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Displaying items by tag: Tom Dolan

Ireland’s solo racer Tom Dolan gave his hopes for this year’s La Solitaire du Figaro solo offshore race a significant boost when he and French co-skipper François Jambou finished second overall on Smurfit Kappa in the Figaro duo class of the 428 nautical miles Drheam Cup yesterday.

For most of the race, the Irish/French duo enjoyed a spirited match race against the eventual category winners, French 2012 Olympian Pierre Leboucher sailing with Benoit Mariette, and finished less than five minutes behind the class victors.

Dolan and Jambou were eighth across the finish line overall in the Figaro class which was won outright by Briton Sam Goodchild.

Dolan was pleased with the Smurfit Kappa duo’s race and the result, atoning for a disappointing light wind Maitre-CoQ solo offshore race two weeks ago when he finished mid-fleet.

“I am pretty happy. We sailed well. We went the right way all of the time and stuck to the roadbook, our strategy, and that paid off. We were quick enough all the time and that augers well for the future. I have sailed with François eight or ten times now and so we are a good team.” Smiled Dolan at the finish in La Trinite.

The course took the fleet from Sunday’s start off Cherbourg-Cotentin north across the Channel, turning west to Wolf Rock then south to La Trinite.

“I am especially pleased because the race was a complete test starting out in light winds, with some stronger spells with some upwind and downwind but lots of reaching when you have to be fast. We started badly – again – but worked our way up through the fleet progressively and then held our own. We had a little bit of an error during the second night when we were working to keep a boat in check which we thought was Leboucher but the lights were those of a different boat.” Dolan recalled, “But the key takeaway from this is that the course was like a leg of the Solitaire and we did well enough, certainly I am a bit more confident than after the Maitre-CoQ.”

"Need to check for damage after hitting an unidentified object during the race"

“The game was played on the first night really when the wind came from the east towards the end of the crossing of the Channel and we were to the right of the fleet and so that was good and paid off. Then we stuck to the strategy, to the roadbook I had prepared, and raced the boats around us. That is a good lesson in itself.”

Racing with the Mini Transat winner Jambou, the duo elected to put in some time now to enhance their prospects for next year’s two handed Transat AG2R, Transatlantic. And Dolan is preparing to diversify his programme towards selection for Ireland for the 2024 Olympics’ mixed offshore racing. The race also represent a gilt edged opportunity to run what will be part of this summer’s La Solitaire course.

On returning to base today (Wednesday) Dolan will have the Figaro Beneteau Smurfit lifted out of the water to check for damage after hitting an unidentified object during the race.

“It is a little bit of a worry because in terms of repairs and preparation I am just working myself at the moment with no help. But there is no sign of damage to the inside skin of the boat so I am hoping it will be OK.” Dolan concluded.

Published in Figaro

Tom Dolan of Meath and longtime colleague Francois Jamboux of Concarneau revived the spark of previous joint successes with a scorcher of a race with Smurfit Kappa in the 400-mile Drheam Cup from Cherbourg to La Trinite sur Mer via the south coast of England. But though they were showing as leaders in class for frequent periods in the Figaro 3 Duo division, in the end late this afternoon at the finish line they were 5 minutes and 40 seconds adrift on Pierre Leboucher in Guyot Environnement, after a ding-dong battle between the two boats over many miles.

Ireland’s other entry, Kenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee of Dun Laoghaire in RL Sailing, have a steep learning curve, as they were 42 miles astern as the Dolan-Jamboux team finished. But in fact it has been quite a learning curve for everyone, as the hundred strong fleet included many boats which would normally be a force to be reckoned with in open RORC and UNCL racing. Yet up against the top Figaro 3 skippers in prime fighting trm, they found themselves being out-classed and left behind on the water, with a sensational performance being put in by UK sailor Sam Goodchild of Falmouth.

Now a hardened veteran of the Figaro circuit, Goodchild put in a virtuoso showing in his Figaro 3 despite choosing the solo option. When he wasn’t leading on the water he was very near it, and he stayed ahead with some very much bigger more fully-crewed boats behind him, indisputably taking line honours over the entire fleet - solo, duo and fully-crewed - this afternoon, all of a cool 45 minutes ahead of the next boat, Bretagne CMB Espoir, which is also a solo–sailed Figaro 3.

Further comment is superfluous. This afternoon is when the top Figaro solo sailors showed the international offshore racing community what Senior Hurling afloat is all about.

Published in Figaro
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County Meath Solo sailor Tom Dolan is dicing for the lead this morning in the closing stages of the double-handed Drheam Cup as the fleet close in on the La Trinite sur Mer finish line. See tracker below.

A determined Dolan – who is sailing with France's Francois Jamnbou – is making good on his pre-race commitment to make amends for a mid-fleet performance in last month's Solo Maitre Coq season debut.

This morning Dolan and Jambou are heading south with under 70 miles to go in the 400-miler that started on Sunday.

The French-Irish pair, competing in the Figaro Duo class, are just .5 mile behind leader Guy Environment (Pierre Leboucher) in the seven-boat Figaro duo class.

As well as being second in class, Dolan's Smurfit Kappa - Concarneau Entreprendre Ireland campaign is also lying in the top ten of the 100-boat Drheam Cup overall.

Tom Dolan is in contention for Drheam Cup class honous later todayTom Dolan is in contention for Drheam Cup class honours later today

Before the start, Dolan gave an insight as to how he was going to sail the race: Look I did not do well on the Maitre CoQ the last race and that was disappointing so I am really looking forward to putting that behind me and sailing with Francois. We have been good mates for many years together and started a little business teaching and coaching people on the Mini, so we know each other well.” Dolan emphasizes, “Our skills are complementary, we work well together. He has shown he can win races and so it will be good to have some fresh ideas and to be able to support each other. A second opinion is what you lack racing solo and so it will be nice to have that this time.”

Dolan added, “Francois is very calm, and very French in the way he approaches his sailing. That is to say different to Anglo Saxon, he is quiet and intuitive and able to hold the rhythm of the race. I have tended to be too up and down recently and so I have worked on that. There is a good level of trust between us, knowing when each other are tired and taking over at the right time to keep the performance up.”

Drheam Cup 2020 leaderboard showing Ireland's Tom Dolan in second overallDrheam Cup 2020 leaderboard

Meanwhile, Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee, in their first outing in the Figaro 3 having been neck and neck with Dolan at one point are lying fifth in class, some forty miles astern of the leaders.

Both Rumball and Dolan are working up for September's season climax, the La Solitaire du Figaro.

See race tracker below. Select 'LA Drheam Cup 400' and then Group: 'Figaro Duo' to see the latest from the racecourse.

Published in Figaro

Ireland's 'Figaro Duo' teams are racing in the 400-mile Drheam Cup and after a 1 pm start this afternoon are neck and neck in the seven-boat Figaro division.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee are making their double-handed debut for Ireland and joining them on the Figaro Beneteau 3 fleet start line are County Meath and French combination Tom Dolan and Mini Transat Winner François Jambou.

As Afloat reported previously, both Rumball and Dolan are looking for a performance boost after both Irish solo sailors posted mixed results in the Solo Maitre Coq last month.

The race represents the start of the Irish campaigns for double-handed keelboat selection for Paris 2024.

The course started from Cherbourg Cotentin and finishes in Lorient and first takes the fleet across the Channel to the West Shambles mark off Weymouth, westwards along the English coast to Wolf Rock off Land’s End and then back across the entrance to the Channel to finish at Lorient, some time on Tuesday.

The 400-mile race mirrors some of what is likely to be part of September’s pinnacle event the La Solitaire du Figaro offshore in which Rumball and Dolan have their sights on.

It is the first time the Figaro Beneteau 3 fleet has been invited to race in this 100-plus boat event which has become a multi-class French offshore Grand Prix, set to feature the Ultime and IMOCA fleets too.

Published in Figaro

Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee make their double-handed debut for Ireland at the Drheam Cup on Sunday and joining them on the Figaro Beneteau 3 fleet start line are County Meath and French combination Tom Dolan and Mini Transat Winner François Jambou in what is the first major multi-class race on the French coast this season.

The 400-mile race mirrors some of what is likely to be part of September’s pinnacle event the La Solitaire du Figaro offshore in which Rumball and Dolan have their sights on.

Both Rumball and Dolan will be looking for a performance boost after both Irish solo sailors posted mixed results in the Solo Maitre Coq last month.

It will be the first time the Figaro Beneteau 3 fleet has been invited to race in this 100-plus boat event which has become a multi-class French offshore Grand Prix, set to feature the Ultime and IMOCA fleets too.

Tom Dolan Tom Dolan sailing with Mini Transat Winner François Jambou

The course starts from Cherbourg Cotentin and finishes in Lorient and first takes the fleet across the Channel to the West Shambles mark off Weymouth, westwards along the English coast to Wolf Rock off Land’s End and then back across the entrance to the Channel to finish at Lorient.

"We’ve had a bit of time off now with the boat in the shed getting antifouled and we had a chance to get the rig out ahead of the Drheam Cup. This we will do doublehanded, in line with the main aim of the programme" says Rumball who gives a nod to their Paris 2024 Olympic bid.

Dolan admits he did not do well on the Maitre CoQ.  "That was disappointing so I am really looking forward to putting that behind me and sailing with Francois. We have been good mates for many years together and started a little business teaching and coaching people on the Mini, so we know each other well.” Dolan emphasises, “Our skills are complementary, we work well together. He has shown he can win races and so it will be good to have some fresh ideas and to be able to support each other. A second opinion is what you lack racing solo and so it will be nice to have that this time.”

The Drheam 2020 programme

  • Thursday 16 July: Arrival of boats in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
  • Friday 17 and Saturday 18 July: Technical and safety checks
  • Sunday 19 July: DRHEAM-CUP start
  • From Tuesday 21 July: arrival of boats in La Trinité-sur-Mer
Published in Figaro

Early mistakes in very light and very fluky winds cost Tom Dolan dearly, leaving the Irish solo racer with no real chances to recover and make the solid opening he had wanted in the 340 nautical miles Solo Maître CoQ which finished on Saturday in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

Dolan, sailing Smurfit Kappa, recovered a couple of hard-earned places in the latter stages of what was the first solo race of the 2020 season for the Figaro Bénéteau 3 fleet, to place 22nd.

He admits that once he had lost touch with the lead peloton on the mainly straight lines, reaching course there were not enough tactical opportunities to stage any kind of meaningful comeback.

The course off the Vendée took the fleet northwards in light winds from Les Sables d’Olonne to round the Ile de Yeu then a long southwards leg to the Ile de Re off La Rochelle. Dolan missed out on the first new breeze after a drifting start and then his losses were compounded by being on the wrong side of the next two rotations in wind direction.

“It is a disappointing way to start the season especially when we have waited so long to get racing. I know where I made the early mistakes and what is frustrating is that I didn’t really position myself early on to be able to follow my pre-race strategy which was to stay offshore where the new breeze was coming in from. I had it written everywhere ‘stay to the west’ but just could not get there in the breeze I had. Once I found myself in the east, to leeward you could not really climb back.” Dolan recalled Sunday after a decent night’s sleep. “Then it was all reaching.”

“ I sailed the boat well. I was fast enough and my manoeuvres were good and I take confidence in those fundamentals, but as ever I need to be with the lead group early on to really be able to sail the fleet rather than trying to catch up.” Dolan concludes.

Published in Figaro
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Lunchtime today effectively sees the first Irish battle on the long road to the Paris Olympic Games 2024 as two embryonic campaigns go head to head in the offshore keelboat discipline, in the French season opener, the Solo Maître CoQ.

Both Kenny Rumball and Tom Dolan are embarking on a journey for the single Olympic place in the new mixed offshore keelboat class that will ultimately see them sail double-handed with a female teammate but for now racing this season is on a solo basis, starting today.

Racing over a varied 340-mile course the rival Irish will compete against a high-quality field of competitors, it is an ideal warmup for the main objective of the season: the Solitaire du Figaro from 25 August-20 September.

"We're docked up in Les Sabes D'Olonne, the course is plotted, it's all happening...." declared the rookie Rumball on social media who has completed just a month's training in his new boat on Dublin Bay in June, as Afloat reported here.

The race starts and finishes in the legendary French port of Les Sables d'Olonne and takes the 30 solo skippers up and down the French Atlantic coast in what promise to be light and fickle breezes.

Last year's event comprised two shorter races and one long offshore but this year the race, which has been rescheduled from its original mid-March date, spans the coastline between Belle Ile in the north, level with Nantes, and at the southernmost extremity, the Ile de Ré off La Rochelle of what looks set to be a mainly reaching course.

County Meath solo racer Tom Dolan will also get his 2020 racing season underway.

"It has been a year since I have raced solo but even though I, like everyone else in this sport, have not been able to train on the water much I feel well prepared and itching to go. I spent time during lockdown reading and re-reading the key weather texts and doing on-line courses. I have worked hard on the mental side of my approach as well as doing all I could to bolster my obvious weakness, starting." Dolan explains, "So I feel ready to go. I do believe I have a better, more mature outlook which i hope will serve me well in this second season in the Figaro 3."

At 1300hrs local time Thursday racing starts offshore of the famous town which hosts the Vendée Globe solo round the world race and it should finish Saturday morning or early afternoon.

"It looks like it will be light, tactical sea breezes a lot of the time with some very light spells. To be honest, right now the start time looks very, very light. But I think it will be essential to get away with the first pack and not be left behind if you are to have a good chance."

Dolan is looking for a good race to kick off the truncated season but will not over-pressurise himself. The big goal is to be competitive for September's La Solitaire du Figaro. In essence, this course is very much a Solitaire dress rehearsal in terms of length and duration but the pinnacle event this year is mainly in the Channel, finishing into Saint Nazaire at the entrance to the Loire estuary.

"I have worked on my decision making processes and most particularly minimising how a small mistake can lead to a downwards spiral, making more mistakes because you increase your risks and make rash decisions to try and make your losses back. Far better to stay patient and maintain a solid work rate and wait for others to make mistakes. This game proves the sailors who make the fewest mistakes win," Dolan concludes.

Dolan says he is keen to represent his home nation in the mixed offshore discipline at the 2024 Olympics and is keeping an eye on what other sailors from Ireland and from different countries are doing.

Published in Figaro

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 Solo Sailing

With the gradual easing of the French lockdown and offshore racing sailors now having returned to training, the future is again looking brighter for Irish solo racer Tom Dolan.

Since relaunching at the beginning of June the Brittany based racer, who originates from Kells, County Meath, has been accumulating hours on his Figaro Beneteau Smurfit Kappa and is now making final preparations for what will be the first race of the season, next week’s Solo Maitre Coq which starts and finishes in Les Sables d’Olonne.

“It will be nearly a year since I have raced solo, so yes there is a wee bit of rustiness, but it comes back quickly. It is like riding a bike in some ways, you don’t lose it, but you’re looking for the finesse to return, making manoeuvres smooth and instinctive, especially looking towards working on a dark night when you can’t afford mistakes.” Dolan asserts, “But for sure I can’t wait to be back out racing. It has been much too long.”

Tuesday day and overnight this week, Dolan is making a 24 hour offshore training sortie with the Lorient Grand Large group of which he has been a long time member. Until now he has just had four or five days training locally himself as well as some important corporate sailing with guests from Concarneau who were due to support him and co-skipper François Jambou with whom he was due to race the AG2R Transatlantic in April which was postponed until 2021. The duo also took key workers who were on the front line during the worst of the Covid-19 crisis out for a sail.

“Immediately the objective is to have the boat ready to pass the safety and measurement checks. There are still some water ingress issues which other boats still also have. The builders are working on it but it is not an ideal situation as we approach the second season with these boats.” Dolan comments.

With doubt surrounding the running of this year’s La Solitaire du Figaro for many months, the news that it will go ahead in September is a considerable relief for Dolan and all of the Figaro sailors.

“For a while, it was looking pretty grim, as if there might not be any racing at all this season. To their credit, Smurfit Kappa have been very supportive. They have been stretched through the crisis supplying packaging for essential supplies. They completely understood the situation.” Dolan concludes.

The Solo Maitre Coq race starts Thursday next week and should finish Saturday.

Published in Figaro
Tagged under

In the wake of the two-month lockdown from which it emerged on May 11th, France has reopened the coast and allowed all types of marine activities along the Atlantic. This is, of course, good news for Tom Dolan. The skipper of Smurfit Kappa, who kept busy during the two-month lockdown period, will launch his boat this week to get back training on the water. 

"It's going to feel good to be back at sea after two long months, even if I feel a bit like it was non-stop. In mid-March, I made a long list of everything I wanted to achieve and I still haven’t reached the end yet!" says the Irish sailor, who managed to keep up a certain rhythm in his overall organisation.

“I tried just to keep to a normal schedule, getting up, getting dressed, working, and then switching off at the weekend and evening, except all that within 1km of the flat. People suggested that it must have been like being isolated at sea but I don’t see the connection much because we are doing what we love and by our own choice, I think I’ll pinch the quote of the great single-handed sailor Eric Tabarly who once said “Sailing means accepting the restrictions that you have chosen. It is a privilege. Most people are subjected to the obligations that life has imposed on them.” The only real comparison that I see between the two is our mindset as we come out of lockdown. The difficulty and the time it has taken to readapt to being around people reminds me a lot of coming back to land after weeks alone at sea.

A busy lockdown for Tom Dolan

"A good chunk of the weeks were made up of theory courses organised by our training centre in Lorient, all conducted by videoconference. During these sessions, we prepared in detail each leg of the upcoming Solitaire du Figaro, the dangers, important points of passage as well as local weather and tidal effects. Another week we worked on performance analysis and then I dissected the numerous traces of last season's races in order to work on the polar charts (graphical representations, expressing the speed of a boat as a function of the wind direction and strength) then the Sailects (creation and display of the places where the sails are used). I am starting to become a real geek (laughs)! I've also managed to get myself a bit more up to speed on all the paperwork involved in running a small business, which has never been my strong point. And then at the same time, I got to do a lot of catch up on physical preparation, doing a lot of muscle-building sessions and running around the house. I even lost a bit of weight, which is pretty good", explains Tom, who has set his sights once again on the famous Solitaire du Figaro, the only race on the class calendar which should remain in the running this season, if all the health and safety indicators stay in the green.

The Solaire du Figaro maintained for the time being, Plan B on the cards

"We will know on 15th June whether the race is to take place or not, and whether it will be on the scheduled dates (from 30th August to 20th September) or slightly later in September," explains the skipper of Smurfit Kappa, who keeps a plan B in the corner of his head in case the current pandemic turns the programme upside down once again.. "I have a great Plan B in mind, but it is top secret for now! So while waiting to find out more, I'm going to continue to prepare my boat in Concarneau. At the same time, we hope to organise sailing days with the teams from Smurfit Kappa as well as the different companies around Concarneau who had signed up to support us for the Transat AG2R La Mondiale and some of whom continue to accompany us. We will also take out the local council workers who kept working and supported the local community during the lockdown, such as the bin men, bus drivers and people from the town hall. We hope it will be a way we can thank them." concludes Dolan.

Published in Solo Sailing
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Fastnet Yacht Race 

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge. For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between. The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Plymouth.
  • The lighthouse first shone its light on New Year’s Day in 1854
    Fastnet Rock originally had six keepers (now unmanned), with four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Each man did four weeks on, two weeks off

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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