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Displaying items by tag: La Solitaire du Figaro

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Rookie Kenny Rumball is currently as high as 15th place and staying very much in touch with the fleet in the opening hours of Stage 3 of La Solitaire du Figaro tonight while Ireland's top-ranked Tom Dolan is at at the back of the pack after this afternoon's start but such positions are most likely temporary.

Racing in very light and variable easterly winds, progress this Sunday afternoon has been as slow for the 33 solo skippers racing on Stage 3 from Dunkirk to Saint Nazaire at the entrance to the Loire estuary.

With the fleet spread almost side-by-side along a north-south line 25 nautical miles long, gains and losses appear mostly temporary. The choice of staying offshore in the stronger ebb current and better breeze seemed to have paid a very welcome dividend for three times winner Yann Eliès (Quéguiner Materiaux-Leucémie Espoir) and Britain’s Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) who came back to take the top positions in the middle of the afternoon but with the fleet racing side by side off Le Havre at 1600hrs this afternoon that gain appeared to evaporate again and there was nothing in it as the fleet race slowly westwards towards the headlands of the Cherbourg peninsula, Barfleur and then Cap de La Hague at some 45 miles ahead of them across the Baie de la Sein

“This is how we expected this stage to be.” Commented Race Director Francis Le Goff this afternoon, “Now the combination of light weather and the tides of the Cotentin (Cherbourg) will now push the sailors to make big choices. The seas are like a lake meantime, but a lake with a lot of seaweed.”

Le Goff, who accompanies the fleet on one of the three guardboats, considers there is a good chance for the leaders to still catch the last of the favourable current at Barfleur and the Cap de la Hague on the east of the peninsula but they may then be stopped at the Raz de Blanchard at Alderney, a tidal gate which proved crucial during last year’s race.

Meantime the focus is to stay on the pace with the group and try to keep rested and hydrated in the strong sunshine, looking ahead to a long second night at sea which should see the wind shift more to the north-east as the fleet start to escape a sticky ridge of high pressure centred in the east of the Channel.

Roberts and Eliès continue to take the offshore track and may well continue to profit, the French skipper who was third on Stage 2 is looking to back up that decent finish with another top five, whilst the British skipper Roberts is seeking his first top ten finish of a La Solitaire du Figaro on which he was tipped among the top favourites.

Meantime in terms of distance to the next waypoint there are just five nautical miles between first and 30th place but that picture will almost certainly be very different come Monday morning. Patience and focus will be key requirements tonight.

Published in Figaro

Tom Dolan is hoping the same measured, steady approach that has served him well on the first two stages of La Solitaire du Figaro will work just as well on Stage 3, a challenging 504 miles leg from Dunkirk in the very northeast of France, round the Brittany peninsula to Saint Nazaire at the entrance to the Loire estuary.

The 33-year-old Irish skipper of Smurfit Kappa has logged a tenth and an 11th and lies 11th overall, one hour and 11 minutes behind leader Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). On a very tightly packed leaderboard he is just 33 minutes off second place after an aggregate of six days of racing, and a few seconds away from the top 10.

In Dunkirk today in the pleasant September sunshine Dolan was not letting the prospect of a very challenging third leg upset his mindset. The stage will include two of the most famous, rocky, tidal races in France, the Raz Blanchard at Alderney and the Raz de Sein off the tip of Brittany. Winds are once again expected to be light to moderate for the duration of the four-day stage which starts at 1600hrs local time. This race is immediately followed by Stage 4, a 24 hours 180 miles final sprint.

Stage 3 is a challenging 504 miles leg from Dunkirk in the very northeast of France, round the Brittany peninsula to Saint Nazaire at the entrance to the Loire estuaryStage 3 is a challenging 504 miles leg from Dunkirk in the very northeast of France, round the Brittany peninsula to Saint Nazaire at the entrance to the Loire estuary

“I am thinking like most people that this third stage will be crucial in terms of the final classification of the race. Even if I have done well enough these first two legs I go into this one just looking to try and do the same again, I stay focused, humble and not let things run away with me.” He said, “This is not an easy leg, we are in anticyclonic weather system with the ridge of high pressure to go through with light winds, again, then downwind in the light, then the tidal gates. I think people will get away the gaps will open and close like elastic. I just want to stick with my plan and keep pace with the fleet.”

Winds are set to be light on Sunday and timings on the headlands on a classic race down the Channel can be key, as will be making a good start off the line Saturday afternoon.

“We will be racing against the current, short tacking to start with and it will always be good to be in the top group. But I don’t really want to think too much about the result or what might be, I'll try to do my own race without looking too much at others at the AIS (radar). We'll see when we get there ".

Published in Tom Dolan

Finishing 11th into Dunkirk, France on the 404 miles second stage of La Solitaire du Figaro this evening Ireland’s Tom Dolan has maintained the level of consistency which he was seeking when he left Saint Brieuc on Sunday morning.

As Afloat reported earlier, adding to his tenth on the 624 miles first stage, around Fastnet and back, the skipper of Smurfit Kappa now lies in an excellent 11th overall, one hour and 11 minutes behind leader Armel Le Cléac’h who won the second stage.

On a tightly packed leaderboard, Dolan is now only 12 minutes outside the top five as the 35 solo skippers seek to maximise their rest and recovery before Sunday’s restart for the 504 nautical miles stage to Saint Nazaire at the entrance to the Loire estuary.

“I seem to be going quite well. I am definitely staying much cooler and focused on the race course and getting away from the starts a bit better. To be honest, I am a bit surprised how well it is going, but in saying that I have worked hard and am doing more in terms of preparation. I feel more confident in what I am doing.” Acknowledged a visibly tired Dolan on the finishers dock in Dunkirk,

“What I planned to do I really pretty much did, I had in my notes to stay north of the fleet on the way back across the Channel and ended up to the south which lost me a few places but overall I am pretty happy with how it went. I am a lot more patient. The more I do this the more I realise that everybody makes mistakes on this race. And this race so far is so very close there is nothing really in it.” Dolan reported, “Now I really need to make sure I get as much sleep as I can for the next stage.”

Published in Tom Dolan

There's another strong performance in the making for County Meath's Tom Dolan in the second stage of the La Solitaire du Figaro today with the third time Irish Figarista lying 11th in the 35-boat fleet, having been as high as fourth at one stage yesterday. Dolan, who finished tenth in the first leg, is expected to finish leg two this evening is currently ten miles off the leader. 

Ireland's Kenny Rumball of RL Sailing from Dun Laoghaire is lying 33rd in his first-ever Figaro competition. 

Two times La Solitaire du Figaro champion Armel Le Cleach (Banque Populaire) said before the start that he was 'going to be an opportunist' on this 51st edition. For the second time in as many stages the Vendee Globe winner has been true to his word but this time his risk was positively rewarded.

Prepared to hold further to the east, to leeward of his rivals on last night's beat from the north Brittany coast 100 miles to Eddystone Lighthouse, Le Cleac'h's slightly gutsy move was rewarded with a small jump on the pack which this Monday afternoon he has increased to a very useful 3.3 miles over a very compact group of pursuers. Transitioning an occluded front it may be Le Cleac'h was prepared to press his luck, but more likely he saw less cloud coming toward him and so was confident the front had evaporated and was therefore confident in his break away from the peloton.

Early on Stage 1 to the Fastnet and back Le Cleac'h chased his hunches and had strayed away from the pack and initially paid a heavy toll in miles to the leader. But a remarkable comeback got him to fourth at the finish, 10 minutes and 20 seconds behind stage winner Xavier Macaire. It not only got him into contention but also underlined that the 44 year old has ample speed and is very much a title contender. Indeed he would be top of the overall classification this afternoon if the race was stopped. With a new Ultime in build, the Vendee Globe title in his back pocket and the solid support of the French bank, Le Cleac'h has nothing to prove to the sailing world, or his peers.

At approaching the halfway point of the leg, with the winds due remain moderate to fresh for the remainder of the passage to Dunkirk the pacemakers should reach Dunkirk around 2000-2100hrs Tuesday evening.

Published in Tom Dolan

 The second stage of the La Solitaire du Figaro started on the Baie de Saint-Brieuc, northern Brittany in a light to moderate north-easterly breeze at 1100hrs this Sunday morning. The 404 nautical miles stage takes the 35 strong field of solo sailors east to Dunkirk, a new destination port for the multi-stage solo offshore race which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The leg is expected to take two and a half days – a veritable sprint compared to the 642 miles, four-night first stage marathon to the Fastnet and back - but once again sailors and weather experts alike consider that it is this first tricky light winds night which is very likely to shape the finish order into the historic, easternmost city of France.

The tricky beat to Eddystone, off Plymouth, is followed by a long, fast 160 miles downwind run east up the channel to a mark, Antifer, off Le Havre then continuing 100 miles more on a downwind procession to Dunkirk, the fleet increasingly funnelled into a narrow lane, gybing several times down a course bounded by high land to the south and the forbidden shipping lane to their left.

“It looks very much like a leg on which the Solitaire could be lost but is not likely to be won.” Observed weather guru Marcel van Triest who, pre-start, advises several top sailors on weather strategy.

All the way through the fleet the time differentials carried from Stage 1 are tiny. Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF), the opening Fastnet leg winner held just 95 seconds of advantage over Loïs Berrehar (Bretagne CMB Performance) with Alex Loison (Région Normandie) third at seven minutes and three seconds behind. But poised in fourth is double winner Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) at 10 minutes 20 seconds behind. The top 15 are spanned by 25 minutes, the top 20 by 35 minutes.

As the fleet sailed away from the Brittany coast at around 1500hrs local time today in 10-12kts of northeasterly breeze it was the French 2012 470 dinghy Olympian Pierre Leboucher (Guyot Environnment) leading the way with Armel Le Cléac’h lurking in second after making a much stronger start than he made on Stage 1 off the same Saint Brieuc start line. Le Cléac’h is looking hungry for success and has had no other distractions this year, training hard on his Figaro after finishing 10th last year.

"The weather is looking a little complicated for the climb north to Eddystone with variable winds to negotiate then a long, important leg to the finish which will be a real speed test.” Le Cléac’h, 44, said on the race dock, “ The first night is going to be interesting tactically you have to be good here to be well placed around Eddystone as I think after that it will be hard to get places back. Much of the ranking will be set by here. There will still be little gains to be made here and there, but it will be a speed race and the finish will not be very complicated. There will be wind all the way down there and it is great to be going to Dunkirk for the first time to show our boats.”

Britain’s Sam Goodchild (Leyton) is the best of the international entrants lay ninth on the overall standings and was fighting in the main group at less than a mile from the lead.

The opening 115 miles upwind passage to Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth is set to see the sailors encounter shifting light winds affected by an occluded front and a new high pressure ridge coming in from the west which will combine to swing the breeze through three significant shifts in direction during the night. What promises to be a hard fought upwind in a decent 14-16kts of northwesterly breeze will peter out as the wind drops completely in the small hours of the morning.

Round Start Point the fleet are likely to work the Devon coast where there will be more wind pressure before calling a layline for the A8 mark off Le Havre, a difficult but necessarily accurate call given the strong tides in the Channel. The wind is set to build to over 20 knots for an express ride to the line where the leaders are now expected late on Tuesday evening.

Tracker

Published in Figaro

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan is now in an even stronger position heading into the second leg of La Solitare du Figaro, after the protest committee’s strike against two higher-placing finishers from Thursday (3 September).

Both Tanguy Le Turquais and Frederic Duthil incurred five-minute penalties for failing to pass the cardinal mark, which brings Dolan up two places in the race standings from 12th to 10th, while British sailor Sam Goodchild (Leyton) rises to ninth.

Thursday’s original placing was already Dolan’s best result since the Figaro circuit switched to the faster and lighter Beneteau Figaro 3 last year, and he was only minutes shy of the top 10.

But the lift into the upper echelon will surely be an added boost to the 33-year-old Meath native as he readies his Smurfit Kappa yacht for the second stage — from the Baie de Saint Brieuc, via Plymouth, to Dunkirk — starting at 11am local time tomorrow, Sunday 6 September.

The course has been shortened due to forecast light winds for the upwind sail across the Channel, in order to ensure enough recovery days before the third stage next Saturday 12 September.

Commenting on his promotion up the standings, Dolan said: “To be honest it is nice to be up to 10th but in real terms it means nothing really as the fellow behind be is only a minute behind and then there are five guys within two minutes of me. So as ever it is a bit like a restart.

“You just have to take each leg as it comes. But for sure I’d rather be in 10th than 30th.”

I have worked hard for the result even if I maybe did not expect to be doing so well

Regarding the changed course for stage two, he said: “This will be a bit of a speed leg, there might be some tactics in the English Channel going across to Eddystone and then it is downwind speed. I think my downwind speed is good.”

Racing strategy aside, Dolan will also be paying heed to the logistics of life on board after losing water from his drinking containers in the past stage.

“I drank ten litres of water in the last 24 hours to get rehydrated. I won’t be making that mistake again but everything is good now. I feel great.”

As for the challenge that lies ahead? Dolan is confident but circumspect.

“I don’t think anything has been written yet,” he said. “There are a bunch of good guys behind me so it will be difficult and there will be a lot of changes yet.

“It should be a good leg with 20-25 kts on the downwind, plenty of wind going in to Dunkirk. There will be a few opportunities, I think positioning is the key in the Channel and then on the way down to Dunkirk.

“It is going to be interesting and for sure nice to be going into it in a decent position. I have worked hard for the result even if I maybe did not expect to be doing so well. But it gives me confidence but I’m keeping focused, not getting over-excited; there is such a long way to go.”

This story was updated on Saturday evening 5 September with additional details and comment.

Published in Tom Dolan

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan made the solid start he wanted to open the 51st La Solitaire Figaro, the annual French multi-stage solo offshore race when he brought Smurfit Kappa across the finish line on the Baie de Saint Brieuc in 12th place early this morning, only narrowly missing out a top ten finish.

Dolan, 33 who originates from Kells, County Meath, set off from the same bay in Northern Brittany on Sunday in the 35 strong fleet for the 642 nautical miles race around Fastnet Rock. He started with the main objective of giving himself a decent foundation result to build from into the next three stages.

At the end of what is one of the longest legs in terms of distance of the 50 years of La Solitaire the finish was extremely close. The top ten solo skippers finished within 20 minutes of the winner, French ace Xavier Macaire’s elapsed time of 3 days 17 hours and 17 minutes.

In 12th Dolan finished only two minutes and 28 seconds outside the top ten and in good shape for the second leg which starts on Sunday and takes the race to Dunkirk via Wolf Rock off the southwest tip of England.

It is the Irish racer’s best result since the circuit moved into the faster, lighter Beneteau Figaro 3 last year, an initiative which has seen the level of competition and interest rise significantly since Dolan’s career best La Solitaire score, 11th on Stage 3 in his rookie, debut year when racing the Figaro 2.

Tom Dolan at the Fastnet Rock on Tuesday Photo: Thomas NewmanTom Dolan at the Fastnet Rock on Tuesday Photo: Thomas Newman

There was an element of disappointment that he was not able to retain the three-position which he held on the approach to Fastnet on Tuesday evening. A small tactical error allowed three boats to pass inside him during what was a rounding made complicated by the traffic separation no-go areas. And on the fast reach back across the Celtic Sea, he dropped another few places. “They are saying the Fastnet has a special magnetism drawing me there fast on the way there and holding me back sailing away from it.” Quipped a weary-eyed Dolan on the dock in Saint Quay Portrieux after finishing at 06:40:02hrs French time this morning. “Someone joked ‘Well, Tom you were in a hurry to get back to Ireland and not so much of a hurry to get back here to France.”

He was second international sailor to finish, just one minute and 54 seconds behind Briton Sam Goodchild (Leyton).

Dolan concluded, “I lost a bit coming back across the Irish Sea. I had planned to stay to windward of the fleet. I made a stupid mistake with autopilot (left it on wind mode) when I went to sleep one time and ended up losing all that I had gained. I lost a bit at the rock too missing the group coming in from the east and lost eight or nine boats. But I am overall very happy, happy with the speed and it is good to have been up racing with the leaders it is more fun and gives you a bit of confidence.” He added, “On the first night when it was very complicated in the light winds I did OK because I ‘geeked’ the weather, I had really spent a long time doing my homework and from there I was OK.”

The second stage starts Sunday afternoon, 497 miles from Saint Brieuc to Dunkirk via the English coast.

Published in Tom Dolan

After three days of racing, County Meath's Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) was pipped on the line this morning by Britain's Sam Goodchild two seconds, the Irish skipper taking 12th in the first leg of the La Solitaire du Figaro. 

It means Goodchild takes the top international to lead the standings for the VIVI Trophy.  Up in third on the approach to the Fastnet Rock on Sunday, Dolan lost places on the approach but delivers a solid result on which to build some consistency in the next leg.

Dolan said “It was great to see Fastnet and it was nice to be up the front for a bit but I just messed up a bit coming across the Irish Sea. We had all sorts of conditions. The last two years my first legs have been a disaster. But 12th is OK and I am in touch with the leader. But at this stage, it is all about time, not so much about placings.”

Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) crossed the finish line on the Baie de Saint-Brieuc at 06:17:55hrs French time this Thursday morning to win the 642 nautical miles first stage of the 51st La Solitaire du Figaro. His elapsed time is 3 days 17hrs 55mins, finishing only 1 min 35 seconds ahead of second-placed Loïs Berrehar (Bretagne CMB Performance). Alexis Loison (Région Normandie) completed the podium at 7mins and 3 seconds after Macaire.

It is the first-ever stage win for 39-year-old Macaire on a Figaro solo racing career which spans ten years and which includes two overall podiums, second in 2013 and third in 2016.

He was denied a leg victory on the last leg in 2015. After finishing first across the line into Dieppe he was judged to have sailed inside a forbidden zone some 18 miles from the finish and was penalised an hour by the jury.

Macaire is based out of Les Sables d’Olonne and races with the Team Vendée Formation. He took the lead of the 35 boat Figaro Beneteau fleet of solo racers during a very challenging first night in very light and unstable winds and was never passed.

On the quick spinnaker return from the Fastnet lighthouse, the midpoint of the stage which was rounded on Tuesday evening, Macaire retained almost metronomic consistency when under constant pressure from the chasing pack he held his ground to secure the narrowest of victories this morning.

The final miles into the finish line of Saint-Quay-Portrieux had all the intensity of an inshore championship finale, Macaire covered young pretender Loïs Berrehar, 27, through a dogged match race in a lightening breeze but the older sailor prevailed by just one minute and 35 seconds.

Macaire said on the dock in Saint-Quay-Portrieux, " What a relief! The finish was quite tense, because the more we approached the line, the more the wind eased, I saw everyone getting closer and closer, I was really scared of getting caught and losing this victory just on the line. I've been waiting for it for a long time, for this stage victory, I visualised the others with the champagne and was wondering if I will ever make it after winning before and being downgraded on jury, this time it’s for me, for real! "

On what is his first La Solitaire stage in the new Figaro Beneteau 3 design introduced last year Britain’s Sam Goodchild finished in 11th place, after lying eighth for much of the second half of the leg he lost three places in the final miles to the line, but is pleased with his result, finishing within 20 minutes of the winner who heads a very tightly packed Top 12.

Goodchild reported “I made a few mistakes which cost me time here and there which I can do better next time, but on the whole, I think I sailed pretty well. It was not very easy weather conditions but I just think if I did some things a bit tidier and easier but that is my first Figaro back in six years, my first in the Figaro 3 and so these are not big surprises to me. I am within 20 minutes at the end of the leg so that is not too bad. It is funny to race so hard for days and earn 10 miles of advance on people and then finish within minutes of them but that is the Figaro. I lost these silly places and times. During the race, I had some seaweed around the keel which everyone gets but I faffed around not sailing properly, I should have got rid of it, stopped the boat and gone backwards and got on with it. And I was not so clear on the weather and my choices and spent too long zigging and zagging around. I did not fully manage the weather properly.”

As top international to lead the standings for the VIVI Trophy, he pipped Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) on the line by two seconds.

On his return to La Solitaire for the first time for four years, Australia/Britain’s Jack Bouttell (Gillot Fromagerie) was 25thafter being up to 19th. Having been 37 miles behind the leader on Tuesday in 31st place morning Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) made a decent recovery in terms of time behind the leader. As Macaire crossed Roberts was 3.7 miles behind to finish 28th with a deficit of 1 hour 1 minute behind the winner. He finished just ahead of compatriot Phil Sharp (OceansLab) who was 29th.

Among those who recovered best was Pierre Quiroga (Skipper Macif 2019) who marched through the fleet to seventh after rounding Fastnet 21st, nearly 10 miles behind Macaire at the turn for home.

Finish order, before jury, of the first stage of La Solitaire du Figaro (642 miles) : All times French local.

1. Xavier MACAIRE (Groupe SNEF), finished at 6h17’55 after 3 days 17 hours17 minutes and 55 seconds
2. Loïs BERREHAR (Bretagne CMB Performance), finished at 6h19’30 after3 days17 hours19 minutes and 30 seconds (at 1’35’’ from first )
3. Alexis LOISON (Région Normandie), finished at 6h24’58’’ after 3 days17 hours 24 minutes and 58 seconds (at 7’03’’ from first )
4. Armel LE CLÉAC’H (Banque Populaire), finished at 6h28’15 after 3 days 17 hours 28 minutes and 15 seconds (at 10’20’’ from first )
5. Fabien DELAHAYE (Laboratoires Gilbert), finished at 6h30’50’‘ (at 12’55’’ from first
6. Tom LAPERCHE (Bretagne CMB Espoir), finished at 6h31’26’‘ (at 13’ 31"from first )
7. Pierre QUIROGA (Skipper Macif 2019), finished at 6h33’15’‘ (at 15’20” from first )
8. Tanguy LE TURQUAIS (Groupe Quéguiner - Innoveo), finished at 6h36’48’‘ (at 18’53"from first)
9. Corentin DOUGUAND(NF Habitat), finished at 6h37’04” (at19’09” from first )
10.Fred DUTHIL (Technique Voile / CabinandBourhis Generali), finished at 6h37’36” (at19’41” from first )
11. Sam GOODCHILD (Leyton), finished at 6h38’08’‘ (at 20’13” from first ) (1st for Vivi Trophy)
12. Tom DOLAN (Smurfit Kappa), finished at 6h40’02’‘ (at 22’7” from first )
13. Eric PÉRON (French Touch), finished at 6:41:20 (at23’25” from first )
14. Yann ELIÈS (Quéguiner Matériaux - Leucémie Espoir), finished at 6:41:46 (at23’51” from first)
15. Pierre LEBOUCHER (Guyot Environnement), finished at 6:43:19 (at25’24’’ from first )
16. Martin LE PAPE (Fondation Stargardt), finished at 06:45:15
17. Achille NEBOUT (Be Green Ocean), finished at 06:46:12
18. Adrien HARDY (Ocean Attitude), finished at 06:46:35
19. Gildas MAHE (Breizh Cola), finished at 06:48:48
20. Anthony MARCHAND (Groupe Royer - Secours Populaire), finished at 06:53:44
21. Nils PALMIERI (TeamWork), finished at 06:55:36
22. Benoit MARIETTE (Génération Senioriales), finished at 06:56:06
23. Violette DORANGE (Devenir), arrivée à 06:59:37
24. Elodie BONAFOUS (Bretagne CMB Oceane), arrivée à 07:01:20
25. Jack BOUTTELL (Fromagerie Gillot), finished at 07:08:49
26. Alberto BONA (Sebago), finished at 07:09:05
27. Marc MALLARAND(CER Occitanie), finished at 07:14:16
28. Alan ROBERTS (Seacat Services), finished at 07:14:17
29. Phil SHARP(OceansLab), finished at 07:18:07
30. Kevin BLOCH (Team Vendee Formation), finished at 07:27:33
31. Erwan LE DRAOULEC (Skipper MACIF 2020), finished at 07:29:4032. Robin FOLLIN (Ville de Sainte-Maxime), finished at 07:37:58
33. Robin Marais (Ma chance Moi aussi), finished at 07:43:35

Published in Tom Dolan

Passing the iconic rock in his home waters in seventh place casts out some of the ghosts of La Solitaires past for Tom Dolan. The Irish sailor was third for most of the passage across the Celtic Sea but dropped places being too high on the line approaching Fastnet letting three boats slide inside him.

That said the 33-year-old sailor from Kells, County Meath has shown again that head to head he can match speeds with the best of the fleet sprinting across the Celtic Sea in moderate 12-15kts southwesterly winds. Until the corner at Fastnet, he lived up to his billing in France, as the ‘Irlandais Volant’ (Flying Irishman).

In 2018 when the opening leg of the race was heading to the Baie de Saint Brieuc, Dolan had to motor there from Le Havre, forced out of the leg by a damaged spreader root. Dolan was up to second, 1.1 mile behind the leader Macaire during this afternoon, but soon became another prey for the ‘Jackal’ as two times, overall winner, Armel Le Cléac’h Le Cléac’h is known.

French skipper Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) led the 35 strong fleet round the Fastnet Rock at 1830hrs local time Ireland this Tuesday evening. The 39 year old skipper from the Team Vendée Formation, who has never won a stage, has been in the lead since very early yesterday morning. He passed the half way point of Stage 1 of the 51st La Solitaire du Figaro in a modest ten to 11 knot southwesterly breeze with a very slender lead.

Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) turned round the iconic rocky lighthouse within clear sigh of rival Macaire, half a mile behind, it marked the conclusion of a spectacular recovery, rising to chase the leader’s stern at the turn, in the space of 24 hours coming back from 22nd and 20 miles behind the leader

Le Cléac’h – who takes weather strategy advice from Dutch ace Marcel Van Triest - as did last year’s leg and overall winner Yoann Richomme - clawed back fully 10 miles and nine places as he took a more northerly route at the Scillies TSS, cutting inside the fleet on the corner entering the Celtic Sea.

The Vendée Globe winner’s track gained him more wind pressure and speed and, as he passed the rock which he first encountered on a Figaro race in 2001, Le Cléac’h is back in the game in a very strong position to challenge for the fifth stage win on his career.

As is so often the case the passage into and out of the Fastnet brings all the leading contenders within close sight of each other, the top ten sailors all within two miles of leader Macaire. The passage, leaving the mark to port proved a very tight turn as the fleet skirted the very edge of the forbidden traffic separation zone to their east and there were opportunities to gain and lost places.

Passing the iconic rock in his home waters in seventh place casts out some of the ghosts of La Solitaires past for Tom Dolan. The Irish sailor was third for most of the passage across the Celtic Sea but dropped places being too high on the line approaching Fastnet letting three boats slide inside him.

That said the 33 year old sailor from Kells, County Meath has shown again that head to head he can match speeds with the best of the fleet sprinting across the Celtic Sea in moderate 12-15kts southwesterly winds. Until the corner at Fastnet he lived up to his billing in France, as the ‘Irlandais Volant’ (Flying Irishman).

In 2018 when the opening leg of the race was heading to the Baie de Saint Brieuc, Dolan had to motor there from Le Havre, forced out of the leg by a damaged spreader root. Dolan was up to second, 1.1 mile behind the leader Macaire during this afternoon, but soon became another prey for the ‘Jackal’ as Le Cléac’h has been known as.

For all the 35 skippers now the big challenge is managing themselves on a fast reach back to Saint Quay Portrieux where they left Sunday afternoon. The quick reaching will require long hours at the helm to maximise speed whilst still considering a light winds finish is forecast where the fleet is expected to compress significantly in the final miles to the line.

Race veteran Gildas Morvan, with 22 La Solitaires to his credit, observed in his lunchtime analysis today: “In the standings, Xavier Macaire and Corentin Douguet are leading the way, their trajectories are exemplary, they have sailed well right from the start, they are the ones who set the pace, they are quite impressive, these old guys still have it! The young guns of Crédit Mutuel Bretagne (Tom Laperche and Loïs Berrehar) are not very far behind, they keep up the pressure, we will see who will be the strongest on the return leg, because we will have to let go and push hard. Even on a pure speed drag race there are still options.”

Britain’s Sam Goodchild (Leyton) is still very much in the leading group in 13th place at 2.5 miles behind Macaire. Goodchild lost places on the final approach to the turn but gained back distance on the leader as the fleet compacted. His compatriot and long time Class 40 rival Phil Sharp (OceansLab) is 16th. Sharp is alongside Anthony Marchand (Groupe Royer-Secours Populaire) who won the first stage into Saint Quay in 2018. But this duo have a three miles gap to make up to the next boat.

On his first La Solitaire since 2015 when he was tenth overall Jack Bouttell (Gillot Fromagerie) is in 22nd place and reported “Physically I am pretty good I would say, the first night was pretty tough with the light winds zone, obviously I got through it better than I thought I did, but to be 17 miles behind first place is quite a long way back and disappointing. I am hoping to catch up some miles in the next few days. I think the strategy I had was opposite to what happened I did no really understand what went on, I was not in the right place and I struggled a bit with upwind speed. I think with that and a combination of things I did not end up in the best place. The wind was meant to drop from the front of the fleet and not the back and in the end the further back you were the worse you were. The rich got richer. I t should be good now with some faster sailing in the next few hours, to Fastnet, The breeze is a bit more left than forecast and so I hope it goes right again. I don’t really know where the leading group are. I think the we are quite lined up now. The front I don’t know where they are.”

Tracking

Published in Tom Dolan

Ireland's solo sailor Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) is in third position as the 35-boat La Solitaire du Figaro race to the Fastnet Rock off the County Cork. 

Dolan left the Baie de Saint Brieuc start line on Sunday with one avowed intention to exorcise the ghosts of the two 'disastrous' first legs which ruined both of his first two La Solitaire du Figaro.

In 2018 he was forced back to Le Havre when a spreader root failed less than one hour after the start - he did not even make it to the first buoy - while last year he was one of many who went west on the beat to Fastnet and he finished many hours after the winners.

Lying third the 33-year-old from County Meath who has based himself in Concarneau for 11 years and has finished fourth in the MiniTransat is making a decent fist of the first part of this stage, best of the eight international, non-French sailors, just 1.2 miles behind Macaire and seemingly well established within this main peloton.

The current Figaro leaderboard showing Ireland's Tom Dolan lying thirdThe current Figaro leaderboard showing Ireland's Tom Dolan lying third

After the first night at sea which proved painfully slow and frustrating at times, the leaders on the 642 nautical miles Stage 1 of La Solitaire du Figaro had got their noses into the first of a forecasted new southerly breeze and by mid-afternoon this Monday, some 27 hours after the start, the pacemakers were intermittent periods of promising speeds, back up to 7knots.

French skipper Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) has led the 35 solo skippers since 0530hrs this morning, a middle track close to the most direct, shortest course proving most profitable. The 39- year-old from the Team Vendee Formation training group already has two overall podiums to his credit, second in 2013 and third in 2015, but in nine previous challenges has not yet won a stage.

Leading the fleet out of The Channel approaches this afternoon he had stretched from 0.3 to 0.7 nautical miles ahead of Corentin Douguet (NF Habitat) over a 90 minute period. The fleet are contemplating the passage of the Scillies and tonight and choose their passage around the forbidden zones marked by the Traffic Separation Schemes there.

Into the second night, the breeze was expected to build to present a rich-get-richer scenario for those in the vanguard of the fleet, gennaker reaching in 13-16kts of breeze towards the Fastnet, which is just under 200 miles from Macaire this afternoon.

Tracking

Published in Tom Dolan
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boot Düsseldorf, the International Boat Show

With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. Around 2,000 exhibitors present their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

boot Düsseldorf FAQs

boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair. Seventeen exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology.

The Fairground Düsseldorf. This massive Dusseldorf Exhibition Centre is strategically located between the River Rhine and the airport. It's about 20 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the city centre.

250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair.

The 2018 show was the golden jubilee of the show, so 2021 will be the 51st show.

Every year in January. In 2021 it will be 23-31 January.

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH Messeplatz 40474 Düsseldorf Tel: +49 211 4560-01 Fax: +49 211 4560-668

The Irish marine trade has witnessed increasing numbers of Irish attendees at boot over the last few years as the 17-Hall show becomes more and more dominant in the European market and direct flights from Dublin offer the possibility of day trips to the river Rhine venue.

Boats & Yachts Engines, Engine parts Yacht Equipment Watersports Services Canoes, Kayaks, Rowing Waterski, Wakeboard, Kneeboard & Skimboard Jetski + Equipment & Services Diving, Surfing, Windsurfing, Kite Surfing & SUP Angling Maritime Art & Crafts Marinas & Watersports Infrastructure Beach Resorts Organisations, Authorities & Clubs

Over 1000 boats are on display.

©Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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