North Sails NEWS
FINDING THE FIGARO FORMULA
Setting the Pace for Irish Offshore Sailors
Kenneth Rumball has been sailing since he was a toddler with his parents, making a name for himself in dinghies and then adding a number of impressive offshore miles to his resume. With fewer opportunities in Ireland to make full-time career professional sailing, he went the academic route and studied accounting, only to be pulled back into the sailing industry. Rumball took on the Irish National Sailing School’s ownership and running, using his own experiences to inspire youth sailors in Ireland to pursue the sport and even invite them to race with him.
Rumball is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm, and a leader for Ireland in sailing, so it was no surprise that when the Olympics added a double-handed offshore event, he would take that challenge on too, teaming up with co-skipper Pamela Lee in the Figaro class, and enlisting the help of North Sails Expert Nigel Young and his loft team. Rumball and Lee learned some sailmaking skills with the North Sails team to prepare them for any surprises offshore better.
“We’ve got the standard Figaro 3 setup, a full mainsail, a big spinnaker, a small spinnaker, a Code Zero, and a J3,” Says Pam. “When we returned from France, we got the sails off the boat and took them to the North loft, and we got a full sail check and any repairs that needed to be done. North Sails Shane Hughes at the Wicklow loft talked us through everything he had done and showed us what to look for, what to be worried about, and prepped us with a sail repair kit that we hopefully will not have to use. Having everything checked over gives us the confidence to push the boat to maximum performance.”
Rumball describes pulling the sails out of the bag for the first time, “they fit, and they worked. With our training schedule, I didn’t want to buy sails and then go back and ask for things to be changed. I wanted sails that worked would be fast and long-lasting. Nigel Young was my first call to make that happen.”
Together, with the North Team in Ireland and France, RL Sailing was able to get their full 3Di set-up dialed in and tuned. “The product support has been just fantastic,” says Rumball.
With events canceled across the globe, including the double-handed worlds in Malta, Rumball used the Solitaire Du Figaro as the jumping-off point for his training schedule in the Figaro.
“We’ve been charging forward on the Figaro, so we looked to the Solitaire, and I decided to give it a go. The Solitaire is an incredibly tough race,” says Rumball. “We were not as planned as we could have been, but Pam was there shoreside to support me. It was a great training experience.”
The team has been based in France for most of the summer for the Solitaire and Spi Ouest, eager to train against the French teams that will be their competition in 2024. They’ve delivered the boat back to Ireland for the fall, where Pamela teamed up with Catherine Hunt for the ‘Round Ireland record, setting a benchmark for female sailors while getting more time in the Figaro.
“When they announced the Paris 2024 Olympics would have a mixed crew double-handed offshore event, many avenues in the sport opened up for female sailors to gain experience offshore because suddenly, people need offshore female training partners, and that’s how I started sailing with Kenny for Ireland,” says Pam.
These offshore experiences are an integral part of their training regime; double-handed sailing requires a different approach focused on endurance, managing multiple roles on the boat on your own, and having excellent self-discipline. Lee and Rumball are looking for every opportunity possible to test their offshore stamina, despite the pandemic’s challenges.
“The reason we also chose the Figaro circuit is because the French are the best short-handed offshore sailors in the world.” Attests Rumball, “If you wanted to compete in an event like Paris 2024, and represent your country, you’ve got to race against the best people in the world, and that is the French.”
The team is serious about their fitness and has been exploring different ways to train up. Encouraged by Lee, who is already a seasoned kiter, Rumball has taken up kiteboarding as a full-body cross-training workout. They also bike, practice yoga, lift, and run. They are also augmenting their freeze-dried meals with fresh foods pre-packaged to last for a few days at sea, although Rumball still loves porridge in the jet boil.
The pair plans their calendar for next year and hopes to compete in all the French Figaro events they possibly can, making a name for their country in the latest Olympic discipline.