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Irish Solo Sailor Tom Dolan to Take on Atlantic Again in Gruelling Transat AG2R La Mondiale  

19th April 2018
The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see Dolan (left) race 3,800 miles from Concarneau in Brittany, France, to St Barts in the West Indies alongside teammate and former Mini 6.50 rival Tanguy Bouroullec. The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see Dolan (left) race 3,800 miles from Concarneau in Brittany, France, to St Barts in the West Indies alongside teammate and former Mini 6.50 rival Tanguy Bouroullec. Photo: Facebook/Ouest France

Irish ocean racer Tom Dolan is to face the might of the Atlantic for the second time in less than six months as he takes to the start line of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale. 

Dolan, 30, will face his first major test in the ultra-competitive Figaro Bénéteau class since stepping up from the Mini 6.50 fleet at the start of 2018.

The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see Dolan race 3,800 miles from Concarneau in Brittany, France, to St Barts in the West Indies alongside teammate and former Mini 6.50 rival Tanguy Bouroullec.

The race comes just months after Dolan raced solo across the Atlantic in the 2017 Mini Transat in which he placed sixth overall in a fleet of 56.

Earlier this year Dolan teamed up with eco-friendly packaging giant Smurfit Kappa to launch his bid for the 2018 Figaro season and jointly promote a message of sustainability and innovation.

The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will be Dolan’s second outing in Smurfit Kappa after he and Bouroullec raced in the Solo Concarneau 250 earlier this month 

“In the Solo Concarneau 250 were happy speed-wise - we were fast upwind and downwind but unfortunately on a few occasions we were going quickly in the wrong direction,” said Dolan, from Kells in County Meath.

“It was a hard race but good for our first one. Now we need to step up for the Transat. It actually feels like I’m still in Transat mode because I only crossed the finish line of the Mini Transat a few months ago.

“The difference is that with this one is there’s no stopover – if we break something there’s there’s no time to stop. The level of the fleet is so high that if you take your foot off the gas for just a few minutes it’s very hard to get that back.”

Starting on Sunday April 22, the Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see 40 of the world’s best ocean racers converge in their two-person teams to fight it out for the coveted title.

Among the fleet are 2016 Figaro La Solitaire winner Yann Richomme and reigning serie division Mini Transat champion Erwan La Draoulec as well as Vendee Globe racers Morgan Lagraviere and Thomas Ruyant.

“It’s a big step up into the big league for me,” said Dolan, who the French refer to as L’Irlandais Volant – the Flying Irishman. “With the Mini I was on my own on my little scooter but now we’re on a big boat with all the big boys’ toys. It’s pretty overwhelming but I’m excited for the challenge.”

The race starts at 1300 local time (1100 UTC) and can be followed on the tracker here

Published in Figaro
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The Solitaire du Figaro, was originally called the course de l’Aurore until 1980, was created in 1970 by Jean-Louis Guillemard and Jean-Michel Barrault.

Half a decade later, the race has created some of France's top offshore sailors, and it celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new boat equipped with foils and almost 50 skippers Including novices, aficionados and six former winners.

The solo multi-stage offshore sailing race is one of the most cherished races in French sailing and one that has had Irish interest stretching back over 20 years due to the number of Irish stopovers, usually the only foreign leg of the French race.

The race has previously called to Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

In 2013 Royal Cork's David Kenefick raised the bar by becoming a top rookie sailor in the race

In 2018, for the first time Ireland will have two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who join the rookie ranks and keep the Irish tricolour flying high in France. 

The 2019 course is more Than 2,000 miles between Nantes, Kinsale (Ireland), Roscoff and Dieppe and is the longest in the race's history.

 

At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

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