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Encouraging Second Place for Tom Dolan in the Drheam Cup in the Figaro Duo Class

22nd July 2020
 François Jambou (left) and Tom Dolan were second in the Drheam Cup Figaro Duo class François Jambou (left) and Tom Dolan were second in the Drheam Cup Figaro Duo class Photo: via Facebook

Ireland’s solo racer Tom Dolan gave his hopes for this year’s La Solitaire du Figaro solo offshore race a significant boost when he and French co-skipper François Jambou finished second overall on Smurfit Kappa in the Figaro duo class of the 428 nautical miles Drheam Cup yesterday.

For most of the race, the Irish/French duo enjoyed a spirited match race against the eventual category winners, French 2012 Olympian Pierre Leboucher sailing with Benoit Mariette, and finished less than five minutes behind the class victors.

Dolan and Jambou were eighth across the finish line overall in the Figaro class which was won outright by Briton Sam Goodchild.

Dolan was pleased with the Smurfit Kappa duo’s race and the result, atoning for a disappointing light wind Maitre-CoQ solo offshore race two weeks ago when he finished mid-fleet.

“I am pretty happy. We sailed well. We went the right way all of the time and stuck to the roadbook, our strategy, and that paid off. We were quick enough all the time and that augers well for the future. I have sailed with François eight or ten times now and so we are a good team.” Smiled Dolan at the finish in La Trinite.

The course took the fleet from Sunday’s start off Cherbourg-Cotentin north across the Channel, turning west to Wolf Rock then south to La Trinite.

“I am especially pleased because the race was a complete test starting out in light winds, with some stronger spells with some upwind and downwind but lots of reaching when you have to be fast. We started badly – again – but worked our way up through the fleet progressively and then held our own. We had a little bit of an error during the second night when we were working to keep a boat in check which we thought was Leboucher but the lights were those of a different boat.” Dolan recalled, “But the key takeaway from this is that the course was like a leg of the Solitaire and we did well enough, certainly I am a bit more confident than after the Maitre-CoQ.”

"Need to check for damage after hitting an unidentified object during the race"

“The game was played on the first night really when the wind came from the east towards the end of the crossing of the Channel and we were to the right of the fleet and so that was good and paid off. Then we stuck to the strategy, to the roadbook I had prepared, and raced the boats around us. That is a good lesson in itself.”

Racing with the Mini Transat winner Jambou, the duo elected to put in some time now to enhance their prospects for next year’s two handed Transat AG2R, Transatlantic. And Dolan is preparing to diversify his programme towards selection for Ireland for the 2024 Olympics’ mixed offshore racing. The race also represent a gilt edged opportunity to run what will be part of this summer’s La Solitaire course.

On returning to base today (Wednesday) Dolan will have the Figaro Beneteau Smurfit lifted out of the water to check for damage after hitting an unidentified object during the race.

“It is a little bit of a worry because in terms of repairs and preparation I am just working myself at the moment with no help. But there is no sign of damage to the inside skin of the boat so I am hoping it will be OK.” Dolan concluded.

Published in Figaro
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Ireland & La Solitaire du Figaro

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 celebrated 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.

What Irish ports have hosted The Solitaire du Figaro?

The race has previously called to Ireland to the following ports; Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

What Irish sailors have raced The Solitaire du Figaro?

So far there have been seven Irish skippers to participate in La Solitaire du Figaro. 

In 1997, County Kerry's Damian Foxall first tackled the Figaro from Ireland. His win in the Rookie division in DHL gave him the budget to compete again the following year with Barlo Plastics where he won the final leg of the race from Gijon to Concarneau. That same year a second Irish sailor Marcus Hutchinson sailing Bergamotte completed the course in 26th place and third Rookie.

In 2000, Hutchinson of Howth Yacht Club completed the course again with IMPACT, again finishing in the twenties.

In 2006, Paul O’Riain became the third Irish skipper to complete the course.

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 had two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who joined the rookie ranks and kept the Irish tricolour flying high in France. Mulloy became the first Irish female to take on the race.

Tom Dolan in Smurfit Kappa competed for his third year in 2020 after a 25th place finish in 2019. Dolan sailed a remarkably consistent series in 2020 and took fifth overall, the best finish by a non-French skipper since 1997 when Switzerland’s Dominique Wavre finished runner up. Dolan wins the VIVI Trophy.

Dolan finished 10th on the first stage, 11th on the second and seventh into Saint Nazaire at the end of the third stage. Stage four was abandoned due to lack of wind. 

Also in 2020, Dun Laoghaire’s Kenneth Rumball became the eleventh Irish sailor to sail the Figaro.

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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