La Solitaire du Figaro coming to Dun Laoghaire in 2011

In a major announcement for Dun Laoghaire sailing a top French fixture involving 50 single handed yachts will visit the east coast port next Summer. Dun Laoghaire will be the only stop over outside France for next year’s prestigious La Solitaire du Figaro race.

The race is regarded as one of the world’s solo sailing great events and one of the toughest on the international sailing calendar.

Although having strong connections with Ireland this is the first time the 42 year old fixture will visit Ireland’s largest sailing centre.

The fleet will moor in Dun Laoghaire harbour at the finish of the second leg and hosted by the National Yacht Club. They are expected to stay for a week.

This year the race visited Kinsale and in the past has also visited the Irish ports of Crosshaven, Howth and Dingle.

One month since the finish of the Solitaire du Figaro 2010, event organisers are already looking ahead, to 2011. The 42nd edition announces a new route: four legs, four French ports and one foreign stopover. The full details will be unveiled at the Paris Boat Show, on Friday December 3rd.

La Solitaire is going back to its roots. Perros-Guirec and Brittany from where the race will start on Sunday, 31st July 2011, are the most faithful of all host ports in the history of the race as Perros-Guirec has the record number of participations, this being the 16th time that the town will welcome the race. The last time was in 2005 and there is no doubt that Perros-Guirec will do its absolute best for this comeback.

The second French stopover in 2011 will be Caen, where the race will go back for the third time. The harbour and the village are ideally situated in the city centre and will surely gather thousands of visitors during the week long stay, with a full schedule of social events organised by the local municipality.

The third French rendez-vous is les Sables d’Olonne, which requires little introduction. In 2007, the port in the Vendée region celebrated the victory of Michel Desjoyeaux and since then the local authorities and the town live in very close ties to yachting, always ready to welcome sailors of all sorts, and namely from the Vendée Globe race… undoubtedly the people from Les Sables will show a very warm welcome to the skippers competing on the 42nd edition of La Solitaire next summer, as they have already done on six occasions on previous occasions as a host port for a race start or finish.

Dieppe will host the finish and close of La Solitaire du Figaro 2011 race. The Haute-Normandie region town expects to see the finish on a around August 24th. The town first hosted the race in 2009, regarded as a great success and one that the organisers wish to repeat by returning of for the finish. Locals in Dieppe will welcome the fleet over the final miles and will put on a whole host of celebrations through to Sunday 28th of August for the traditional final parade sail.

Just one stop over outside of France is planned and this is to be held in Ireland. La Solitaire will go to Dún Laoghaire for the first time, just ten minutes from the bustling town centre of Dublin at the finish of the second leg. The second stage promises to be a nice discovery for the Figaro sailors who will appreciate the charming Bay of Dublin and National Yacht Club’s members warm welcome.

Perros-Guirec, Caen, Dún Laoghaire, Les Sables d’Olonne and Dieppe: five cities for a 42nd edition marked by many novelties. Sailing across the Channel, the Atlantic ocean, the Irish sea and the Celtic sea, the Solitaire du Figaro 2011 guarantees to be one of the season’s greatest sports events.

Congratulations to ID&SRG Members!!

Following the Irish domination of the RORC Commodores Cup 2010, this weekend saw further Irish success in the annual RORC Cherbourg Race. Nick Martin and Barry Hurley co-skippered “Diablo-J”, a J-105, to not only win the RORC trophy for the Two–Handed Division, but took home the Yacht Club de France trophy for IRC 2 and the Cherbourg trophy for IRC Overall. Link to RORC race report below:

You can read more about Nick and Barry’s achievement in Tom McSweeney’s ECHO sailing column here:



2-handed Irish rankings - scoring system

Right, many have asked how I intend to “rank” 2-handers considering some take part in the ISORA, others not, and that the Round Ireland Race should really feature prominently considering its length.

Well, put simply, I am not going to re-invent the wheel and after scouring for points system solution, I have decided to apply the same scoring system than RORC (based on the Cox-Sprague system).

The scoring is a function of the number of starters and a “race coefficient” reflecting the length and difficulty of the race.

The “race coefficients” applied for the Irish race calendar are:

ISORA < 75NM => race coefficient = 1

ISORA > 75NM => race coefficient = 1.2

Round Ireland 2-handed => race coefficient = 1.6

Applying the above rules gives us the following provisional overall standings for the 2-handed Irish circuit:

If I have omitted any somebody or some race, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Short-handed sailing set to have a bright future

By kind permission of famous marine correspondent and journalist Tom McSweeney, I am delighted to post a copy of one of his articles published recently in the weekly sailing page of the Evening Echo Cork.


“Short-handed sailing is a testing level of the sport, but I enjoyed it thoroughly with just three of us aboard my Sigma 33 in 12 knots of westerly breeze on a six-leg race with two spinnaker runs.

During almost two hours it was lively after a spinnaker hoist start. Flying the ‘kite’ as it is colloquially known, is arguably the most testing part of racing.

Seventeen boats took part and there was plenty of crew work. A Sigma 33 normally requires at least five. In heavy weather it could be seven.

This was the RCYC short-handed wine race off Crosshaven, sponsored by Uí Loingsigh of Glanmire. Boats of all sizes were forced to reduce crews making the race quite testing.

Back ashore there was an air of exhilaration amongst those who had raced. The conditions suited. Heavier weather would have made it tougher, but it started me thinking about short-handed racing for which a new association has been formed – the Irish Double & Solo Racing Group, aiming to develop “a vibrant community of Irish solo and double-handed sailors” and to establish regular racing events.

In the past two years Irish sailors have made an impact on world short-handed racing. Damian Foxall from Kerry won the two-crew Barcelona World Race in 2008 with French co-skipper Jean Pierre Dick in the Open 60 Paprec-Virbac. In June of last year, Barry Hurley from Cobh won his class and finished 4th overall in the OSTAR, the Original Single-Handed Transatlantic Race, on his 35-footer Dinah.

There has been an increase in the number of Irish sailors taking part in solo and double-handed racing. Foxall first came to national attention in the solo French Figaro Race. Paul O Riain from Dublin has also raced the Figaro, which regularly calls to Ireland.

But this is, strictly speaking, not approved in Irish waters by Government declaration. For several years a Government ‘Notice to Mariners’ has prohibited solo sailing in Irish waters. This warns that, under international maritime law, sailors must keep an effective watch at all times while at sea, regarded as impossible because solo sailors have to sleep.

There have been considerable achievements in single-handed sailing. Francis Chichester, Chay Blyth, Robin Knox-Johnston, Ellen MacArthur, Bill King of Oranmore, followed the lead of the famed Joshua Slocum over a hundred years ago.

High-profile teenage single-handed circumnavigation attempts have gained publicity in recent weeks, but the more practical issue of short-handed and solo racing concerns the new Irish association.

The World Speed Sailing Record Council, affiliated to the International Sailing Federation, has declared that solo record attempts around Ireland will not be recognised because of the Government ruling. No other country has been affected in this manner.

Next month the third leg of the Figaro Race will be from Brest to Kinsale. The single-handed competitors should not sail in Irish waters – by Government decision.

There are varying views about single-handed sailors which run from “madness” to “the best of sailing.” While appreciating safety, solo sailors adapt sleep patterns to take rest, typically in 15-20 minute segments in the hour, with the aid of radar alarms and modern technology, including Automatic Identification Systems that highlight shipping traffic. Reports of seafarer fatigue at sea and watchkeepers falling asleep while on duty seem to set similar challenges to solo sailing.

The issue of racing alone in Irish waters won’t be tackled immediately by the new Irish Double & Solo Racing Group, but it will try to persuade authorities that new yacht technology allows compliant, safe sailing.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club has announced the addition of a two-handed class to its non-stop Round Britain and Ireland Race starting on August 23 from Cowes. This is a separate race to the two-handed Shetland Round Britain and Ireland which will have a stop-over in Kinsale.

• Dave Dwyer and his crew on their Mills 39, successfully defended their position as British National Champion at the Royal Ocean Racing Club in the Solent. They were in flying form against opposition from an international fleet from France, Belgium, Hong Kong, Holland, South Africa, the UK and Irish compatriots. A great achievement, only the second time a defender has retained the title. Their victory is an indication of the quality of sailing on which was recently given a higher-rated handicap.

As a prelude to the Commodore’s Cup in August – the offshore ‘world cup’ of sailing – this was a useful test for the Irish team of three boats, all from the RCYC. As well as Anthony O’Leary finished fourth overall in Antix and Robert Davies was 4th in the IRC class in Roxy 6.

• Light winds dominated the Round Ireland Race, sponsored by Conway Media, making slow progress for the fleet though in pleasant weather conditions. Tonnerre de Breskens from Holland led 37 entrants all the way. Cavatina (Ian Hickey) from the Royal Cork Crosshaven won Class 5, for pre 1987-designed boats, finishing 13th overall and 3rd in IRC. Joker from Kinsale (Michael Broderick and Dave Gibbons) was 24th overall and 2nd in Class 6 for Sigma 38s. Barry Hurley, in the double-handed class, on Dinah was 12th overall. Exactly a week after it left, Yahttzee, was the last boat to finish back at Wicklow Sailing Club.

• As expected, CORK led the Clipper Round the World race fleet into Kinsale. No great surprise when it had a 48-hour start advantage. But a publicity achievement for the organisers.”

Ideal short-handed racer?

A few people have asked me what were my views on the ideal short-handed  racer…

I have been thinking about it for a long time and drew up my 10 points wish list: Continue reading Ideal short-handed racer…FOUND IT!!!

Sailing on Class 40

Thanks to Mick Liddy, Mark Pollock and the owner of the boat Mark Lepesqueux for inviting me for a sail on

Mark knows his stuff and has an impressive track record in the Figaro Class as well as participations in the Transat Jacques Vabre and other famous offshore races. He currently prepares his boat and finalises his campaign for the Route du Rhum 2010 next November (more info on his website here

As I had been staring at the boat for a week on the pontoon, I was pretty excited when the brain new sail was hoisted for sea trials…well, that is no mainsail like any I’ve seen before. Continue reading Sailing on Class 40 “” – Impressions

Team Daft Update

Follow the progress of Mick Leady and Mark Pollock onboard their Class 40 and onto their double-handed Round Ireland Challenge LIVE! from their facebook page here:

Mick and Mark will be flying the NYC Burgee at the start of the Round Ireland Race on Sunday June 20th.

Watch Team Daft’s interview on youtube here:

Latest News: Team Daft safely arrived at the NYC at lunch time after their 650NM delivery from the South of France!!! see latest pictures here:

Proper Sailing This...

Member of the ID&SRG Maurice O’Connell from North Sails rediscovers the pleasure of 2-handed sailing…

Suzie and I “raced” double handed on Sigma 33 “September Song” in DBSC Spring Chicken series last Sunday.

75-odd boats on the water in four starts. It’s only tremendous.

Results are calculated on “FECKO” – Fintain Cairns’s ECHO.

Suzie made tea going down to runs and we had the craic as the larger boats came past us, their crews gazing wistfully at the calm serenity and smiles on our ship.

Final race this Sunday – will have to revert to type for that one I guess.



Class 40 - 40 Degrees in Carribean RORC 600

Double and Solo Racing Group member Michael Boyd is currently taking part in the Carribean RORC 600 miles race (official site: on board Class 40 Forty Degrees with a crew of 4.

Michael has chartered 40 Degrees to take part in WSC Round Ireland Race next June as a 2-handed entry and is “learning” the boat…

Crew John Patrick Cunnigham sent this report “live” from the boat on February 23rd at 0400 local time.

After a morning of final preparations and sturdy breakfasts, 40 Degrees set out to English Harbour for the RORC 600 start at 1230. Continue reading Class 40 – 40 Degrees in Carribean RORC 600

A Farr Class 40 for August 2010

Found on Sailing Anarchy…Farr Yacht Design coming into the fray.

New Zealand based Project Coordinator, Lapo Ancillotti, and businessman Francesco Piva have created BTBoats Ltd in order to manage the New Zealand production and Worldwide marketing of the KIWI 40FC – an exciting production Class 40 designed by Farr Yacht Design and built by Cookson Boats. Ancillotti, Farr Yacht Design, and Cookson Boats have collaborated on numerous projects over the last two decades. This experienced and successful team, enriched by the arrival of Francesco Piva, has enthusiastically embraced the challenge of creating a very innovative, fast, and competitive production Class40 yacht – the KIWI 40FC.