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Tom Dolan's Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance Win ‘Battle of the Rookies’ in Epic Transat Race

13th May 2018
Dolan and co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec crossed the finish line of the iconic transatlantic yacht race after 19 days, nine hours, five minutes and 10 seconds Dolan and co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec crossed the finish line of the iconic transatlantic yacht race after 19 days, nine hours, five minutes and 10 seconds

Ireland’s Tom Dolan of the National Yacht Club has finished the Transat AG2R La Mondiale in 11th place overall, coming home as first rookie in the process.

Dolan and co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec crossed the finish line of the iconic transatlantic yacht race on their boat Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance after 19 days, nine hours, five minutes and 10 seconds.

The duo, who had only sailed together once before teaming up for the 4,000-mile dash from Concarneau, France, to St Barts in the Caribbean, took the top spot in the hotly contested ‘rookie’ category for first-timers 

They finished ahead of arch rivals Erwan Le Draoulec and Lois Berrehar by just 45 minutes.

It’s an impressive start to the Figaro Beneteau season for Dolan, who moved into the class from the Mini 6.50 – and joined forces with eco-packaging giant Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance – at the start of 2018.

The 20-strong fleet of two-person teams included 2016 Figaro La Solitaire winner Yann Richomme as well as Vendee Globe racers Morgan Lagraviere and Thomas Ruyant.

Dolan’s Transat AG2R rookie victory is all the sweeter as Le Draoulec was one of his and Bouroullec’s closest competitors in the Mini 6.50, and the winner of the 2017 Mini Transat.

“We are super happy with the race, and especially as we were the first rookies,” Dolan said. “It’s a big thing in the Figaro class so we’re delighted to take the title for the Transat.

“Tanguy and I both know Erwan really well through the Mini 6.50 but neither of us had beaten him in a while! It’s good for the moral to beat the guy who won the Mini Transat.

“The objective for this race was always to be on the rookie podium and we won it, so it’s great.” 

Dolan and Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance now turn their attention to training for the season highlight, the singlehanded Solitaire du Figaro in August.

“This result sets me up nicely for the rest of the season,” added Dolan, 30, from Kells in Meath. “The boat has been demystified and now I can concentrate on preparing for the big one – the Figaro du Solitaire.”

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.

 

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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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