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Dolan & Foxall Team Up As All-Irish Challenge For Figaro Season Opener

13th March 2019
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Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall will race the new Figaro Beneteau 3 Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall will race the new Figaro Beneteau 3

Tom Dolan will form an all-Irish partnership with the vastly experienced Damian Foxall for the first race for the new Figaro Beneteau 3, the Sardinha Cup which starts on March 27th.

After last year’s promising first season in the Figaro one design class, finishing third rookie overall, Dolan has embraced the circuit’s change to the brand new foiling Figaro Beneteau 3, and has spent recent weeks learning how to make the new boat sail fast.

Ten times round the world sailor, a winner of the crewed Volvo Ocean Race and the two-handed Barcelona World Race round the world, Foxall cut his teeth in the solo and short-handed world in the Figaro class in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He became was the first even non-French skipper to win a leg of La Solitaire du Figaro and who finished top rookie in 1997.

The decision to move to the new foil-assisted, faster and more responsive Figaro 3 has proven a magnet to many of the top French ocean racing stars such as Loick Peyron, Michel Desjoyeaux, and Charles Caudrelier as well as three times La Solitaire winners Jérémie Beyou and Yann Eliès.

Dolan received his new Figaro 3 on January 25th and had his first training sessions in February coached by Tanguy Leglatin and Gildas Mahe. “To be honest the training has been going very well.” Said Dolan, who hails from Kells in County Meath but lives in Concarneau.

“We have been among the fastest boats on the water. But like everyone we need to work hard on the manoeuvres. That is where the biggest losses are right now.”

Dolan adds: “It is great to have Damian with me. He is very calm on the boat and his experience is obvious but one of the most important learnings for me has been organisation, discipline and attention to detail, how to run a programme. He has been giving me a bit of a push in that direction and it makes a real difference in terms of confidence in yourself and the programme.”

“But besides all that, we have a good craic together and I have long since forgiven Damian for his County Kerry roots.”

Foxall is delighted to be back in France among many of his Figaro counterparts, French sailors who have remained friends and rivals over the 20 years, and loving the challenge of scaling the Figaro 3 learning curve as fast and efficiently as possible with his fellow countryman Dolan.

“Being on the dock here in Lorient it feels like only yesterday when I was here in my Figaro years. It is fantastic. There is the same kind of sensation with some of the best offshore racers in the world here. It is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase Irish sailing.” Foxall smiles.

“Tom has been here in France and doing it for a few years and he is well integrated with the sailors here and he is doing well. Here we have top guys like Charles Caudrelier and Alain Gautier and we are holding our place at the top of the fleet.”

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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