by Pamela Lee 27 Aug 11:54 UTC 30 August 2020 Kenneth Rumball © RL Sailing Team Tweet
Ireland’s Kenneth Rumball of team RL Sailing is in the final preparation stages before starting his first La Solitaire du Figaro which start this Sunday, 30th August in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc.
Having made the twenty-four hour delivery up from Port-La-foret on Sunday, Rumball’s Beneteau Figaro 3 is docked with the rest of the fleet in the marina at Saint-Quay Portrieux while any last preparations are made.
“This is my first season racing in the Figaro 3 and on courses around this section of the French coast, with all the changing schedules and restrictions due to Covid 19 I haven’t had the opportunity to do much training so I’ve found it really beneficial to do the deliveries to the race starts myself. It gives me a chance spend real time on the water and to familiarise myself with some of the navigation in the race areas.” Says Rumball.
Rumball was a late comer to the Figaro 3 circuit this year, originally intending to campaign doublehanded with Irish Co. Skipper Pamela Lee with the aim of representing Ireland in the first Doublehanded Offshore Worlds, which were scheduled for October in Malta. When the Worlds and the majority of the rest of the planned schedule were cancelled, Rumball quickly made the shrewd and ambitious decision to take on a solo campaign for the season, culminating in Le Solitaire du Figaro.
“It’s very clear that the best way to get better at shorthand sailing is to compete in France with the French. The Figaro circuit is incredibly competitive with the best shorthand sailors taking part every year, the Solitaire is the pinnacle of this circuit and a great challenge as a sailor. My main goal this year is to learn as much as possible and the learning curve has certainly been steep!” Says Rumball.
Kenneth Rumball – photo © RL Sailing Team
So far Rumball has raced in the Solo Maitre-Coq from Les Sables D’olonne, the Dhream Cup (doublehanded) from Cherbourg-en-contentin and the Solo Guy Cotton from Concarneau. The Solo Guy Cotton was the last lead up race before the Solitaire and was a final opportunity to really focus on addressing a number of speed deficiencies, to test the new North Sails wardrobe, as well as experiment with managing sleep while racing – one of the biggest challenges. It proved to be a tough race with very fluky, light wind conditions.
“Although disappointed with the final result, I took a lot of positives – good speed, smart decision making, good boat handling and above all strong mental power.” Said Rumball of the race.
Now in the final days before the beginning of the first Solitaire leg, which is a 642 mile course to the Fastnet and back, Rumball is focusing on ironing out any last issues onboard, familiarising himself with the course and the navigation as well as analysing the upcoming weather and tidal patterns. Of course a vital part of the pre-race preparation is mental and physical too, so there’s a strong focus on rest, eating well and exercise with an effort to be in a focused head space on Sunday.
“I’m certainly nervous,” says Rumball, “This is a long leg and a long time to be intensely racing with potentially some adverse weather coming through! So far the experience here in France has been great with all the other Skippers being extremely helpful and welcoming. This racing is tough, but that is exactly why we are here. We are still on the vertical climb of this learning curve!”