Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Ireland’s Tom Dolan Finishes Seventh Overall after 'Brutal' Final Stage of La Solitaire du Figaro

8th September 2022
Tom Dolan - The Irishman again showed he is one of the best in the fleet
Tom Dolan - The Irishman again showed he is one of the best in the fleet

Top Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) has taken seventh overall on the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro, the three-stage French solo offshore race which finished last night in Saint Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire estuary on the Atlantic coast.

Crossing the line at 21h49 last night, an exhausted Dolan was objective, pleased to have again finished inside the top 10 of the 34 starters who set off from the same waters three weeks ago. Still a 15th on the final 640-mile stage across the Bay of Biscay in strong winds and big seas did not allow him to hold on to the fifth place that he started the final leg with.

The Irishman again showed he is one of the best in the fleet, leading this stage after the first turning mark last Sunday night and Monday morning as the race set out across the Bay of Biscay. A tactical error in the middle of the Biscay leg, when passing through two successive weather systems, cost him dearly. By the time he sailed around the rocky Los Farallones islets on Spain’s north coast, he was down in 19th and only managed to gain four places on the 240 miles tough downwind stage to the finish line.

Twelfth on the first leg to Port La Foret, Dolan excelled on the second leg into Royan when he was fifth and the fastest on two high winds in the English Channel before the wind died and the race restarted 140 miles from the finish line.

"I feel disappointed in the last leg; I made a stupid mistake"

After a last leg which saw winds of 35kts and big Biscay seas, which meant 24 hours of steering with no sleep, Dolan said in Saint Nazaire, “I feel disappointed in the last leg; I made a stupid mistake. I made a point of positioning myself to the south of everyone, so I would be to windward when the change came and then chickened out to stick with the leaders and that is exactly what I should not have done. I should have stuck to my guns.”

“But seventh is good, it is a top 10, but it’s not fifth!” he smiled ruefully, “But I am sailing so much better. I was more free in my thinking in what I did and not worrying so much about the others. My starts have been better which is pleasing after all the work we did this winter and then I just need even more confidence in myself.”

Managing his limited sleep times is also an area he sees for improvement, “I need to get that sorted then I can start winning these things. I think I took sleep for granted and made bad decisions at tired times of the race. But seventh overall is top 10, and it was close. I am pleased to have been up front a lot and to show that 2020 (when he was fifth overall) was no fluke. That is good. Now I just want to sleep and go home to see my mum in Ireland.”

Published in Figaro, Tom Dolan
Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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.

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating