Liddy seeks funding to fuel his Figaro ambitions


SAILING:MICK LIDDY’S fledgling La Solitaire du Figaro campaign announcement this month adds a welcome extra Irish dimension to next year’s race but the Dún Laoghaire bid needs to find €115,000 to fund it and make the final entry deadline in eight weeks’ time.

The Grand Prix comes to Dún Laoghaire on its 500-mile second leg and a local entry would mean a lot for Irish interest in a highly-competitive fleet that sails into Liddy’s (32) home port for four days next August. The race is almost entirely dominated by professional entries with top full-time campaigns such as Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm’s costing up to €250,000 per year. Five Irish sailors have indicated an interest but so far there’s no Irish boat confirmation in the 55-boat fleet.

Liddy’s is the latest campaign to go public. Up to 30 companies have been circulated with his sponsorship details and an impressive offshore sailing record. Another Dublin Bay sailor, Paul Ó Riain, who has previous Figaro experience, is also putting a campaign together.

As well as the immediate funding challenges though, Liddy, an Air Corps captain, will also be required, as a rookie, to complete significant preliminary qualification races such as the five-day Solo Figaro Les Sables, starting on March 15th. Skippers are required to sit a medical and have valid sea-survival certificates for an epic race where sleep deprivation has wrecked several campaigns.

The Figaro, now in its 42nd year, is sailed in 33-foot one-design Beneteau yachts over 1,700 miles. The race is broken into four legs around the French coast, the second leg from Caen, in northern France, to Dún Laoghaire will be the only foreign leg.

Liddy is in little doubt about his immediate challenge. “It’s a short runway, alright”, says the helicopter pilot, “but it is still possible to get off the ground.”

His plan is to charter a boat for a fee between €25,000 and €35,000 and he is realistic about prospects once afloat. “Breaking into the top third of this fleet will be very tough, in fact I think I feel I could hold my head up with any finish in the top two thirds of that fleet,” he told The Irish Times.

The combination of skills required for the Figaro appeals to Liddy, a former Round Ireland race record holder who partnered blind adventurer Mark Pollock on last June’s 704-mile circuit. However, Liddy must first secure the boat and funding. The €3,000 entry fee is due on February 1st.