very much told this at the start of the year, but like most stubborn offshore sailors, he politely chose to ignore it and quickly learnt why.

After the successful Round Ireland race on Darkwood, there was hardly a few days before he was off to the airport on another race, this time coaching a brand new Sunfast 3300 for a Polish owner based in France.

Believe the hype, folks; Dublin Airport to travel from at the beginning of July was as the media portrayed… NUTS! Despite many travel delays, Kenny made it to the familiar La Trinite Sur Mer for the La Trinite to Cowes race, approximately 300 miles sailing double-handed on a brand new, out-of-the-box Jeanneau SunFast 3300. Kenny's brief was to figure out the performance of this boat and coach the Polish Skipper with offshore racing shorthanded. The course was familiar to Kenny, up through a regular route of the North West of France as experienced many times in the Figaro Circuit.

Onboard the SF330 for La Trinite to CowesOnboard the SF330 for La Trinite to Cowes

A quick lunch with fellow competitor Tom Dolan from the Figaro where the advice was, 'Just sail it like the Figaro!' That they did, showing impressive speed compared to the other 3300s. Kenny and his student used their fractional code 0 sail to its full advantage right from the start in LA Trinite. A navigational error by Penmarch put the duo on the back foot but using Adrena software to its full advantage; these errors put the SunFast 3300 MyWay to the top again, coming through the notorious tidal passage through the Pointe du Raz!

With the tide turning against them after 'The Raz', sailing through the rock around the 'Chenal du Four', the duo put significant miles on their competitors that they held to Cowes! A successful maiden race for the boat and a happy owner that now had a complete sail selection plan and updated polars on Adrena thanks to Kenny's coaching efforts…

Keeping rest in mind, Kenny flew directly from Cowes to Cork for Cork Week to sail his coveted 1720… A great break from offshore sailing and a chance to sail inshore with friends despite the wait due to Covid over the last few years, Cork Week did not disappoint! We're keeping the focus on Offshore sailing, but check out the video from the week below…. 

After Cork Week, Kenny finally took some rest away from sailing ahead of the last warm-up event before the year's culmination, the Solitaire du Figaro! This warm-up event is the Solo Concarneau, a 400-mile sprint and the last time to check sail selections and settings and experiment before the Solitaire.

Some young visitors arrive to the Solo Concarneau boat parkSome young visitors arrive to the Solo Concarneau boat park

Kenny's boat, number 20 through the Academy, had been on charter to a Swiss team for the Dhream Cup in France. A few days of prep work were needed before the event. While most people spend their birthdays with fun activities and relaxation, it was business as usual in Port La Foret, cleaning and polishing before the Solo Concarneau.

With relatively strong winds forecast, the Figaro fleet merged in Concarneau for this last shakedown test; many skippers opted to change from using their new sails for the Solitaire to using slightly older sails so as not to put the new sails through unwanted stress or put anything at risk before the Solitaire. A modified course took the skippers out of Concarneau, north through the notorious tidal passage of the Raz de Sein, just southwest of Quessant before a long southerly leg to Les Sables d'Olonne before a return leg back up North to Concarneau, with the current weather forecast it was essentially a beat North, broad reach south before a fetch back home.

The Solo Concarneau prizegivingThe Solo Concarneau prizegiving

For Kenny, the race was about getting back into the boat, feeling like Bambi off the start; Kenny was disappointed with silly mistakes in the Port La Foret Bay. However, he quickly got back into it, taking place slowly but surely at every stage of the race. Gaining through the night but the Northmost mark, Kenny rounded alongside fellow Irish countryman Tom Dolan. Downwind towards Les Sables via the Birvideaux lighthouse, Kenny picked off places one by one with promising boatspeed, meaning Tom and Kenny crossed paths again at the Petit Barge buoy off Les Sables.

Wind dying as forecast on the way into Concarneau, Kenny crossed the line in 17th position out of 34 starters, a solid result for a shakedown event.

There is not much time before the year's main event for the Figaro fleet, the Solitaire du Figaro! The 2000-mile solo marathon is no joke. This event kicks off next week; check back later for a full update; in the meantime, Kenny and the rest of the Solo Sailors will be found resting and sleeping!

Published in INSS

After the Allmer Cup in Le Havre, France it was supposed to be somewhat of a rest after an intense few months of Figaro training and racing, however as previously reported, not so...

The Offshore Racing Academy was supporting the Luzerne Communications under 25 team for the SSE Round Ireland Race. The young team arrived in France and collected the academy’s boat number 20 to bring it back to Ireland for the race. We’ll here from them in their own words…

We had a very busy month of June, we started by travelling to Le Havre to collect the Figaro 3 after the Allmer cup. We were met on the dock by Kenny and Marcus where we prepped the boat for the delivery after it had been racing for the previous week. The delivery was a perfect shake-down for the crew to practice our manoeuvres and sail changes with only two up on deck as we would be doing for the race itself. We experienced a very varied set of conditions with quite a lot of light airs, which proved to be very beneficial preparations for the race ahead.

The Luzerne Communications under 25 team for the SSE Round Ireland RaceThe Luzerne Communications under 25 team for June's SSE Round Ireland Race Photo: afloat

Kenny was home for a brief period before heading to the UK to compete in the Myth of Malham race on Darkwood the J121 as the last training race for the team ahead of the Round Ireland.

Thanks to water ballast, the Darkwood J121 crew was able to sail with just six crew Photo: AfloatThanks to water ballast, the Darkwood J121 crew was able to sail with just six crew Photo: Afloat

The Myth of Malham went well for the team, much nicer conditions than Kenny experienced only a week before on the Allmer Cup. Downwind to the Eddystone in 15kts of steady wind before a mostly fetch home. Unfortunately, while in a great placing only 20 miles from the finish a 40-degree shift in the wind direction favoured their competitors and any hope of a class win in the race evaporated.

Meanwhile on the Figaro; We competed in the ISORA race on the 11th of June as another shakedown this time in a racing environment. With only 3 crew due to illness we were very pleased with how well we raced. Coming third in line honours and fourth in IRC overall

The U25 team sailed three crew for June's warm-up ISORA raceThe U25 team sailed three crew for June's warm-up ISORA race Photo: Afloat

Finally, it was time for some rest and recuperation for Kenny ahead of the Round Ireland and to spend some time ensuring the youth team on the Figaro were set up for the challenge! These two weeks flew by, with a nice mixture of time off, exercise and preparation for the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race, ensuring both Darkwood the J121 was ready as well as the youth team on the Figaro.

There is a special mention here to Teresa and the team at the Pure Magic Lodge in Achill where Kenny headed for a few days of rest and kitesurfing on Achill Island. Teresa and the team pulled out all the stops to ensure an awesome rest and stay out west! Relaxed atmosphere, incredible food, live music and comfortable accommodation, highly recommended for some rest… and kitesurfing!

This year’s Round Ireland for Kenny was a coming together of great friends and different Round Ireland campaigns for the last three editions. The main connecting skipper in the puzzle was Mr Michael Boyd who for this edition brought together his dream team for the 2022 edition. For this edition, Michael Boyd partnered with Michael O’Donnell, the owner of the J121 Darkwood where both sailors had the shared ambition of getting on the top rung of the podium of the Round Ireland Race. Nick Jones from whom Micael Boyd had chartered Lisa from in the 2016 edition was on board with the primary role of navigator.

Barry Hurley also sailed in the 2016 edition on Lisa and was on board with the primary role of driver. Conor Kinsella with whom Kenny and Conor have had multiple offshore success together on Lynx and Jedi joined the crew as a driver/trimmer and bowman. Finally, Kenny was onboard as Michael had chartered Jedi for the 2018 edition with a very competitive campaign hampered by the unfortunate man overboard incident, there was some unfinished business in this race for both sailors. The J121 is a unique boat in that it is water ballasted meaning despite the boat being some 40 ft in length and very powerful, there was only a need for 6 crew! With three training races and thousands of miles of cumulative offshore experience onboard, Darkwood was in a very good position going into the race!

From left are Barry Hurley, Darkwood skipper Michael Boyd, Conor Kinsella, Barry Hurley and Nick Jones. Not pictured is Kenny RumballFrom left are Barry Hurley, Darkwood skipper Michael Boyd, Conor Kinsella, Barry Hurley and Nick Jones. Not pictured is Kenny Rumball Photo: Afloat

From Luzerncomm U 25; The few days leading up to the race were spent on preparations. With full standing and running rigging inspections done as well as a lift where we sprayed the underside and polished the rudders, foils and keel. We collated and organized our freeze dry food as well as our snacks and water.

The Round Ireland is a special race, and it was great after a two-year absence for the race to be back with the backing of SSE Renewables. The night before the race there was a little Offshore Racing Academy BBQ in Greystones to mark the race and for the crews o Darkwood and the Figaro to relax and get well fed before the start the next day.

The start of the race was a lovely 10-15kts downwind for the fleet away from Wicklow, onboard Darkwood, the crew were content to get away from the line clean and rounding Wicklow Head were in the position they wanted to be. Despite an unfavourable forecst the widn stayed with the fleet and at the first turning mark, Tuskar Rock, Darkwood made it around with the tide heading east along the South Coast in a dying breeze. Through the night, there were various sail changes as the wind increased, decreased and shifted but remained mostly Northerly in direction. With good winds and rhumb line sailing, the next mark on the course, the Fastnet was rounded in near-record time!

A Round Ireland is not complete without some sort of bad weather and after the Fastnet, as Darkwood started to tighten the sails into full upwind mode, the wind strengthened…. Knowing this wind was coming, the crew was well-rested and fed prior to the strong incoming winds and as such, there was little drama on board. Unfortunately while reefing the J3 headsail, the leech line tore and with no other sail left in the wardrobe, Darkwood was forced to sail under performance for a few hours as the only sail left in the wardrobe was the storm jib. Darkwood was possibly the only boat to reduce so much sail area but still relatively fast and most importantly, comfortable in the conditions.

Despite the conditions, during the night Darkwood managed to make the first pass on what would become a fun battle for the IRC1 class win by overtaking Samaton. Unfortunately, the IRC1 and overall favourite INO suffered irreparable damage in the rough conditions and had to withdraw from the race off the Skelligs. By mid-morning, the winds had shifted westwards and Darkwood was back to rhumb line sailing towards Eagle Island. The sun came out and the crew took the opportunity to dry out sodden kit and more importantly dry out a sodden boat after the nights exploits. The next challenge was to make it through the tidal gate at Rathlin in a fickle westerly breeze due to last through the night and into the next day. Here the duel between Samton and Darkwood intensified as Samaton was able to sail a very deep, low mode and managed to by Rathlin regain the lead on the water from Darkwood in IRC1. However, Darkwood rates lower than Samaton and as such managed to keep the lead on corrected time. Both boats made it through the tidal gate and as such thought they had put an uncatchable lead on the rest of the fleet as other contenders for the overall win such as Rockabill and Snapshot were caught the wrong side of the tidal gate at Rathlin.

However, the wind in the Irish Sea had other intentions. The fleet would have to contend with light fickle northerly winds that would evaporate to nothing before lighter winds would come in from the south, effectively compressing the fleet and meaning the advantage of the tidal gate pass was only short-lived. Thankfully the well-rested and well-fed crew on board Darkwood revelled in the lighter conditions. Despite Samaton and one stage getting far enough ahead of Darkwood, by the finish this advantage was down to less than two nautical miles.

The Figaro experience; Our start was relatively conservative due to our foils. We started on port tack and found a nice gap where we began to head south down the coast. We had our A2 spinnaker up until Tusker rock where the wind died almost completely. We spent an hour or two slowly drifting towards the rock before the wind filled back in. Once past Tusker the wind filled in and we popped our A5 up. We rocketed towards the Fastnet rock and even overtook quite a number of other boats, hitting a top boat speed of 19knots. As we rounded the southwest coast we were quickly met by some large swells and heavy winds.

At one point we saw gusts of 42knots. We soldiered through with one reef in our mainsail and our full j2. We got battered for about 24 hours straight. Unfortunately, as the wind subsided the wind remained northerly. Which for us meant more close-hauled sailing. We continued sailing upwind around the north coast till we reached Rathlin. We finally got the chance to pop our A2 again, unfortunately, we had missed the tidal window but managed to sneak through by staying extremely close to the coastline. We continued on our A2 until Belfast Lough where again the breeze shut off on us. We were left sitting in 0.3 knots of wind and zero knots of boat speed. It wasn’t until we got down to Downpatrick that the breeze finally kicked back in. Again it was upwind sailing all the way to the finish line in Wicklow.

After very trying and testing conditions in the last 10 miles of the race, Darkwood literally drifted over the finish line off Wicklow in the early morning hours after nearly 5 full days at sea! Relief that we had secured a class win but now the waiting game started as we waited for the other boats to finish to determine the overall results and perhaps more importantly to see if Michael Boyd had over three editions secured strong enough finishes to win a Volvo car.

IRC 1: 1st Darkwood skippered by Michael Boyd (with trophy and a Volvo car!)IRC 1: 1st Darkwood skippered by Michael Boyd (with trophy and a Volvo car!)

After a nail-biting day, the results were in, Darkwood had finished 3rd overall under corrected time, won IRC1 after a brief trip to the protest room and Michael Boyd would be heading home with the keys to a new Volvo! Great result for a well-thought-out and executed campaign, not forgetting of course that Darkwood, Snapshot and Rockabill had secured the team prize!

The Luzerne Communications Figaro 3 Round Ireland crew were a group of 4 under 23-year-olds. Lorcan Tighe (22) (left), Andrew Irvin (22) Cian Crowe (19) Ronan Mooney (19), with an average age of 20 and a skipper aged 22 Photo: AfloatThe Luzerne Communications Figaro 3 Round Ireland crew were a group of 4 under 23-year-olds. Lorcan Tighe (22) (left), Andrew Irvin (22) Cian Crowe (19) Ronan Mooney (19), with an average age of 20 and a skipper aged 22 Photo: Afloat

The Figaro wrap-up; It was an incredible experience sailing a Figaro 3 around Ireland as a group of 4 under 23 year-olds. Lorcan Tighe (22) Andrew Irvin (22) Cian Crowe (19) Ronan Mooney (19), with an average age of 20 and a skipper aged 22. We are immensely proud of what we achieved coming 4th in our class and being the first U23 team to complete the race. Unfortunately, it was a light wind and upwind race which didn’t suit the Figaro but such is offshore racing, we can’t have perfect conditions all of the time.

A massive thank you must be extended to the offshore racing academy and Marcus Hutchinson for the use of the Figaro 3 as well as the constant support during the month of June, it has been an amazing glimpse into the world of professional offshore racing. We also have to thank all of our sponsors who have made this race campaign possible as well as the consistent support of friends and family.

Published in INSS

The rescheduled Offshore Racing Academy Weather Routing Lecture will run this Wednesday 15th June 2022 at 7 pm, just two days before the Round Ireland Race from Wicklow.

Originally it was envisaged to run this programme focusing solely on Expedition and Adrena, however, with the upcoming Round Ireland Race on the 18th of June it has been decided to run this course with a focus on routings for this race and look at other apps and online programs that can also help you achieve superior performance in the Round Ireland race this year.

Kenny RumballKenny Rumball

Weather routing software to be accurate requires a combination of highly accurate computer-generated information including;

  • Wind Data Models, know as GRIBS
  • Tide and Current information
  • Polars
  • Accuarate Navigational Hazards

Not only will the lecture cover the software, but it is also equally important to discuss the pitfalls of some hardware options! Kenny will reveal the secret solutions that are tried and tested in the professional offshore sailing scene in France.

The seminar is free to those that have already signed up to this lecture in the past and also the lecture on ‘Getting the most from your Offshore Racing’ but the modest cost of €30 will apply to new sign-ups.

To sign up, please follow this link here

Published in INSS

Here's a May update from the Offshore Academy, it's been a bumper month so let’s get you caught up! This month was primarily focused around the Allmer Cup in Le Havre but that’s not to mention, there were plenty of adventures along the way! Feel free to send on our adventures to others that may be interested!

Offshore racing is all about the racing, well yes but what can be lost behind the fanfare, flags and most reports is the logistical challenges that are there behind these projects…. For the Le Havre Allmer Cup this year, we were faced with the necessity to move the boat, van trailer and assist three other Figaros to get from Port La Foret, our home port, up around North Western France, across the Cherbourg peninsula and to Le Havre, a 300nm delivery, 5 hours by road or nearly 3 days on the boat, not ideal rest before a solo offshore event.

Faced with light winds for the delivery, it was obvious we would be spending a lot of time under the engine so with extra diesel cans on board, we left Port La Foret in the early hours of the morning with the intention of heading directly to Le Havre, with the potential to stop in Roscoff or Cherbourg for a pit stop. We had a convoy of myself, Conor Fogerty of Ireland on his boat RAW, Tiphaine and Ahmad on Pier Cophams boat, Voile Des Agnes and Sanni Beucke would be joining us along the way as she was coming from Lorient, about 30 miles south of Port La Foret.

Those who sail regularly will know the potential risk of lots of time under engine due to light and fickle winds, there is the huge risk of runner over and getting fouled in Lobster pot markers, this risk is increased ten fold when at night when it is impossible to see the markers. As our delivery had seen little to no wind, we had as a group decided to make a pit stop in Roscoff to get some rest and top up on diesel. About midnight in the pitch-black dark of night, thankfully only 2 miles from Roscoff but very close to the island of Ile De Batz the engine came to a very sudden and abrupt stop! Being in the dead of night it was very hard to see how badly the propellor was wrapped but worryingly there were two narrow aluminium, staffs running out from the back of the propellor, this was no simple wrap! Here we were in the dead of night, disabled in no wind but close to Roscoff but in notoriously fast-flowing and dangerous tides. My training group from La Rochelle had pulled into Roscoff a day earlier so thankfully Alexi Thomas and Swann answered my desperate phone call for help and came out in a RIB to tow me into the safe haven of Roscoff. Tired, relieved, frustrated but most importantly in a safe haven it quickly became apparent that the best course of action was to get some sleep and deal with it in the morning…

The Allmer Cup at Le Havre marinaThe Allmer Cup at Le Havre marina

What came next is just the pinnacle display of kindness and help to a solo sailor in need. Tired and urgently looking to get on the way to Le Havre, I wandered up to the Captainerie (Harbour Master) to explain my plight and look for help. The lady behind the counter immediately understood the situation I was in, faster than I could think, there was a RIB alongside my boat towing me over to the travel hoist to lift the boat out where the staff of the marina and yard were on hand, tools at the ready to free my propellor, before I knew, it, my baot was back in the water on a berth alongside my friends and fellow Figarists, propellor free an dready to continue my delivery when I chose. Somehow I had managed to mow over the flag staff of a lobster pot marker wrapping the aluminium staff of the lobster pot, the equivalent of an Optimist sprit, around my propellor shaft 3 times…. I cannot thank the staff of marina in Roscoff for their immediate help and gratuity to a foreign solo sailor. I was bowled over when I went into pay for everything and they waived all the bills!!! Tahnkyou!

After all this drama, I quickly came to the realisation it would be best to forgo continuing my delivery that day and spend a night on the marina, have a good meal with my friends from La Rochelle and leave as part of a bigger convoy the next day. A great decision as the rest of the delivery was painless and we arrived in Le Havre incident free 28 hours later. We arrived on the 18th of May, with plenty of time to rest ahead of the Le Havre Allmer Cup.

The Le Havre Allmer Cup is a challenging event with a long offshore stage and two coastal races mixing offshore strategy and sailing with inshore boat handling and intensity. Due to weather complexities and the potential of the Royal Navy practising live firing off the south coast of the UK, our offshore course was subject to change. Yann Chateau was our director of racing and is one the best, he is the model of race director who is totally on top of his game, in touch with competitors and spectators alike and someone I would place full trust in for any offshore race management. Yann gave us an excellent course that would take us out of Le Havre, North to the Needles fairway buoy off the Solent, westerly to Eddystone Lighthouse and the south to a buoy in the channel of the entrance to Roscoff before heading east, through the challengine tides in the channel islands, up over the Cherbourg peninsula and back to le Havre, some 450 miles! The weather forecast was relatively stable which would see light in fickle winds as far as the Needles fairway buoy before and building upwind leg to Eddystone followed by largely downwind reaching and running conditions back to home.

We started the race well rounding in light conditions the first top mark in the top 10 before having a disastrous downwind leg and getting clear to head towards the UK in the bottom 10!!!! In light winds, it became a speed test in reaching conditions with lots of peeling (sail changing) between the gennaker (Code 0) and big spinnaker with no sleep to cross the English Channel north to the Needles Fairway buoy just west of the entrance to the Needles. Despite my best efforts in fleet where there was a lot of expansion and compression of the fleet, I rounded the fleet in the bottom end ahead of a long beat westwards to the Eddystone lighthouse.

Our upwind slog Westwards was long with the complexities of the tide on the South Coast of the UK and the fact that we managed to hit almost every headland against the tide which made the best long, very long, almost 24 hours to the minute to get from the Needles Fairway to the Eddystone lighthouse. There is very little to report on this leg, inshore to get out of the tide, then offshore to get into the tide when preferable to make way west along our route, there was a change to the sailing instructions forcing us to go south of a line between two waypoints as the Royal Navy were using the area for some target practise which caused some fun and amusement along the way.

Finally around 0800 French time after short tacking in off Start Point through the night, we rounded Eddystone lighthouse to be able to make our way south towards what was originally supposed to be a mark off Roscoff but a change in the course meant we were heading slightly further East to a mark called La Jument des Héaux which is about 30 miles east of Roscoff and a mark I remember well from rounding during the Solitaire 2 years ago on the legs in and out of St Breuic! Downwind sailing, sun out, 12-15kts of steady wind allowed time to dry the boat, get some rest and eat some food…. The leg was very straight forward, 145 True Wind Angle the whole way to the mark. Despite the simplicity of the leg, by the bottom mark I had regained 4 places!

A gybe at the mark and then it was a tighter reach along the French coast towards Guernsey, where we thankfully were fighting tide as we approached the channel islands but the good news is that we were then to have the notorious tides around the Cherbourg peninsula with us as we crossed the top of the peninsula, to head back towards le Havre!

The remainder of the race was very straight forward after this with a few gybes over the top of Cherbourg, reaching and running all the way home! In this race I finished up 20th which I was reasonably happy about. The placing was not the most important thing, what was more important was to prove to myself that I had the speed in the relevant areas to be able to sail with the pack and pick off a few places from time to time! Bed time was followed the next day by a Pro-Am day where the two Irish skippers Tom Dolan and Kenny Rumball took some winners or a radio competition racing in J80s off Le Havre, great fun and a fantastic opportunity to get sailing in a relaxed environment!

A Pro-Am day where the two Irish skippers Tom Dolan (second from right) and Kenny Rumball (left)A Pro-Am day where the two Irish skippers Tom Dolan (second from right) and Kenny Rumball (left)

Friday and Saturday were coastal race days, a race a day of about 30 miles. Race one was. A simple loop around the end of the shipping channel in Le Havre and back to a finish line similar to where we finished the offshore. This race was in 15kts of wind mostly, dying to 12kts at the end. A silly mistake at the first windward mark cost a lot of places, however a solid 18th kept me content despite losing a lot of places initially! The final coastal day race on Saturday started with a windy reach and then a long tactical challenging upwind to the nearby port entrance of Antifer before a long run home. I sailed well in this race to post my best result of the series, with a great result of 9th which I was content with but my coach stated that it was about time I sailed to my potential.

With no time to spare, as soon as we hit the dock, it was time to swap sails and get the boat delivered to Ireland for the Round Ireland Race. Luzerne Under 25 team from Ireland had arrived to bring the boat back to Dublin. This is a key component of the Academy. Here we are supporting four U25s in their ques to compete in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland race. The Academy is supporting the team in terms of boat charter, coaching on the water, navigation preparation, food selection etc, exactly what the Academy was setup to do.

A final shakedown race on the J121 DarkwoodA final shakedown race on the J121 Darkwood

No rest for Kenny, I was home for a only a short few days before it was off to the UK for a final shakedown race on Darkwood the J121 which I will be onboard for the Round Ireland this year!

Published in INSS

Another month has raced by in France, the UK and Ireland with projects, programmes and lectures in all countries, all dedicated to offshore yacht racing, learning and development.

March started off with the Classe Figaro Academy training race of which a full report can be read here

In essence, it was incredibly windy with Kenny Rumball and Timothy Long securing a 5th place finish across two races! When we say windy, really windy, 35-40kts coming off the start line, see a video of what the first 12 hours of the race was like below: 

Shortly after this race, there was some relocation to Port la Foret to help out a new Irish JPK 10.30 with father and son duo Justin and Nathan Burke! Enough about what I have to say, here is Justin Burke’s take on the few days I spent with them and some outside sessions we organised…

Most club sailors see racing as part training but to train efficiently you need a coach. Coaching brings structure, a wealth of knowledge and focus. A coach will also bring a measurement/review structure that is rarely done professionally after racing. If you lose the race no one wants to indulge in the blame game and if you win, it's off to the bar.

Having raced FF15 and SB20 over the past 2 decades I recently bought a cruiser-racer boat. Aside from the new format of passage racing, I was confronted with the latest range of electronics. I likened this to making a phone call 20 years ago in a public phone box with press button A and then being handed the later iPhone and expecting to learn on the hoof. You can learn by trial and error if you have the patience and time. But at some stage, you will recognise that the sport of sailing is one of the few sports that does not have a strong and broad infrastructure for coaching. Arranged by the Offshore Racing Academy, Christian Dumard gave an excellent tutorial on how to use Windy, and learn what weather to expect during your passage. Also, we received an in-depth session, on how to use Adrena the most advanced racing navigational software, coupled with this we were given a course on NKE hardware, this included racing with the autohelm. There is no way we would have been able to puzzle this out without professional help. We received on the water coaching, all the time incorporating the NKE and Adrena navigational system. All 3 together were challenging, as it's easier to think you can race by the seat of your pants but when you see what the pros are using, you see there are more options. We also received a review of calibration of equipment and boat set up, all I can say is what you don’t know won't hurt you but will lose you the race.

Cut the learning curve, get coached and enjoy the new knowledge. It might even help your results.

While in Port La Foret, we spent one evening with our initial series of talks ahead of the Irish Offshore circuit for 2022, hosting an evening on an Introduction to Offshore Sailing. This introductory talk was to break down and simplify some of the barriers and misinformation about offshore sailing. We were stunned by the sign-ups with 120 registering interest and 101 attending the online talk! A great two hours with lots of interesting questions and proof there is considerable interest in Offshore racing in Ireland!

With little to no rest, it was off to the UK for a training weekend, back in the world of IRC! Certainly was a step back to familiar territory for Kenneth, sailing back on board a boat with 5 other persons on board! Two 30 miles races Saturday and Sunday, more on this to follow in the next few months!

Back to France for one of the last training weeks before the upcoming Solo Maitre Coq…. We were back in La Rochelle for four days of sailing, mainly focusing on sail testing of the options from the different sailmakers! We had test sails from North Sails, Delta, Incidence and Technique Voile. A superbly interesting week allowing our training group to sail with and investigate the changes in the designs for 2022. This allows us to make informed decisions about our choice of sails for the upcoming season and our main focus the Solitaire du Figaro in August! Don’t worry it’s not always hard work, we treat ourselves from time to time too, see below!

Figaro sailors relaxing at a meal

To say we squeezed a lot in would be an understatement so there was a very welcome return home to Ireland due at the end of the month! To round up the month, we had our second seminar with world-renowned weather router Christian Dumard who showed the huge advantages of and how to use it to its best extent for offshore racing. Once again we had a phenomenal turnout with over eighty sign-ups on our website for the course.

Coming up next we have the Solo Maitre Coq in the month of April, we will give a full report on the race once we have completed it, but to give you a flavour of what we have coming up…

The first event of the 2022 season of the Figaro Bénéteau Class, the Solo Maître Coq will be hosted this year from April 15 to 24 in Les Sables d’Olonne the same port that the Vendee Globe starts and finishes from. This year there is a significant change in that the long offshore race will be run before the in-shore courses to better reflect current events and the return of the Fair-Expo to the Vendée Globe square between April 21 and 24. 

Solo Maître Coq

The Grande Course will take skippers around the islands of Ré, Yeu and Belle-Île. This long offshore course runs North and then back South with a length of approximately 240 nautical miles. It is expected this race will take the skippers approximately three days at sea to complete the course. 

Then, for two days, the skippers will compete on two short courses of approximately 30 miles in the bay of Les Sables d'Olonne, giving spectators the chance to see the Offshore boats and sailors compete within distance of the shore!

For this year, there will be three Irish competitors in the race. Tom Dolan will be back for his fifth turn of this course while Kenneth Rumball will be on his second attempt.  New for 2022 will be Conor Fogerty a well-known and proven offshore sailor!  The full list of sailors can be found here 

Don’t forget to track the competitors here over the course of the offshore and inshore races here

Published in INSS

The Offshore Racing Academy as part of its training seminars is inviting you to attend a fascinating seminar on how to use Windy effectively as a weather forecasting tool for racing and cruising sailors alike.

Windy Training with Christian Dumard Next Tuesday 5th April 2022 7pm - 9pm Irish Time

Windy is the most complete source of weather information available on the internet. In two hours you will learn how to use all the features and combine the different data available to get a quality forecast, whether you are sailing for a day or a multi-day trip.

The course material will be sent to you at the end of the course with a series of exercises to practice.

Christian is a professional router and has worked for many skippers, including the Mini Transat, the Volvo Ocean Race, the Vendée Globe, the Atlantic Back Cruising and many other events. He accompanies more than a hundred cruising yachts every year during their crossings.

He has participated in numerous races (America's Cup, Tour de France à la Voile, Admiral's Cup, ...) and has more than 100 000 miles of cruising experience.

Participants can sign up here 

An online meeting/zoom link will be sent out two hours before the start of the session.

Published in INSS

The SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race is an incredibly well-renowned race for most who are involved in sailing in any respect. Happening only once every two years, it is a very prestigious event steeped in history.

The gruelling 704-nautical-mile race is renowned for its extremely varied and tough conditions. There are some very tricky and taxing tactical decisions to be made throughout the four-to-five-day race.

As if the challenge of a Round Ireland wasn’t enough in itself, attempting to do it as a full U25 crew in a foiling Figaro 3 is an even greater challenge.

But this is exactly what an ambitious crew of four lads from Dublin are in the process of preparing to do, with the aim to be the first boat to complete the race with a fully U25 crew.

Lorcan Tighe, Andrew Irvin, Ronan Mooney and Cian Crowe have a lot of sailing and yachting experience across a broad range of both yachts and dinghies. They are all dinghy, keelboat and powerboat instructors and have been heavily involved in sailing in Dun Laoghaire for some years now.

The idea initially came about over a Christmas pint, as many good ideas do! With the Round Ireland being in June, this didn’t leave a huge amount of time to organise a campaign and get a crew and boat together.

They began scouring online resources for boats for charter in Ireland and the UK, quickly coming across some high-calibre boats but for incredibly expensive charter fees.

Lorcan Tighe, Andrew Irvin, Ronan Mooney and Cian Crowe are getting to grips with the Figaro 3 with mentorship from the Offshore Racing AcademyLorcan Tighe, Andrew Irvin, Ronan Mooney and Cian Crowe are getting to grips with the Figaro 3 with mentorship from the Offshore Racing Academy

After a month or so researching and contacting different charter companies, they got in contact with the Offshore Racing Academy, run by Kenneth Rumball.

The aim of the academy is to make offshore sailing a more accessible discipline for all. After an initial meeting it became apparent the amount of work that this campaign would require, but they were never discouraged or put out by this.

Following some further discussion with Kenneth, it was clear that chartering a Figaro 3 from the academy in France was the way to go. The superior performance of the Figaro 3, coupled with the fact it would require less financing and also include mentorship from the academy, made the decision to go with the Figaro a no-brainer.

The academy provides much more than just a charter boat for the charters; there is constant discussion and conversation in the lead up to the charter about preparations and logistics.

With the academy well established in France now, they provide invaluable insights into the running of a campaign, what it will take to get to the start line in June and race competitively around the island.

The campaign, however, is not cheap. Financing is required for everything including the charter fee itself, food, safety equipment and logistics but to name a few aspects.

Sponsors Luzern Technology Solutions, MGM Boats and KM Cycles have been very generous with contributions to the U25 campaign.

If you would have an interest in supporting the team in any way at all, you can contact at [email protected]. or click on the go fund me page here

Published in Round Ireland

The Offshore Racing Academy was not the only organisation to realise the supports needed for newcomers to offshore racing in France and specifically the Figaro circuit.

For the first time this year the class association, Classe Figaro Beneteau and Team Vendée Formation, based in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, teamed up for the inaugural Course Académie. Translated from French, the aims are below…

Landing on a circuit such as that of the Figaro Bénéteau can sometimes seem like too high a mountain to climb for some. Making the slope more gentle, such is the leitmotif of the Figaro Bénéteau class and the FFVoile which are establishing the Figaro Bénéteau Academy this year.

“Our mission, in this context, is to support newcomers to the circuit and more particularly to the French Elite Offshore Racing Championship,” announces Estelle Graveleau who, after having held the positions of secretary and then director for a long time of the Figaro Bénéteau class, has been working for nearly 10 years within Team Vendée Formation, a structure that offers sailors and technicians a unique support and training system for sports sailing professions.

“My experiences have led me to this observation: it is useful to make jumping into the deep end easier and more readable for sailors, preparers and all people taking their first steps in the environment,” assures the director of the centre based in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, joined in all respects by the executives of the FFVoile and the administrators of the Figaro Bénéteau class, all driven by the same desire to welcome ever more players.”

It’s a whole circuit that collaborates and puts its skills on the table to move forward. We also rely heavily on the “old” to accompany and even sponsor, in a way, the “new”.

Kenneth Rumball shares his wealth of offshore experience with the Figaro rookie Timothy Long | Credit: Nicolas Michon/Course AcadémieKenneth Rumball shares his wealth of offshore experience with the Figaro rookie Timothy Long | Credit: Nicolas Michon/Course Académie

In keeping with the aims of the Offshore Racing Academy and the Classe Figaro and Team Vendée Formation, Kenneth Rumball, an experienced Figaro 3 sailor for the last three years, entered the event with 17-year-old Timothy Long from the UK — a ‘Bizuth’, or rookie, in the Fiagro 3 class.

Although the initial programme of the Course Académie changed as the event approached, the main aims were to be realised through two races, a short coastal 30nm race and a longer offshore of 300nm.

However it was not just the racing that the rookies would benefit from. The races were held to full Classe Fiagro rules and regulations with safety checks, stack and equipment checks and inspections, and mandatory online registration and validation of all of these areas.

All of these class rules were done in supportive manner under the watchful eye of the director of the course, Yann Elies, himself a multiple Solitaire du Figaro champion and legend in offshore racing in France in all the major classes: IMOCA, Ultime, Class 40 and more.

Phillipe Cousins was the technical and measurement director for the course, offering advice, technical and measurement support in the lead up to the races. Specifically to help the ‘étrangers’ or foreigners, Marcus Hutchinson was present with his support RIB to assist the non-French and French alike.

The first coastal race was a simple 30nm round trip from Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie to the mark ‘Sablaire’ off Ile d’Yeu and back. Mostly a beam reach there and back in 18-25 knots of wind, the fleet of 10 boats made light work of the course, completing it in under three hours and thus the entire fleet beat the initial record set for this course by Sam Davies in a Figaro 2 a number of years ago.

Rumball and Long were fifth across the line in this race and the first non-French boat.

Long and Rumball were rewarded for their efforts | Credit: Nicolas Michon/Course AcadémieLong and Rumball were rewarded for their efforts | Credit: Nicolas Michon/Course Académie

The fleet quick returned ashore for an evening to catch up with the other competitors and some much-needed rest before the 36-hour, 300-nautical-mile race the next day.

Long recounts that experience: “My first two weeks of training on the Figaro were wrapped up with a 340nm offshore race. I was nervous before the start, it was windy and I felt I was somewhat heading into the unknown…

“After the start gun went, the first four hours were extreme; we had up to 40 knots and the whole fleet was screaming along at 20+ knots boat speed with full code-zero, jib and mainsail. I had never felt anything like it, the sense of exhilaration was immense – I couldn’t believe how hard we were pushing the boats, it was mad!

“Throughout the rest of the course, we continued to push hard and those who made the least mistakes were ultimately the ones who had the most success. That is why it takes years of experience in this class to become the best; it is not about having faster boat speed because everyone is capable of the same speed, it’s about being the one who makes the least mistakes.”

The course was rapid, with average boat speeds for the initial 24 hours around 18 knots. In the final 12 hours or so the wind moderated which saw average boat speeds plummet to the more mundane 6-8 knots.

Rumball and Long sailed a good race with some ups and downs to finish in sixth position and therefore secure fifth overall in the event. Both sailors exhausted but delighted with their overall result.

Published in Offshore

The first of a number of pre-season offshore racing talks are scheduled for this coming Tuesday the 22nd of March 2022. The discussion, aimed at all levels of offshore sailing, is there to answer many of your questions and myths and provide solutions to questions you might have at whatever level you compete in offshore sailing.

The talk provided free of charge is given by Kenneth Rumball of the Offshore Racing Academy.

J109 Jedi competing in the Fastnet RaceJ109 Jedi competing in the Fastnet Race Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Rumball has a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of offshore racing. Career highlights include a winning division in the Fastnet Race with Jedi J109, Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) wins as skipper of Keronimo Ker 40, three years and counting experience in the hardest racing of them all in the solo Figaro class in France, plus Round Ireland, Middle Sea and Sydney Hobart Races. Rumball was also awarded the RORC seamanship trophy for the successful recovery of a man overboard on Jedi in a 2018 Round Ireland race.

Below decks on an offshore racerBelow decks on an offshore racer

Topics for the first talk include;

  • Basic boat preparation
  • Crew preparation
  • Safety considerations
  • Managing sleep and watch systems
  • Navigation and routing considerations
  • New keel inspection requirements for 2022

The talk will be given via zoom as Kenneth is in France after a busy training event at the weekend. This talk is free of charge. Participants are encouraged to sign up on the Offshore Academy’s website to obtain access to the zoom link.

The link to sign up is here

Once signed up, participants will be emailed the zoom link two hours before the talk is due to start on Tuesday evening.

Published in INSS

As I sit down to write the update for February, it dawns on me, how quickly the month has raced past and also as to how much sailing and time on the water was achieved in 28 days!

We started the month on the water, sailing and training with Susan Beucke from Germany, Silver Medallist in the 49er FX class who is exploring the adventures of offshore sailing in the Figaro 3 circuit. Based out of Lorient we were sailing with Lorient Grand Large. For me, it was a chance to train with a different perspective and different training partners including fellow Irish Offshore Champion, Tom Dolan.

The superb week of sailing made up for the fact that the team trailer had been broken into with lots of expensive and necessary support equipment stolen including, diving gear, stack bags, offshore drysuits to name but a few of the items that we will, unfortunately, have to delve into the reduced funds we have to replace.

Offshore Racing Academy

Wrapping up for the first week, we made the move back down to La Rochelle where number 20 was based. Next up was a week of solo sailing for Kenny to make sure the solo skills were still there as the potential to compete in some upcoming Figaro 3 events was becoming more and more of a reality. During the week we had mixed conditions, with windy days and equally light days, most importantly, the solo skills were there! To wrap up the week it was necessary to deliver 20 north to Lorient as there was another charter on the boat for it’s old skipper Will Harris and team Malizia. The 24-hour delivery reminded me exactly how solo sailing at night in the winter is not that much fun!

"The solo sailing community out here in France cannot be underestimated"

As 20 was on charter for a week it gave some time off and a chance to return to Ireland for some rest and recuperation which was much needed…

Recharged and back ready for action and a nice surprise of a first-class trip to France with Aer Lingus, it was back to Lorient to pick up 20 and head south to Ile d’Yeu for a 10-day training camp with Pole La Rochelle! Joining me for the week would be Timothy Long from the UK. Timothy has an impressive sailing background having circumnavigated the UK aged just 15!

Also joining us for his first Figaro training camp would be Conor Fogerty and his Figaro number 64 RAW. Leaving Lorient on the back of a front, it was a pleasure to have a co-skipper of Maïween Deffontaines to sail to Ile d’Yeu with! Perfect conditions on a reach the whole way there under gennaker in 20kts of wind we made light work of the delivery arriving on the dock to be met by Timothy with plenty of time to get the boat prepped for an intense week of training.

Intense the week certainly was, lots of wind every day with those conditions you only get once in a while to actually push a boat and see what it can do! On one trip around the island, we had 25 kts of wind downwind with the big spinnaker up and then blast reaching with the gennaker in 30 kts! Check out our video below to get an idea of how intense the boat is!

Unfortunately, Timothy had commitments to attend to back in the UK and I was left to do a nice 24 hours solo training race with the rest of the group. Light downwind conditions followed by wind and plenty of gennaker sailing back towards the Island!

With lots of training and sailing done, it was time to get back to Ireland. Literally 4 hours back on the Island, enough time for a quick sleep and packing of bags before we were off again to sail the boats to St Gilles to get them put to bed for a week or two!

Figaro 3 Number 20 out of the water and safely in its cradle(Above and below) The Offshore Racing Academy's Figaro 3 Number 20 out of the water and safely in its cradle

Figaro 3 Number 20 out of the water and safely in its cradle

It cannot be underestimated about the community out here. No sooner had I arrived in St Gilles on a Saturday, the slings were changed on the crane and number 20 was out of the water and safely in its cradle! Top work by Guillaume and the team in Port La Vie and we had Conor’s boat number 64 out also! After a manic 48 hours, it was time for some rest and food!

We’re a few days into March and it is already busy, we are providing lots of training to the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association and have lots happening and planned as previously reported here

It’s great to be busy!

Published in INSS
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