Vive la France as race heads for Dun Laoghaire

Geraldine Gittens

DUN Laoghaire is set to host a major French ocean race this summer -- after it missed the boat for the high-profile 2009 Volvo Ocean Race and failed to apply for the 2012 race.

The La Solitaire du Figaro race will make a stopover at Dun Laoghaire harbour from August 10 until August 14, and organisers hope it will attract the same numbers as the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures, which has been axed for this year.

It will be the only stopover outside France for the race, which involves 50 single-handed yachts, and it will bring a French festival atmosphere to the town.

The news comes following disappointment that Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council did not apply to be a stopover port for the 2012 Volvo Ocean Race.

Cllr Jane Dillon Byrne said: "It's an exciting project, and they'll probably have 80 supporters working with the crews on the boats.

"The harbour company and the council will be preparing a festival to go along with it, and there'll be a French village and French market-type atmosphere out on the pier.

"We hope it'll attract the same amount of people to Dun Laoghaire that came for the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures."

A row erupted among local councillors last year after the council failed to bid for a stage in the 2009 Volvo Ocean Race.

The Volvo race stopped at Galway, generating €55m for the local economy.