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 A new offshore series of races that will come to Irish waters has been launched in the UK called the Formula Foil Ocean Racing (FFOR) with a first prize of £50k.

Racing in identical Beneteau Figaro 3 yachts FFORC has been launched by a new business created by Stuart Greenfield. The championship will run from Spring 2020 until February 2021, and then yearly, the winner will be declared in Antigua. The championship is open to any Beneteau Figaro 3 with a minimum crew of 4 and maximum crew weight limit of 500kg. The yachts will be hand steered and be strictly one design.

The concept will begin with 10 identical yachts being made available to the first 10 teams entering on a fully managed basis. The yachts will run by the new company from a single base on the Isle of Wight and offered to teams on a fully ‘step-on and race’ basis for £75,000(+ VAT) * for the championship. This includes full use of a race prepared Beneteau Figaro 3 yacht and a set number of training and leisure days plus all maintenance and race entries. Teams may be amateur, sponsored, or fully professional. Amateur teams, if needed, will be provided with training and relevant first aid, sea survival and radio VHF courses to achieve the necessary qualifications to meet the Category 1 standard to which the races will comply. All races will count towards the results with no discards. 

"The yachts will be hand steered and be strictly one design"

The race programme will provide a range of offshore races in the English Channel before venturing on longer races to Ireland, Lanzarote, and finally a transatlantic race. The race program will ensure that all crews build up their experience in longer more challenging races over the 10-month championship. There will also be a small inshore element to include races such as Round the Island.

The race management will include race training and coaching, where necessary, to ensure crews reach the highest proficiency. The yachts will be equipped to World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations Category 1. The schedule is uniquely designed so that most racing is at weekends and to compete teams will only have to set aside a normal standard employed holiday commitment to compete in all races thereby ensuring that team members can remain fixed over the full period. Of course, it is also envisaged that teams could be made up of a squad of members and this is also an acceptable format. The aim is to enable teams to compete at the highest standard in the world’s newest and most exciting foiling yachts and still have a day job. 

The £75,000 package enables an amateur crew of 5 people without sponsorship to race for 10 months, every week if they wanted, for £15,000 per head per year. This concept offers one of the most exciting opportunities to race in the most innovative foiling mono-hulls without having to buy, run or maintain the yacht themselves. For sponsors, the opportunity to promote their brands to an international audience will be fulfilled by the very latest, tracking, drone and satellite communications fitted to every yacht. For the English Channel races, the fleet will be followed day and night by a high-speed offshore motorboat fitted with drone and satellite upload capabilities to bring a completely immersive experience for online followers. For new and younger teams this also adds an element of safety to the format.

Companies wishing to enter the championship for promotional and brand development or for corporate incentives for staff will be offered full access to the FFORC marketing and communications teams to ensure that there is a measurable return on investment delivered. FFORC will also provide racing skippers and qualified team members if required by corporate teams. 

Offshore racing is currently growing in popularity especially in smaller yachts with a focus towards fewer crew. This gives each member of the team more to do and more excitement with a focus on adventure. The Formula Foil Ocean Racing Championship (FFORC) format provides all these key selling points with none of the downsides of owning and maintaining a race yacht.

First prize for the championship will be £50,000 with £25,000 for second and £5,000 for third prize. The prize money will be given to the registered team and there will be no distinction between professional sponsored entries and personally financed challenges. Championships will also be held in 2021 and 2022. 

With the minimum of 10 boats for the 2020 championships any team with a one-design Figaro 3 wanting to take part will also be accepted into the championships. The entry fee will be £5,000. There will also be special options for privately owned yachts wishing to make use of the championship base in Cowes which will be very competitively priced. 

Stuart Greenfield commented “The launch of the new Beneteau Figaro 3 provides a unique opportunity for the FFORC to bring an exciting format to the UK offshore racing community… and hopefully internationally. Ocean racing continues to grow in interest with the numbers of yachts competing on the increase. There is trend for smaller more exciting yachts with less crew doing more with the focus on adventure with the bonus of less time just sitting on the rail. It is also clear that sailors want to race in teams without the hassle of boat maintenance and depreciation, they also want to race together as equals against the best. FFORC delivers this with the excitement of the races growing in length and difficulty as the 10-month cycle rolls out. Ensuring the format is compatible with non-professional weekend orientated sailors provides a unique opportunity and this combined with coaching and race training and a significant prize winning will, I hope, also attract professionals and fully sponsored teams… if you’re ready for an adventure this is definitely the new ‘fforc’ in ocean racing!"

The Yacht

As Afloat.ie previously reported, the Figaro Beneteau 3 is the first production foiling one-design monohull ever to be designed. A distillation of technology and innovation. It results from a collaboration between Group Beneteau’s best experts and the Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prévost (VPLP) office, the architects of the two last boats to win the Vendée Globe

Title Sponsorship

Each team may be sponsored by any number of companies or individuals. FFORC is currently inviting title sponsorship from businesses or organisations. The opportunity includes yachts, website, event, and social branding across all media.

Published in Offshore
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The brisk nor’east winds maintained their pressure yesterday during daylight to keep the 36-strong Solitaire URGO Figaro fleet at good speeds as they raced down the coast of northwest Spain after their swift 520 mile Stage 2 from Saint-Brieuc with its Biscay crossing writes W M Nixon. But as night drew on and they went through the transition stage from ocean to coastal and then close inshore sailing approaching the finish at Portosin on the Ria de Muros after rounding Cape Finisterre, conditions became much flukier, and at times speeds were reduced to 3 knots or even less as they raced slowly along the final miles to the finish.

At least seven boats were in with a chance of snatching the lead, including Scotland’s Alan Roberts. But consistent front-runner Sebastien Simon (Bretagne CMB Performance) kept his cool and got there first at 03:25:52 this morning for an elapsed time of 2 days 14 hours 5 minors and 55 seconds. This gave him a margin of 20 minutes on Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) who slid across the finish line just 9 seconds ahead of Eric Peron in Finistere Mer Vent, who for many of the final miles had been Sebastien Simon’s closest contender.

With just over 50 minutes covering the slowly-finishing first ten boats, the hugely competitive nature of Figaro Solo racing is again emphasised, and the two Irish rookies have shown they have much to learn before they can match the consistency of Figaro regulars, many of whom devote the prime years of their sailing careers to this one high profile solo event.

Tom Dolan of Meath with Smurfit Kappa was up to speed several times, but his mistaken tactic of staying with the group which took the westerly option in going through the gap between Ushant and West Brittany on the second day saw him slip from 12th to a placing in the 20s. And though he got up to 22nd at one stage, this morning at the finish in northwest Spain he has to be content with 25th, three hours and twenty minutes behind the leader.

Joan Mulloy of Clew Bay knew she could never hope to recover from the delay caused by her broken main halyard at the start, but she gamely battled on, the first Irish woman to take on the Figaro challenge, and at her best she had clawed her way back up to 32nd. But over the concluding miles in an exhausted condition with an hour or so still to sail, she now looks likely to place 33rd or 34th.

Overall, the Stage 1 winner Anthony Marchand finished 4th in Stage 2, 36 minutes behind the leader, and is now well placed on the overall points table as the lone skippers rest up for a day or two while the Shore Support teams prepared their boats for the Stage 3 start on this Saturday, 8th September - 440 miles back round Finisterre and into the Bay of Biscay with the finish at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie on France’s Biscay coast.

Race tracker and detailed results here

Published in Figaro
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The second night in La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro has been an extremely frustrating one for the fleet as they struggle with light airs in the western English Channel writes W M Nixon. They’ve been trying a variety of tactics to find the faintest breezes from a selection of very faint headwinds to help them get past Lizard Point and on to the next turn at Wolf Rock south of Land’s End, the furthest part of the opening 570-mile stage which takes them Le Havre-Owers-WolF Rock- NW Brittany-Guernsey before finishing at St Brieuc on the north Brittany coast south of the Channel Islands.

At 0830 this morning, the leader Corentin Douget sailing NF Habitat still had 289.4 miles to the finish, and was showing only narrowly ahead of Sebastian Simon in Bretagne CMB Performance. The leading nine currently are all French, but British sailor Alan Roberts has been very much in contention and is now 10th, though with very close margins among the leaders. Ireland’s Joan Mulloy is currently showing at 23rd, but like several others is virtually becalmed, and she now has a shortfall of 21 miles on the leader.

Race Tracker here

Published in Figaro
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#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

The elite Figaro Class’s 350-miles Solo Concarneau for the trophee Guy Cotton in the Bay of Biscay tomorrow (Thursday) will test Ireland’s Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy on an intricate course writes W M Nixon. The route take two fleets – one solo with Mayo’s Mulloy, the other two-handed with Meath’s Dolan – northwestwards from the Breton fishing/sailing port of Concarneau through the Raz de Seine and the islands off it, and then there’s a long haul southeast to the Ile d’Yeu before returning north to Concarneau.

Joan Mulloy succeeded in finishing her first Figaro Solo race on March 17th, a 245-mile event in which achieving the finish at all was a real challenge, as her autohelm failed shortly before the start. But she got there nevertheless - a courageous performance.

'It looks like the Irish division will be battling it out for glory in the rookie rankings' – Tom Dolan

tom dolan concarneau2Tom Dolan revelling in a breeze in his Mini-Transat – tomorrow, he starts his first race in a Figaro, two-handed with Tanguy Bouroullec.

For Tom Dolan, in training for the Figaro Two-handed Transat AG2R on 22nd April with longtime crewmate Tanguy Bouroullec, things have been hectic, as he took delivery of his second-hand Figaro just two months ago. He and Bouroullec have continued to run their busy Offshore Academy while training themselves in with the boat and sorting sponsorship deals, but fortunately as they’re Concarneau-based it’s a crowded schedule which has been just about possible.

Dolan comments: “There’s some fairly big guns competing in both divisions, most of them have been at this (Figaro racing) for years, so it looks like the Irish division will be battling it out for glory in the rookie rankings…..”

Race Tracker here

Published in Figaro
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Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan has revealed further details of plans to compete in the hotly-contested Figaro class in 2018 – a move that takes him one step closer to his ultimate goal of the Vendee Globe.

Dolan will join the gruelling Figaro circuit, which features some of the world’s best singlehanded sailors, after a successful tenure in the Mini 6.50 class.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, notched up numerous wins and podium finishes during his time in the class, earning him the nickname L’Irlandais Volant – the Flying Irishman.

His long list of achievements culminated in finishing sixth overall out of a fleet of 56 entries in the iconic Mini Transat Race last year, for which he was shortlisted for the title of Volvo/Irish Sailing/Afloat.ie Irish Sailor of the Year.

Dolan, has now teamed up with eco-friendly packaging giant Smurfit Kappa to launch his bid for the 2018 Figaro season and jointly promote a message of sustainability and innovation.

"Smurfit Kappa supported Tom in 2017 during his Mini 650 campaign and his constantly evolving results were very satisfying for us. Tom is a professional sailor with a very promising future, and this is why we are proud to be supporting him. Innovation and Sustainability are our key values and we are proud to be sharing them with Tom's campaign" said Gérard Mathieu, Marketing and innovation manager, Smurfit Kappa France

tom dolan mini2
Tom Dolan’s Minitransat boat in which Smurfit Kappa were joint sponsors. The eco-friendly packaging giant have now come aboard as lead sponsors for his Figaro campaign.

Tom’s steed will be none other than Figaro 15, the boat that French offshore legends Martin Le Pape and Roland Jourdain raced in 2014.

Despite having plenty of offshore racing experience, including five transatlantic crossings, Dolan admits that the jump into the Figaro, which is a third bigger than the Mini 6.50, is daunting.

“Joining the Figaro fleet this year is exciting, if a little scary,” Dolan said. “The Figaro is known as one of the most challenging classes to sail in because of the sheer level of sailors.

“It’s where the world’s best singlehanders come to prove themselves and if you look at the list of Vendee Globe winners they’ve practically all competed in the Figaro.

“This is very much the next step towards my dream of competing in the Vendee Globe, I want to do the best job I can, for myself and my sponsors.”

Dolan’s first venture in his new boat will be the AG2R La Mondiale – a doublehanded sprint across the Atlantic from the French town of Concarneau, Dolan’s adoptive home, to the Caribbean island of St Barts.

Dolan will team up with and close friend and old Mini 6.50 adversary Tanguy Bouroullec for the 3,800-mile race, which starts on April 22.

The season highlight will be the Solitaire du Figaro, a challenging 1,600-mile solo race around the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, starting on August 26.

figaro racing3
Figaro racing – it’s the Big Boys’ League by comparison with the Mini-Transat.

Dolan’s main goal is to finish on the podium of the rookie class – a division for first-timers in the Solitaire.

“The AG2R is going to be a baptism of fire for me – it’ll be my first proper race in the Figaro and it’s all the way across the Atlantic with no stopover,” Dolan added.

“It’s a quick turnaround from finishing the Mini Transat back in November but I wanted to keep the momentum up, and make sure that I stay sharp.

“Sailing doublehanded is very different to solo sailing but I’ve trained alongside Tanguy for a few years now and we know each other well.

“He was renowned in the Mini for being fast when the conditions were heavy, so he’ll be the ideal guy to have onboard.

“My season goal is to end up on the podium in the rookie division of the Solitaire. If I can do well as a rookie it will have been a good season.”

Dolan is proud to be able to count on the support of Smurfit Kappa, one of Europe’s leading eco-packaging companies.

“Smurfit Kappa has strong values of sustainability and innovation, values that I share and want to spread as I race around the world,” Dolan said.

“Respect for the environment and sustainable development are things that affect me enormously.

“At sea we always try to be minimalist about what we take onboard the boat, and we constantly evaluate any waste we produce.

“This allows us to see first-hand the result of a world obsessed with consumption. When we arrive from a race we are asked if we have seen fish, sunsets, whales... but the reality today is that what we see most is plastic waste. This cannot continue like this.”

Published in Figaro
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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

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
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Northern Ireland solo offshore sailor Andrew Baker was among the Artemis Offshore Academy making an emotional procession out of Cowes Yacht Haven, the pontoons sinking beneath the weight of friends and family cheering them on their way to Paimpol. Starting Leg 2 of the Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro from the famous Royal Yacht Squadron start line, Cowes seafront was lined with the public armed with binoculars and cameras for the spectacle.

“People suggested that the leg we have just completed was the toughest one in memory, so that should mean it will be easier this time! It’s good to get that out of the way. What was important in Cowes was getting enough rest to get back in the game for the next few legs and not burn out. It really was a hard leg with strong winds on the first day and then very feeble winds for the next days. It was tough physically, but nothing you can’t recuperate from with some sleep, Baker said.

"Leaving Cowes after just three days on shore, the Solitaire skippers face a fast but tiring leg"

 

Leaving Cowes after just three days on shore, the Solitaire skippers face a fast but tiring leg. Zig-zagging their way out of the Solent in 20 knots on the nose with the tide on a magic carpet ride, the fleet can expect to stay in the express lane for most of the way to Paimpol, as Race Director Gilles Chiorri explained.

“On this leg, the fleet will face all of the difficulties associated with the Channel – current, wind and lots of tacking. Another difficulty will be the length of the leg, 430 miles solo is again long to race alone, the current routing shows them spending three days and three nights at sea. There will also be a lot of tactics involved. The skippers who are further back in the ranking after Leg 1 will be on the attack. The Iroise Sea will be one of the most challenging areas of the course, with big wind, big waves and lot of rocks – it will require bravery,” he concluded.

Follow Baker and the fleet here

 

 

Published in Figaro
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#Solo - Pictured above is the RIB that French sailor Christophe Maupaté will pilot solo in his quest to set a new Atlantic record from Bordeaux to New York.

Previously attempted by Ireland's own Enda O'Coineen, no one has yet completed a solo transatlantic voyage by RIB.

But as reported on Afloat.ie last December, Figaro veteran Maupaté has been planning his own crossing for some time, having plotted a 4,460-nautical-mile course that will take him from France via Ireland's East Coast, western Scotland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland to the southern tip of Greenland and Canada's Maritimes towards the US – tracing the route of Lafayette's Hermione.

Now Maupaté's record attempt is just weeks away, launching from Bordeaux on Saturday 16 July with a stopover in Dun Laoghaire expected in the first few days.

Published in Solo Sailing
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