By James O'Connor
In a historic first, two Irish solo sailors, Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan, will be starting the notoriously competitive La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro in France on Sunday, August 26.
Not only is it the first time two Irish sailors will compete in the race on the same year, Molloy first will be ever Irish female to compete in the ‘Tour de France of the ocean.’
Speaking from France, Mayo’s Mulloy said: “Tom and I are really excited for the start. We’re both ‘Rookies’ meaning it’s our first La Solitaire du Figaro race so can’t wait to get out and compete against the best.
“We’re both so proud to be backed by Irish sponsors and supporters, my campaign is led by Taste the Atlantic - A Seafood Journey, and Tom’s by Smurfit Kappa.”
The Solitaire du Figaro is accepted as the premier solo sailing series in the world, and Molloy and Dolan will face four legs ranging in length from one to four days, racing 24 hours a day on 33ft yachts normally crewed by eight people.
The skippers will be supported by shore teams and will have only a few days on dry land between legs to catch up on sleep, study charts, and review weather forecasts before setting out again to race around the clock.
Tom Dolan, racing onboard his Smurfit Kappa sponsored entry, said: “Think of this as the Tour de France of the ocean.
"Short sprints, one to four days of neck-and-neck racing, little time to recover in between legs.
The fleet will leave Le Harve on Sunday, race to Baie de Saint-Brieuc, stop for a few days, then race onto Spain and back to France before the final and shortest race concludes in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie.
The races can be tracked live at www.lasolitaire-urgo.com.