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Tom Dolan Achieves Eighth in Best Figaro Finish Yet But Expects Penalty

20th June 2019
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Tom Dolan speaks to reporters at the end of stage three Tom Dolan speaks to reporters at the end of stage three Photo: Alex Courcoux

Ireland's Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) achieved his best result of this, his second La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, as he took a provisional eighth place, just ten seconds ahead of British rival Will Harris (Hive Energy) in ninth when he crossed the stage three finish line.

British and Irish friends and rivals Will Harris and Tom Dolan had a great match race to the finish line, Dolan in eighth place pipping Harris by just ten seconds after 400 miles and three days and four hours of racing.

"The keel must have hit twenty times"

Dolan however, now faces a jury decision as to the penalty he expects for using his engine to get away from the rocks in the tidal race at Alderney. 

“The keel must have hit twenty times,” Dolan recalled. “Tanguy got stuck and I was so lucky not to. I expect to get a penalty, maybe 25 minutes or something like that, but what else could I do?”

"That’s the maddest thing I have ever been through"

Dolan, whose career best before today was his ninth in the third leg last year, continued: “That’s the maddest thing I have ever been through. I had a terrible start as usual, a real Tom Dolan start, and the fleet were gone. There was no wind at the coast and I managed to skip around them and get into the top 10 and then I got all excited saying, ‘I am doing well, I am doing well.’

“I missed the tide at Alderney by no more than ten minutes, I would say. If there had not been that general recall at the start I would have got through and then there was a whole load of us ended up in this washing machine. The tide was pushing us back and the wind was taking us forwards and Tanguy and I got sucked into this thing. The boat was hopping off the rocks and so I turned on the engine to get out. Tanguy ended up getting stuck.

“After that I had to put my head back together and I was going to give up, I said ‘what am I doing here’, the whole fleet got through and I thought this is useless. But I thought I might as well keep going. And then luckily, or not, most of the fleet tried to go around the TSS to the north but the ridge of high pressure was moving north, so I anchored and I got this weird sea breeze, a night breeze along the coast of Alderney and managed to crawl west. Then the wind came in from the west and I was back in the top ten again. From there it was a battle of wills to stay there. 
It was a mad race. I have never had so many ups and downs in the one race. 
That was the hardest race I have ever done. 
This was the same as the Solitaire last year; two terrible first legs and then a good third one which dragged me back from the brinks of giving up sailing and going back to delivering pizza or whatever. It is a mad sport.”

At the top of the leaderboard, crossing the Stage 3 finish line at 18:16.54hrs local time, Yoann Richomme finds his lead cut to just 1 hour 26 minutes and 14 seconds over the new second placed skipper Gildas Mahe (Breizh Cola-Equithe), who finished second on Stage 3 this morning.

Finishing in to Roscoff, emotionally drained at the end of an incredible Stage 3 on which he finished 13th, but nonetheless delighted to have held on to his overall lead in the 50th edition of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, Yoann Richomme (HelloWork-Telegramme Groupe) admitted that after the leading trio broke away at Alderney, he had no idea of how much time was ahead of them at the start of the leg.

As it was, the margins of between ten and 11 hours that he had in hand over Gildas Mahe (Breizhe Cola-Equithe), Anthony Marchand (Groupe Royer-Secours Populaire) and Alexis Loison (Region Normandie) pre-start were enough, although Richomme has had his cushion cut to one hour and 26 minutes and 14 seconds. Mahe is now second overall and Loison is third at two hours and 22 minutes 12 seconds behind Richomme who has led since the end of Stage 1 in to Kinsale.

Leg four Baie De Morlaix to Dieppe (500 nm) starts Saturday 22 June.

Published in Figaro
Afloat.ie Team

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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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