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Tom Dolan Now 10th Heading Into Figaro’s Second Leg After Protest Committee Call

5th September 2020
Tom Dolan has received a welcome boost heading into the second stage from Sunday Tom Dolan has received a welcome boost heading into the second stage from Sunday Credit: Alexis Courcoux

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan is now in an even stronger position heading into the second leg of La Solitare du Figaro, after the protest committee’s strike against two higher-placing finishers from Thursday (3 September).

Both Tanguy Le Turquais and Frederic Duthil incurred five-minute penalties for failing to pass the cardinal mark, which brings Dolan up two places in the race standings from 12th to 10th, while British sailor Sam Goodchild (Leyton) rises to ninth.

Thursday’s original placing was already Dolan’s best result since the Figaro circuit switched to the faster and lighter Beneteau Figaro 3 last year, and he was only minutes shy of the top 10.

But the lift into the upper echelon will surely be an added boost to the 33-year-old Meath native as he readies his Smurfit Kappa yacht for the second stage — from the Baie de Saint Brieuc, via Plymouth, to Dunkirk — starting at 11am local time tomorrow, Sunday 6 September.

The course has been shortened due to forecast light winds for the upwind sail across the Channel, in order to ensure enough recovery days before the third stage next Saturday 12 September.

Commenting on his promotion up the standings, Dolan said: “To be honest it is nice to be up to 10th but in real terms it means nothing really as the fellow behind be is only a minute behind and then there are five guys within two minutes of me. So as ever it is a bit like a restart.

“You just have to take each leg as it comes. But for sure I’d rather be in 10th than 30th.”

I have worked hard for the result even if I maybe did not expect to be doing so well

Regarding the changed course for stage two, he said: “This will be a bit of a speed leg, there might be some tactics in the English Channel going across to Eddystone and then it is downwind speed. I think my downwind speed is good.”

Racing strategy aside, Dolan will also be paying heed to the logistics of life on board after losing water from his drinking containers in the past stage.

“I drank ten litres of water in the last 24 hours to get rehydrated. I won’t be making that mistake again but everything is good now. I feel great.”

As for the challenge that lies ahead? Dolan is confident but circumspect.

“I don’t think anything has been written yet,” he said. “There are a bunch of good guys behind me so it will be difficult and there will be a lot of changes yet.

“It should be a good leg with 20-25 kts on the downwind, plenty of wind going in to Dunkirk. There will be a few opportunities, I think positioning is the key in the Channel and then on the way down to Dunkirk.

“It is going to be interesting and for sure nice to be going into it in a decent position. I have worked hard for the result even if I maybe did not expect to be doing so well. But it gives me confidence but I’m keeping focused, not getting over-excited; there is such a long way to go.”

This story was updated on Saturday evening 5 September with additional details and comment.

MacDara Conroy

About The Author

MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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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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