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#figaro – If solo sailor David Kenefick successfully completes completes tomorrow's 'Lien Cartographie Solo Arrimer' race he officially qualifies for this Summer's Figaro race, a long held ambition for the young Munster sailor.

LIVE TRACK DAVID KENEFICK's PROGRESS

The race at 320nm miles is the longest the Crosshaven sailor will have completed to date in his boat Aquarius. He's also lining up against the best French skippers (See below for entry list)

Organised by the Water Sports Sablais since 2003 Sables d'Olonne, the Solo STOW runs between the islands of Ré, Yeu and Belle-Ile  on the French West Coast.

While a large depression, accompanied by high winds, is poised to sweep west over France today, the weather files show a weaker low pressure system from Thursday.

There will be plenty of competition from previous Vendee Globe sailors plus he's also racing against Michel Desjoyeaux, (a three time Figaro winner) and (two time Vendee globe winner) but the Irish sailor says he has something of an advantage in that he is in Desjoyeaux's old boat after chartering it for the year!

Full list of entries below:

Joan Ahrweiller / REGION NORMANDY, Jeremiah BEYOU / MASTER COCK, Henry Bomby / Zhik - MADE FOR WATER, Jack Bouttell / ARTEMIS 77; Thierry Chabagny / GEDIMAT, Nick CHERRY / ARTEMIS 23; Michel DESJOYEAUX / TBS; Frédéric DUTHIL / Sepalumic; Yann ELIES / GROUP QUEGUINER LEUKEMIA HOPE, Matthew GIROLET / LAFONT PRESS, Sam GOODCHILD / VASCO DE GAMA, Edmund HILL / ARTEMIS 37; Benoit HOCHART / AQUARIUS: David Kenefick / FULL IRISH; Morgan LAGRAVIERE / VENDEE; Gilles LE BAUD / Carnac Thalasso & SPA , Armel LE CLEAC'H / CREDIT; Yannig Livory / THERMACOTE France; Alexis Loison / Group FIVA Nicolas LUNVEN / GENERALI; Xavier MACAIRE / SKIPPER HERAULT, Paul Meilhat / SKIPPER MACIF 2011, Jean-Pierre Nicol / BERNARD CONTROLS, Claire PRUVOT / PORT DE CAEN OUISTREHAM; Frederic RIVET / DFDS SEAWAYS; Julien VILLION / Seixo HABITAT.

Update from David:

Well this is it. It's the night before the start of the Solo Arrimer Race. We are in Les Sables, in the Atlantic, with the tide and of course the beautiful, not, Spring weather. The pictures I posted on my facebook page two days ago were a freak window of sun and light winds before the rot set back in and it has been blowing over 30 knots ever since. Today it barely stopped raining. But that is the lot of a solo sailor. Get up and get on with it.
It's a long course they have set us, the longest I've sailed at 305 miles, but ironically it may end up being only 36 hours in duration as there is plenty of wind and it is mostly a reach up and down the French coast. We head initially South East to pass inside ile de Ré and under the bridge that joins it to the mainland by La Rochelle, before heading North all the way up inside Belle Isle to a mark just off the tip of the Quiberon Penninsula. We then return via Les Sables d'Olonne to round Ile de Ré again, but this time in the other direction before heading to the finish line again.
My objectives for the race are, number one to finish the race, number two to stay in touch with the legends that have also entered the race too for as long as possible, and three to gather as much experience as possible.
I've learnt this week about the unbelievable amount of preparation that goes into entering and being cleared to race. The amount of paperwork is unbelievable but all necessary. We have been working hard on weather and navigation briefings as the start time rolls closer and we have a better idea of what we will experience on the weather side and hence at what time and what state of the tide we will round the marks on the course. We have been checked by safety scrutineers, sail measurers, the press and of course Mathilde at the Class association has diligently helped us all with the certificates for this and that and the other ,... oh and the PLB battery expiration date!
Safety is a serious business and no one takes it lightly. I already appreciate more now than I did a week ago about why things are done the way they are done. Being in this environment for a week allows us to learn from the older and more experienced skippers about their preparation, what their priorities are and where our own preparation is lacking.
Anyway, now it's like the night before your final school exams. The revision has been done to a greater or lessor extent, there is not much more we can do except be fresh in the morning and go out and do it. The exam results should be known sometime in the small hours of Saturday morning when we cross the finish line here again in Les Sables d'Olonne.

Published in Figaro

#lafigaro – Cork Solo sailor David Kenefick has completed the final leg of the ICOM CUP Méditeranée in fifth place to finish 11th overall and qualified to participate in La Solitaire du Figaro 2013 writes Claire Bateman.

The ICOM Cup is a three stage single handed offshore race in the qualification procedure to compete in Le Solitaire du Figaro 2013. The first stage of the ICOM Cup was a 140nm offshore race to Marseille followed by a day of inshore racing with the return race being somewhat longer with an extra two legs to round the Séte buoy before finishing and thus adding some 36nm to the course. This was the longest race to date in the qualification process. The race threw up all sorts of conditions that included shredding his mainsail in 36 knots of wind gusting 42 necessitating finishing the leg under jib alone.

To give an insight into the race experience I quote as follows from David on the return leg to Le Grande Motte: "We are thirty hours into this race now and although I am in eighth position I have broken away from the leader of the last group. We are moving very slowly along the beach of the Rhone Estuary. The two leaders are ahead around the next mark and have got away, but the group of boats ahead of me from fourth to seventh are most certainly catchable. The sun has gone and it's getting dark and so of course the sea breeze has gone. This transition is my chance. Got to stay focused, keep myself safe, and work intelligently!!"

Kenefick adds:  "I finished fifth, the boat ahead was Henry Bomby a twenty two year old from the Artemis Offshore Academy who finished just a few lengths ahead of me after forty eight hours of racing".

This year the 44th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro will start in Bordeaux and go via Porto, Gigón and Roscoff to the fnishing port of Dieppe a distance of approximately 2000 km. The race will commence on June 2nd, 2013.

Overall ICOM Cup Mediterranee results:
Position/Skipper/Figaro no./Nationality/Time
1. Xavier Macaire/8/FRA/2d, 16h, 26' 10"
2. Jean Pierre Nicol/68/FRA/2d, 18h, 30' 49"
3. Matthieu Girolet/86/FRA/2d, 22h, 27' 13"
4. Pietro d'Ali/42/ITA/2d, 22h, 52' 30"
5. Jack Bouttell/77/GBR/2d, 23h, 01' 05"
6. Gwenael Gbick/29/FRA/3d, 00h, 15' 49"
7. Ed Hill/37/GBR/3d, 00h, 33', 00"
8. Yves Ravot/31/FRA/3d, 00h, 35' 05"
9. Alexia Barrier/49/FRA/3d, 02h, 11' 55"
10.Henry Bomby/23/GBR/4d, 2h, 29' 23"
11.David Kenefick/45/IRL/4d, 02h, 38' 01"
12.Jean Paul Mouren/13/FRA/5d, 06h, 20' 40"

 

Published in Figaro

From onboard his Figaro yacht Cork rookie David Kenefick talks about his first 140–nautical mile race in La Grande Motte, France.

Kenefick finished second of six finishers and in this audio clip with interviewer Brian Carlin describes race tactics, freezing conditions, fishing trawlers and sleep deprivation.

Published in Figaro
Tagged under
#PORTS AND SHIPPING-The 74,258 gross tonnes Figaro, a large car truck carrier (LCTC) capable of loading 7879 cars or 432 trucks, which was launched this year, docked at Dublin Port today, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Figaro arrived into Dublin Bay off the Baily Lighthouse, having appeared over the horizon from the Kish Lighthouse after a voyage from Tarragona, Spain. She originally set sail at the start of October from Kwangwang in South Korea and since then made en route calls to three other ports of the South East Asian state in addition to Aqaba in Jordan, Derince in Turkey and Voltri in Italy.

She is operated by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines (WWL) and was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The new vessel's principle dimensions are (length: 227.8m, beam: 32.26 and a draft of 11.3m) and she has a deadweight (metric tonnes) of 30,900.

The Swedish company together with subsidiaries and partner's, operates a fleet of about 135 vessels. Of these, Wallenius owns or charters around 35. They can carry up to 8,000 cars, or a combination of cars, trucks, cranes, large rolls of paper and rubber or large turbines. They have also transported parts for wind turbines, luxury yachts, complete train-sets and aircraft wings.

Figaro's docking in Dublin today was at berth 33, which is the centre berth of three lining Ocean Pier which has a quayside totalling 410m long. The pier is within Alexandra Basin and is to the east side of this dock which is approached from the port channel opposite the Poolbeg Marina.

After Dublin she continues her global schedule to Bremerhaven (16 Nov), Zeebrugge (23 Nov), Southampton (24 Nov), Baltimore, USA (3 Dec), Savannah, GA USA (6 Dec), Manzanillo, Panama (11 Dec), Auckland (29 Dec), Brisbane in the New Year (2 Jan) and two days later is expected to dock in Port Kemble also in Australia.

Earlier this year the world's largest ro-ro carrier Tonsberg (PHOTO) also part of the WWL fleet, docked in Dublin having entered service in March. She has a cargo volume of 138,000 cubic metres, some 10% greater than the largest ro-ro vessels in service including her fleetmate the Figaro.

The 74,622grt vessel is the first of four Mark V class on order from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan. They are capable of handling handle high and heavy cargo such as excavators, bulldozers, wheel loaders and harvesters. Her sister Parsifal followed in September and the final pair of the quartet are due for delivery in 2012.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Today, Wednesday at 12:49:01 Jérémie Beyou crossed the line first to win the fourth and final leg from Les Sables d'Olonne to Dieppe. By finishing in Dieppe ahead of the rest of the fleet, and scoring his third consecutive victory, BPI's skipper Jérémie Beyou was crowned overall winner of the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro, an edition he dominated from the outset.  This win means he joins the exclusive club of double winners of the event.

The BPI skipper covered the 437 miles in 72 hours, 37 minutes and 1 second. It was one of the closest finishes ever for the race, with four boats flying past the line in a little more than 30 seconds. Second place went to Paul Meilhat (Macif 2011) just 12 seconds later, third to Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham) 28 seconds after the winner and fourth to Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) at within 35 seconds.

King Jérémie
At 35 and on his 12th participation in La Solitaire du Figaro, Jérémie Beyou secures his second victory following that obtained in 2005. He joins the very exclusive club of winners to have won the event twice; Armel Le Cléac'h (2003-2010), Nicolas Troussel (2006-2008), Jean-Marie Vidal (1972-1987), Gilles Gahinet (1977-1980), Guy Cornou (1975-1976) and Gilles le Baud (1973-1978). Only Philippe Poupon (1982-1985-1995), Jean Le Cam (1994-1996-1999) and Michel Desjoyeaux (1992-1998-2007) managed to do better with three wins each...

Beyou's domination over the four legs was rarely challenged: on the first stage between Perros-Guirec and Caen, he ruled the game together with Thomas Rouxel and Nicolas Lunven in the light airs up to twenty miles from the finish, only to be caught out in an bubble with no wind which saw him loose the leadership.  He then went on to set the pace and lead on the breezy second leg that was 470 miles long, mainly upwind from up Caen to Dùn Laoghaire, and put his trademark on the third to Les Sables d'Olonne, also setting the pace and leading in the medium and light airs. Never giving up, Beyou built his lead and then final triumph on the fourth leg, carefully fencing off all of his adversaries' attacks. And, even more impressive, Jérémie Beyou won all the four GMF Trophy prizes, that is to say the turning point of each leg!

The rising star
By finishing in third on the final leg and second overall, Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) becomes the rising star and future talent to watch out for in the Bénéteau Figaro class. The young sailor from Caen, who won the first leg on home waters, showed an impressive consistency finishing seventh, second and third in the following legs and only 35 minutes separates him in the overall ranking from the winner.

And the bronze goes to...
Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat), who finished 4th in Dieppe, had to wait until his closest rivals in the overall time accumulated rankings finished, to find out that he had the third place this season. Both Nicolas Lunven (Generali) and Thomas Rouxel (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance) finished their Solitaire du Figaro 2011 participation with average performance, 24th and 22nd respectively to relinquish the third spot to a deserving Tabarly. Erwan Tabarly concludes with a mere 5 minutes lead on Lunven and Rouxel.

The new kids on the block
This 42nd edition of la Solitaire du Figaro was also marked by the presence in the top part of the scoreboard of a number of newcomers to the race: rookies such as Xavier Macarie (Starter Active Bridge) finished 4th in Caen, Morgan Lagravière (Vendée) 12th in Dun Laoghaire, 9th in Les Sables d'Olonne, 7th in Dieppe. An impressive performance that rewarded the 24-years-old skipper from the Vendée region, not only with the overall victory in the rookie class, but also with a remarkable 8th place in the general ranking. Second place goes to Xavier Macaire (Sterter Active Bridge), 8 minutes and 33 seconds behind while Jersey based Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) managed to finish in third overall by only four seconds after more than 260 hours at sea!

They said:

Jérémie Beyou (BPI), overall winner of the Solitaire 2011 with three leg wins
"I feel a bit guilty, Paul (Meilhat) sailed really well on this last leg and he deserved to win. How do you win a Solitaire? It's not only a matter of performances, it's also about willpower, you have to train, get organised, question yourself, never give up and you need luck too. It may sound obvious but it's a combination of all these factors. And this year I had everything that I needed. I've been thinking about coming back to win since 2009, and I've done everything I could."
On how he managed to keep his nerves, and his margin: "After the third leg, I told myself that I could make it again: I knew that Fabien (Delahaye) was a bit faster than me downwind, but I didn't panic. I tried to remain self-confident. Because I know my strong and weak points and thats how I manage not to be anxious of my adversaries."
About joining the double winners' club: "Right, with Nicolas Troussel and Armel Le Cléach', now we're three from the bay of Morlaix. We've always done everything together, but it's amazing anyway."
When asked if he will come back on the Solitaire Beyou commented: "I don't know the answer. Maybe yes, but not just to be there. And physically it's very tough, true I won three legs but I'm exhausted."
What the winner likes most about the race: "The constant fight, the level of the competition. But there's more, when you finish there's such a special atmosphere, you feel at home, people are smiling at you and it's nice to meet the others ashore. The organisers have made a fantastic job and it's not only the sailors that make this race so special..."

Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen-Ouistreham) – 3rd in Dieppe and second overall
"First, seventh, second, third: I'm over the moon with my performance over the four legs and to jump on the second step of the podium is great. These are good results, but the Solitaire victory is calculated on total time and Jérémie (Beyou) never let me go. At times it was me at times him to be in front, but we've never been more than half a mile apart. We made the same choices, he was keeping a constant watch on me, and now and then we could even talk to each other. It was an amazing leg and I'm happy to have lived it with him! Two years ago I was fighting with Paul (Meilhat) for the rookie win and we were finishing in Dieppe, you can say that this is like a nice remake of the same movie. You have to be consistent and being there with the best ones on all the legs. There is a bunch of new kids to keep an eye on: Morgan Lagravière, Phil Sharp among the rookies, but also Anthony Marchand, Thomas Rouxel, Paul Meilhat... they come from everywhere! "

Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) – 3rd overall and 4th in leg three
"A fourth place in this last leg, I could have done better! I would have loved to finish with a win because I knew I could make it, but I'm on the third step of the podium and that's brilliant. It's been a long time that I have been up in the top ten, but I could not get on the podium, so that's great. I still have to go up two places but it's true that Jérémie (Beyou) was untouchable and Fabien (Delahaye) sailed very well. I set my watch to see if I was going to be third overall, Thomas Rouxel was too far behind but Nicolas Lunven was only 27 minutes back. Not that much. On this last leg it was impossible to relax, it all came down to detail, the good boat handling...  This year's format is very interesting, because you had plenty of little options to take all the time. We've been sailing round the rocks, with and against the current, wind shifting, coastal effects: enough to keep you busy. I hope one day I will win this race and I hope not to be 60 when I will!"

Published in Figaro
Tagged under
16th August 2011

Figaro Fleet Near Les Sables

After the excitement of the Dun Laoghaire depature on Sunday the third leg of the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro should be finishing in Les Sables d'Olonne on Wednesday around noon. The 46 boat strong fleet has been progressing in light sea breeze along the Brittany coast. French skipper Jérémie Beyou is still leading, but everything could still happen on the last hundred miles to the finish.

Will it be café and croissant for the finish? Since over 50 hours, the 46 solo skippers have been playing the tough game of choosing the best route and decoding each and every little wind shift to keep speed up. That's a game race leader Jérémie Beyou on BPI is a master at. He has been at the front for the last two days, but will he manage to fence off his competitors' attacks up to the finish line? His pursuers, Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat), Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham) and Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat) have been chasing him and hope to get nearer, as daylight fades away and the sea breeze will give way to a light north-westerly. According to the latest position report his advantage has been reduced to 0.5 miles.
Up until the Barges lighthouse, on a tiny rock just off Les Sables d'Olonne, there will be no other course mark and the skippers will be free to choose their route, which will nonetheless be full of traps and islands to be wary of Glénan, Groix, Belle Ile, Ile d'Yeu. The match is not over yet and the coming hours will be crucial.

Phil Sharp still in the top ten and first rookie
Jersey based Phil Sharp keeps on showing good speed and tactics, at 15:30 he was reported to have jumped up one more position and was in 6th , less than two miles from Beyou and still leading the rookie ranking, with second newcomer Morgan Lagravière in 11th one mile further back. Other UK solo sailors Sam Goodchild and Conrad Humpreys are still battling neck-to-neck in 25th and 26th respectively. Nigel King's overnight option did not pay off and he slipped down to 32nd whilst Portugal Francisco Lobato lies in 44th.

What is that?
As the Solitaire skippers were getting to Penmarch' a big blue "monster" approached them. It was no other than maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V, that just smashed the Fastnet Race record, on her delivery journey from Plymouth. The crew waved and saluted some of the sailors, among whom they saw fellow crew members Thierry Chabagny and Erwan Tabarly, before sprinting away at full speed.

Skippers' quotes
Jérémie Beyou (BPI): "It is harder to be in front downwind."
"it's a textbook situation: past Penmarc'h the weather is always good. It's nice to have some sun. There's a breeze so we're moving. The wind is not going to die out at least until tonight, later it will probably turn right and become north-west. We'll have to gybe. True, when you are leading you show the way to the others. It is harder to be in front downwind. Would be great to have a bit more leeway. But they are there, close behind, and I'll have to deal with that."

Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat): "It's not over yet"
"A big blue bird just flew past my little Gedimat. It was amazing to watch Banque Populaire so close and she was so fast, the crew waved at me (Thierry has been sailing on the maxi tri for the last two years and is going to be on board next winter for the Jules Vernes Trophy record attempt, ed. note). It was such a joy. They did the same to Erwan and Jérémie. We've hoisted the spinnaker but the air is very light. We're still moving so nothing to complain about, a nice afternoon is on the menu. I managed to sleep, had a good nap before passing the Four. I slept also after the Raz de Sein. Four 20 minute siestas, not bad at all, and I feel ok. We're waiting for the wind to go right, a small ridge is coming towards us, tonight or tomorrow it's going to become north-west and the way to manage this is what we're all thinking about."

Sam Goodchild (Artemis): "So far it's been good."
"So far it's been very good, I broke nothing which is the first time through the race. I had a bad bit off Land's End so I was near the back and then had a better bit off Ushant, and then I think I'm back in the middle but I'm not sure. Now is beautiful sailing with sun and a bit of wind. Hopefully the wind stays but we will have to wait and see. Maybe tonight it's a bit more difficult. At the moment I'm happy and just trying to enjoy the sailing, I'm next to Jeanne Gregoire and Gildas Morvan so it's not too bad. I'm not 100% sure what's going to happen first with the wind, we expect it to turn light but that may happen when it gets dark and the sun is gone, I'm not too sure. We're waiting. We still have 117 miles to the finish, so it will probably be tomorrow afternoon."

Romain Attanasio (Savéol): "Some sun at last!"
"Some sun at last! I've to decide whether to wear shorts or not, we're no longer used to. I've used a cap for the first time! Heading to Sables under spinnaker but the wind is light. Some are a bit further inshore, we're more offshore and I'm just behind Thierry Chabagny and the leading trio. Those behind you think you've managed to get some lead and then bang, they come again... it's a bit stressful. I think that something is going to happen soon, so I'll need to be ready to take the shift. I'm not sure how that's going to happen."

Conrad Humpreys (DMS): "Very difficult at the moment."
"It's very difficult at the moment, very light breeze. We are five boats very close to each other, with Banque Populaire, Artemis, Vandee, myself and Think Blue. We try and make the most of the small amounts of wind to get to the finish but I think we're all very tired so it's quite difficult. I think we'll see the wind veer and come around a little bit more to the West and then the North-West and maybe we'll jibe back in towards the shore. But at the moment we've got 120 miles so it's going to be a very slow finish, may be take twenty-four hours at least to the finish."

Published in Figaro
Sign up for this mornung's e-bulletin (see past editions here) for all the weekend's Irish sailing news, pics and results straight to your inbox.

This morning's edition includes photos and pics from Sunday's Figaro departure from Dun Laoghaire and the Rick Tomlinson's pics of the start of the Fastnet race from Cowes. Derry-Londonderry is on her way to Rio in the Clipper race. Regrettably there was no Gold, Silver or Bronze from Weymouth but we're in a strong position. See our video with Annalise here. Plus: The Topper Worlds at the National YC, John Lavery's win at the Flying fifteen South coast champs in Dunmore East, the J24 Nationals from Lough Erne, A local pair whitewashed the RS Feva Nationals in Cork Harbour, some great shots from Bob Bateman. The Oppy Nationals start in Howth and Afloat's Sailor of the Month for July Martin Byrne retained the Dragon Nationals in Kinsale. There's also the full weekend results from Dublin Bay SC.

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Published in Racing

Just 8 hours after National Yacht Club Commodore Paul Barrington bade farewell to the 47 brave Solitaire sailors starting their gruelling 420 mile sail back to France, he was raising the curtain on the Sovereign Ski Topper World Championship – one of the world's big sailing event for the professional sailors of the future.
The Figaro stopover was a great success – capturing the imagination of the visitors, the town and the thousands of locals who visited the ships, shops, and fireworks attached to the event.
The tight changeover from Figaro to Toppers was a challenge to the National Yacht Club organizing committee – but there were some great benefits as event Chairman Margaret Kneafsey explained:
" Friday night there was a wonderful fireworks display and festivities put on by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council – but by 7am on Saturday morning the marquee was cleared and taken down so the Topper competitors could take up their places. It has been very inspiring for the young sailors (all under 18) to see the professionalism of the Figaro race and the exciting lives professional sailors can lead."
Margaret and her large team of volunteers have been delighted to have 180 entries including the five young sailors who have travelled from Korea and sampled Dublin Bay waters for the first time yesterday ( Sunday) .
"It has given them some flavour for the currents and tides in Dublin bay, before the start of the qualifying races for the championship finals which will start today ( Monday)" said Margaret.
Today's ( Monday) qualifying races will be a an amazing blaze of colour across Dublin Bay with all 180 boats lining up for 3 races. Following the same tomorrow the fleet will split in silver and gold fleets and continue the white heat of final competition for 3 days and 8 races until World Champion emerges on Friday afternoon.

Published in Topper
At precisely 12:00 on Sunday 14th August, the Race Committee fired the start signal of the third leg of the Solitaire du Figaro, 477 miles from Dún Laoghaire to Les Sables d'Olonne, as public crowded the pier to wave goodbye to the sailors and dozens of boats enjoyed the show. But soon the sunny, warm, pleasant conditions sunny gave way to the rain, wind gusts and a roulette game for the 46 skippers.

Who thought that the most thrilling part of the third leg would be the finish? It's maybe too soon to tell, but clearly the 8 mile long inshore course and the following run along the green Irish cliffs delivered enough surprises for a whole leg, with continuous changes at the top.

figarodepart

The fleet depart Dun Laoghaire in a rain shower. Photo : Courcoux/Marmara. More Photos on the gallery here

This morning on the pontoons of Dun Laoghaire, an unusual fatigue marked the sailors' faces, as everyone talked about the latest weather forecast. The hint was "be wary" of the apparent simplicity of the 477 miles to Les Sables. And wary they had to be since the very first minutes of the inshore race the situation appeared to be not the simplest one.

In extremely tricky conditions, breeze shifting, coming from all directions and going from 5 to 15 knots in a matter of seconds, it was hard for the sailors to "read" on the water where the next puff was going to come from and going from the top to the bottom of the fleet was just a question of not be stuck in a bubble of light air.

figaro1

Photo: Michael Chester

At the Radio France mark a trio formed by Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham), Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Bûches) and Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire) had a huge lead on the rest of the fleet, but then shortly later everything changed dramatically. As confirmed by Jeanne Gregoire's word: "For once I started well but now I'm trailing at the back of the fleet. It's a mess but you have to have fun anyway...When I was going downwind under spinnaker to the Radio France mark, I crossed Isa (Isabelle Joschke) and I told her: don't  worry there is always the CLS ranking. I had two or three miles lead on her but she just flew past me... Now I've got 25 knots and two minutes ago I had 2!"

figaro2

Photo: Michael Chester

According to the latest position report, at 16:00 it was Portuguese Francisco Lobato (ROFF) to have a slight advantage on experienced Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert) and on overall leaderboard leader Jérémie Beyou (BPI). First British skipper was reported to be young Sam Goodchild (Artemis) in fourteenth position and third in the special newcomers' "rookie" standing, chased by Jersey based Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence), also racing his first Solitaire du Figaro. Conrad Humphreys (DMS) was in 21st position while Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) in 42nd.

figaro4

Photo: Michael Chester

Up to the next mark at Wolf Rock (at the tip of Cornwall), that is to say over the next 180 miles, it is likely that the fleet will keep on sailing on a long starboard tack and positioning oneself well on the course will be key.

But, for now it's impossible to say who will take the best option. The answer will only be known tomorrow, around noon, when the sailors will be approaching the Scilly Islands.

Skippers' quotes

Fabien Delahaye (Port de Caen Ouistreham): "An Irish kind of start..."
"Another Irish kind of start... Actually it's like starting all it over again. We had light wind, current, rainstorms. It's not so funny, I'm no longer in the lead. I hope this is going to settle and the wind stops to do the yo-yo, as long as we're we're sailing leeward of the Irish coast you have to get what you get."

Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Bûches): "Now it is gone"
"The breeze has been increasing since we passed the Radio France mark. Fabien and I we had such a lead, but now, it is gone. The wind turned so quickly, could not manage to take the spinnaker down and the boat was going her own way! It's very shifty and the air coming down the cliffs is strong and gusty. Fabien overtook me just before the mark, he got a better puff and jumped ahead, no more than ten seconds enough to cross the line in front of me."

figaro5

Photo: Michael Chester

Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) on the eve of the start commented:
"I'm quite pleased for how things are going actually. It's great to be up there with the front group, I've had a bit of a heck just before the finish of the last leg, lost lots of places there but I'm very confident on how things have gone. I'll try and keep it going, hopefully finish in the top ten another couple of times, it would be very nice. Keep things clean, that's what we have to do in this race. Keep the pace and be consistent, make the right decision make sure you don't burn yourself up for the finish. We're probably going to have south westerly so it's going to be reaching or close reaching, not much chance to use our spinnaker, not until we get to Brittany, and it's going to be tactical all the way. Some very interesting choices to make and particularly when we look at the time we will be approaching the raz de Sein which are crucial points to go around. That tack could change everything in the race, if you make a mistake there it can be very costly. Hopefully the tide will be with us, otherwise we won't be moving very quickly. I think you have to do a strategy to minimize the risk. I'm going to go for speed but keep risk very light. It's just not all or nothing. Having yourself in the top ten near the finish and making sensible decision to keep in there... Better than going for a wild strategy early on and then find yourself in the back of the fleet and be forced to make up two hours."

figaro3

Photo: Michael Chester

Sam Goodchild (Artemis)
"Looks like there will be less wind so it will be more racing than survival. That should be good, hopefully we keep moving all the time, but it's not guaranteed at the moment. I've got my spinnakers back. I don't really know why they keep breaking. We've reinforced everything we know that might break it and we've just got to try not to break them through Leg 3. I've learned a lot about management in the previous leg, learning about yourself, the boat, how to go fast, get the right way, it's a steep learning curve. Generally it's enjoyable, it's up and downs, you try to enjoy it, sailing is what I want to do so...."

Published in Figaro
Sign up for Monday's Afloat e-bulletin (see past editions here) for all this weekend's Irish sailing news, pics and results straight to your inbox.

Monday's edition includes photos and pics from Sunday's Figaro departure from Dun Laoghaire and the start of the Fastnet race from Cowes. Will it be Gold, Silver or Bronze from Weymouth? How will Peter, David and Annalise end up at the Pre-Olympics? Plus: The Topper Worlds at the National YC, Flying fifteen South coast champs in Dunmore East, the J24 Nationals from Lough Erne, Teens battle for the RS Feva Nationals in Cork Harbour,  the Cove People's Regatta, The Oppy Nationals at Howth and the Dragon Nationals from Kinsale. There's also the full results from Dublin Bay SC and Howth.

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Published in Racing
Page 6 of 8

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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