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Tom Dolan in Top Ten in Stage 3 of Solo URGO Figaro

10th September 2018
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Tom Dolan’s Figaro 2 Smurfit Kappa is currently among the front-runners in Stage 3 of the Figaro Solo Tom Dolan’s Figaro 2 Smurfit Kappa is currently among the front-runners in Stage 3 of the Figaro Solo Photo: Alex Courcoux

Ireland’s Tom Dolan has seen his position move between 7th and 12th this morning as he features frequently in the Top Ten with the Solitaire URGO Figaro fleet racing in difficult headwinds across the southern Bay of Biscay from Northwest Spain to St Gilles in France writes W M Nixon. An area of slack higher pressure in the middle of the Bay has seen all but two of the fleet hold to the east of the base course line in the hope of finding firmer breezes indicated closer to the coast of North Spain. But at the moment it is one of the two boats which have struck out to the north, Thierry Chabagny’s Gedimat, which is shown as current leader of Stage 3.

Chabagny (who still has 231 miles to sail to the finish) and the group packed tightly around Dolan (currently in tenth) are moving at much the same speed of around 6.5 knots hard on the wind. But the predictions are that the often unpredictable mid-Biscay waters will see Chabigny losing wind power, yet it really is anyone’s guess.

Ireland’s other entry Joan Mulloy currently lies 32nd after a long and often frustrating night – like most of the fleet she is to the east of the baseline, currently sailing on starboard tack at 5.8 knots.

Race tracker here

Published in Figaro
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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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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