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Displaying items by tag: Solo Maître Coq

Tom Dolan had a disappointing retiral in the weekend's first on offshore race of the season that saw only 18 or 29 of the Solo Maitre Coq fleet finish the course in the Bay of Quiberon.

Dolan, who fell in the cockpit of his Figaro 3 and twisted both his ankle and wrist while in fourth place early in the race, admits to nearly giving up off La Rochelle as the pain was so bad in his ankle. See Facebook vid below.

Irish Sailor of the Year, Dolan, who was pitching to finish in the top 10 of the offshore which has a coefficient of three towards the overall 2021 standings was ninth overall after the first two inshore races of the regatta.

The concern now is that the County Meath sailor will be fit in time for the double-handed transatlantic race, from Concarneau, France to St. Barts starting on Sunday, 9th May in which he is teamed up with Gildas Mahé.

Published in Tom Dolan

The annual Solo Maître CoQ, the traditional curtain-raiser for the Figaro season, has never gone very well for the Irish racer Tom Dolan but the skipper of Smurfit Kappa has this time made a strong start to the early season Vendée based race series and after the two inshore races lies in ninth place in the 29 strong fleet of Figaro Beneteau 3s.

On Monday and Tuesday’s inshore courses which were raced in tactical conditions between Les Sables d'Olonne, Bourgenay and Brem-sur-Mer, Dolan was seventh on Monday and 13th on Tuesday. After the lay-day Wednesday, the fleet takes on a 340 miles coastal offshore course out of Les Sables d’Olonne between the islands of Belle-Ile, Ile de Ré and the Ile de Yeu.

“I'm pretty happy with these first two days of racing. Although it was complicated, the weather worked out as I thought it would and it was quite clear to me. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it all happened pretty much as I had expected.” Said Tom Dolan today in Les Sables d’Olonne, “In the end, I made the right sail choices at the right time went the right way and actually did some great manoeuvres which was gratifying after all the boat-for-boat training we did recently.”

And while he was pleased with the first race’s opening seventh place, he was nearly as happy to have kept his head on the second race and recovered after a bad start.

“ I had a catastrophic start and that put my mental game to the sword but I managed to stay calm and follow my initial game plan without blowing up, ” explains the skipper of Smurfit Kappa. “Coming away with the 13th, in the end, was not too bad.”

Taking full advantage of the lay day to prep and rest before the first long race of the season, Dolan previews the course: “It’s going to be full-on and complex. On the first section, it might be a bit of swings and roundabouts with light winds and currents. By the Birvideaux light (at the Bay of Quiberon) it should be a bit tougher with strong wind and seas before becoming again very random near the end of the course depending on how the timings are. I think the elastic band will extend and compress a whole bunch of times. So you have to be right on it, in the group from the start to finish, and with your eyes open and not miss a thing, especially over the first few miles on the Ile de Ré side. The positive thing is that this range of conditions and course will allow us to validate a whole lot of things, " concludes the Irish sailor who is pitching to finish in the Top 10 of the offshore which has a coefficient of 3 towards the overall standings.

The offshore starts 1300hrs Thursday and should usually finish lunchtime Saturday.

Published in Tom Dolan

It is with a mix of hard-earned confidence and early season nerves that Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan starts his 2021 racing season on Monday in Les Sables d’Olonne. France on the annual Solo Maître CoQ race series.

Since finishing sixth overall on Smurfit Kappa on the French Elite Offshore Championship in 2020, Dolan has worked hard and smart through the back end of last season and the early spring to try and ensure he has taken all the necessary steps to improve further on last year’s successes.

After the race season closed he worked late into the Autumn speed testing and two boat tuning with French ace Gildas Mahé and a small group from Technique Voile sails. Together they effectively deconstructed many of the ideas that were prevailing in the Figaro Beneteau 3 class and revalidated them for themselves, notably looking at flatter sail profiles so developing equal or more power but with less drag.

More recently Dolan has sailed long hours on the water working with his Lorient Grand Large training group especially on perfecting super smooth and effective boat-on-boat work, manoeuvres starts and mark roundings – the short inshore courses have often been his weakness.

At the same time he has been doing what a lot of what he calls ‘geekery’, in essence work on the computer – collecting and crunching data from all kinds of past Figaro Beneteau 3 racing and training - to further refine the ‘polars’ for his Smurfit Kappa, that is the computer-generated target speeds and angles for optimum performance.

“I am definitely ready to go now. I have never felt so ready at the start of a season and I feel like I have got the balance of working hard and resting just right.” Dolan smiled on arrival in Les Sables d’Olonne where the Vendée Globe started in November and finished between late January and March 5th. He added,

“I did a lot of training at the back end of last season and that was good because not only was it valuable you know that is banked for this season and I start this season knowing that we did that and have complete confidence in our set up but have now been able to work on the weaknesses, starts and short, intense inshore races, so that I really feel like I have made a lot of progress since the end of last season, and have not had to put the boat in the water too early. So I feel fresh, super motivated, confident in what we have done and learned, but nervous!”

The Solo Maître CoQ, the first event of the five that form the French Elite Offshore Racing Championship. starts with short, inshore races Monday and Tuesday, a lay day Wednesday before a 340 nautical miles offshore race from Thursday to Saturday.

“The goal this week is to dust off the cobwebs and validate what we have been doing. The main pinnacles are the Transat Concarneau Saint Barths in May and La Solitaire du Figaro August-September, so, although I want a good result here – as much because this has been a bit of a ‘black cat event (ed note, in France the black cat is seen as unlucky) – it is not a dealbreaker,” Dolan asserts,

“I feel like I have had a good balance through the winter and spring and am really ready to go racing now. I have done the work I wanted to do and in training I have been going well so I am quite confident, but, hey let’s wait and see!”


Solo Maître CoQ, Programme

Monday, March 22, 9h00 Skippers briefing
11h00 Start of the 1st race

Tuesday 23 March 9h00 Skippers briefing
11h00 Start of the 2nd race

Wednesday, March 24 Day OFF

Thursday, March 25 9h00 Skippers briefing
13h00 Start of the offshore race

Saturday, March 27 Finish of the offshore race

Sunday, March 28 Prizegiving at 11:30 a.m.

Published in Tom Dolan

Ireland will have two solo entries in next week's Solo Maitre Coq offshore race for the first time which starts and finishes in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Tom Dolan of County Meath and Kenny Rumball of Dun Laoghaire Harbour will go head to head in the Figaro3 Solo race, an important season starter that will ultimately see both campaigns compete in the gruelling Figaro race rescheduled for this September.

The pair will compete in an international 30-boat fleet that has some of the biggest stars in French solo sailing.

Since relaunching at the beginning of June the Brittany based racer, Dolan, from Kells, has been accumulating hours on his Figaro Beneteau Smurfit Kappa and, as Afloat reported here, is now making final preparations for what will be the first race of the season.

This will be Kenny Rumball's race debut since launching his campaign for September's Figaro circuit, as Afloat reported here, with a daily training routine on Dublin Bay over the past month. Rumball is now heading back to France preparing for the 270-mile Solo Maitre Coq and his first taste of the French offshore circuit and bringing with him some domestic competition for Dolan.

The fleet is packed with offshore sailing stars including Armel Le Cléac’h the IMOCA world champion in 2008 and French champion in a single-handed yacht race in 2003. Le Cléac’h notably won the Solitaire du Figaro twice and has finished second twice in the Vendée Globe.

Dolan has previously raced the Solo Maitre Coq, an important race on the Figaro circuit, finishing mid-fleet in 2019 as has Royal Cork's David Kenefick who took 17th place in the 2014 edition.

The full 2020 entry list is here

Published in Tom Dolan

#fullirish – David Kenefick has finished 17th out of 35 starters in the Solo Maitre Coq race. The mid–fleet finish in the 270–mile opener to the 2014 season is a strong result for the Irish Sailor of the Year.  Here the Royal Cork sailor recounts his race, a game of four quarters.

The first part was light, very light and so light that for long periods we just hung there waiting for something to fill in. The race committee needed three starts to get us all off the line. I had had two great starts in the middle of the line as you can see from the photo, but the third was not my best. The line was short for 38 boats and that makes it even more critical to get off in good shape. I really struggled to get going on the first beat and as the wind was dying I struggled more. By the time I got to the first mark I was one of the tail-enders and it was looking like a long race. But I've learnt from last year that these races often yield real opportunities to get back into it. This 270-mile race, with two laps of a figure of eight course around the island of Yeu and Ré passing by a gate in Les Sables in the middle, was going to be full of transitions, corners and lots of tidal things to manage. On top of that a ridge of High pressure was going to pass overhead from the North to the South.

The ridge axis was overhead at ile d'Yeu in the middle of the night and with a cardinal mark right on the shore to go round, plus plenty of unlit fish-farms to get around and a nice knot or so of current, navigation was tricky. I approached almost last into here and found most of the fleet already anchored struggling to get around the buoy. So I was back in the group now and stayed close to others for the next legs, which took us back to les Sables through dawn on Friday.

By mid-afternoon the ridge was well and truly to the South of us putting us in a decent Northerly wind that slowly moved to the North west over the rest of the race and stayed always above 12 knots. I slept nicely on the straight line downwind legs and pulled back into the next group on the beat away from the bridge at ile de Ré. The boat is going well and I was comfortable with all parts of my game, navigation, tactics and speed. Now it was just a case of staying in the match through the second night, and not burn out. I could see that others had dropped off the race pace and I suppose my experience from last season is really starting to drop into use now.

It was a tough second part of the race and it is always tough going into a second night at sea but I'm really pleased with how it went. I crossed the finish line this morning in 19th place but hear as I come ashore that two boats that were ahead of me get the mandatory two hour time penalty for being over the line in the last minute to the start. So I finished 17th out of 35 boats, which if I'm not mistaken is officially the top half of the fleet!

Looking forward to the next big race, which is in six weeks in Concarneau. Between now and then I'll deliver the boat back to Lorient this evening after the rugby match and the prizegiving and then we have some more coaching sessions with Tanguy Leglattin in April. I'll also be working on my fundraising too as I haven't yet reached my budget commitments for the year.

Published in Figaro

#fullirish – Sailing out of the iconic Vendée Globe canal in Les Sables d'Olonne, France today, Irish sailor of the year David Kenefick had a poor start to his first race of the 2014 season but there is still all to play for as the Royal Cork sailor embarks on a 270-–miler tonight. He gave a podcast on his preparations here.

Kenefick, the only Irish sailor competing, was along side eight British skippers; Artemis Offshore Academy Rookies Rich Mason (Artemis 77), Alan Roberts (Artemis 23), Sam Matson (Artemis 21) and graduates Jack Bouttell (Overboard), Ed Hill (Macmillan Cancer Support), Henry Bomby (Black Mamba) and Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) and Phil Sharp (Phil Sharp Racing) – kick started their 2014 solo Figaro season with the Solo Maître Coq. Due to the extremely light winds forecast for the duration of the race, the organisers made the decision to shorten the 320 mile course by 50 miles: "It's going to be a difficult race as there is next to no wind forecast for the duration," explained Jack, who has had just nine days since taking over his Figaro to sail to Les Sables d'Olonne for the race. "Originally looping between Île d'Ré and Belle Île, the course instead sees the fleet sail a figure of eight from Les Sable d'Olonne north to Île d'Yeu and back, and then south to Île de Ré and back – passing Les Sables three times on route. The new course means organisers can easily shorten the race further if necessary."

Sun cream and sunglasses on, the 38 boat Solo Maître Coq fleet crossed start line at the third attempt just after 1130GMT, light winds of around 6 knots saw the Figaros drifting early over the line early resulting in two general recalls. Coming into the line on what was to be the actual start, Macmillan skipper Ed 'nailed' a perfect pin end start. At the other extreme, Sam Goodchild, who races into his fourth Figaro season, was biding his time on the 'right' to ensure he was the closet boat to the committee boat. New kids on the block Rich and Alan got their Figaro racing careers off to a fine start, their high-level dinghy racing experience puts a sting in their sterns, forcing double Solitaire du Figaro winner Yann Elies to shadow them all the way to the windward mark. Event Coach Marcus Hutchinson reports: "As ever there were big differences of opinion as to which side of the long first upwind leg would be the place to be. Ed was hell bent on the left and Sam and Jack were super keen on the right. Alan and Rich, perhaps being more conservative, choose to start in the middle of the line – both going really well with speed in their own space. Both sailors quickly pulled out into strong positions halfway up the beat."

Marcus continued: "Sam and Jack got what they wanted on the right, but realised after about 10 minutes that in fact the left hand side close to the shore seemed to have better pressure and chose their moments to move back across the course before any rot could set in. On the left and following a strong start, Ed sailed well and his choice paid off with the reward of a sixth place rounding at the top mark, followed by a relieved Sam Goodchild in 14th, Alan in 19th, Rich 23rd, Henry 32nd, Jack 33rd and Sam Matson 34th."

Popping their spinnakers on the first turning mark, the fleet set off on a long and drawn out run in the sun towards the mark at Île d'Yeu. With top boat speeds of around 5 knots the fleet's ETA at the island, just 35 miles away, is midnight tonight. Although not physically demanding, the light conditions of the Solo Maître Coq will take it's toll on the skippers concentration and morale, especially when drifting past Les Sables d'Olonne again tomorrow near to where the finish line will be – a course change described by Sam Goodchild as 'torturous'. Prior to the race, 2014 British Rookie Rich outlined what he thinks the biggest challenges presented by the Solo Maître Coq will be: "The forecast for the majority of the race is under five knots, which means concentration and mental endurance is going to play a big part in where we finish. We'll be looking out for any little gust of wind, and trimming, trimming, trimming our sails all the time. I'm not expecting to sleep much during the race and some of the skippers reckon we'll be weighing anchor with a total drop off forecast for tonight. Mentally, it's going to be a really tough race."

Experienced French solo skippers Thierry Chabagny (Gedimat), Gildhas Mahé (Interface Concept) and Fabien Delahaye (Macif) currently lead the fleet to Île d'Yeu, with Ed (Macmillan Cancer Support) in 4th and Rich (Artemis 77) heading up the Rookie fleet, with Alan (Artemis 23) not far behind. The 270 mile Solo Maître Coq is expected to take around 35 hours to complete, with skippers finishing Saturday 15th March ahead of the prize giving and RBS Six Nations finals all on the same day.

Published in Figaro

Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

© Afloat 2020