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Tom Dolan Moves Into First Place After Figaro Race Protest

1st September 2023
Two becomes one - An International Jury decision has promoted Tom Dolan (IRL) to Stage 1 winner of the La Solitaire du Figaro
Two becomes one - An International Jury decision has promoted Tom Dolan (IRL) to Stage 1 winner of the La Solitaire du Figaro. Dolan becomes the first Irish skipper to win a stage of the annual multi-stage solo offshore race since compatriot Damian Foxall won in 1998 on the third leg from Gijon into Concarneau. Credit: Alexis Courcoux

Jury decisions have changed rankings on the first stage of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, which means Ireland's Tom Dolan has won the leg to Kinsale.

The rankings for the first stage of the 54 La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec were altered this morning after decisions made by the International Jury.

The French rookie skipper who crossed the finish line first yesterday morning into Kinsale, Ireland Benoît Tuduri (CAPSO - En Cavale), received a 30-minute penalty after a protest against him from the Race Committee for breaking a class rule. He retains his position as the first rookie on the Beneteau Bizuths ranking but drops to fourth.

Following this decision, without appeal, the Irish skipper Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa -Kingspan) becomes the winner of the 610-mile first stage of the 54th edition of the race.

He becomes the first Irish skipper to win a stage of the annual multi-stage solo offshore race since compatriot Damian Foxall won in 1998 on the third leg from Gijon into Concarneau.

It is a remarkable success for Dolan, whose first-ever race was around the Fastnet only ten years ago.

Other Jury decisions affect Julie Simon (DOUZE), who was third across the line but received a 17-minute penalty. She is now 17th in the stage.

Switzerland’s Nils Palmieri(TeamWork) and Robin Marais (Ma Chance Moi aussi) are now second and third)

In summary

Tom Dolan moves to the top of the provisional general classification of the 54th Solitaire du Figaro Paprec.

Julie Simon goes from 3rd to 17th place after jury.

Edouard Golbery and Ben Beasley(NZL) each receive a 15-minute penalty

Winner of the first stage and leader of the provisional general classification, Tom Dolan emerged from his post-race Physiotherapy session this morning to be told he has become the stage winner. He said:

“ It feels weird right now; it will take time to sink in, and it is not the way I would want to win a stage. I feel sorry for Benoit, but I guess as a rookie he didn't know the rules. I had a tough start to the season with doing my Round Ireland record attempt and not making the time I needed, and otherwise, I have not really been on top form, I was worried about this leg because it is home waters, and I am coming home and the last time I came here I did terribly –I was down in the 30s – and so winning this first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro with all these things going on in my head it feels great.”

“I believe I am the first Irish sailor to win a stage of La Solitaire since Damian Foxall in 1998, and considering my first ever race was the Mini Fastnet in 2013, just ten years ago on a Pogo 1, it’s not bad, is it…..”

He added, “This will give me a lot more confidence, but it will not affect the way I approach or prepare for the next two legs”

Édouard Golbery (Race for Science – Verder) received a 15-minute penalty for entering the DST at the Saint-Marcourf islands. He is now ranked 24th. “It’s a bit frustrating but at the same time, it’s a mistake on my part because I didn’t update the road book with the amendment in the race document. I had re-imported everything just before departure and thought everything was up to date. In fact, the zone had to be created manually. I will know next time. I don't doubt my mistake, but 15 minutes is not insignificant. That’s how it is, I’m a rookie, I won’t make the same mistake next time.”

The same penalty for New Zealand skipper Ben Beasley (Ocean Attitude), who entered the same TSS for the same reasons. “It’s disappointing, but the jury’s decision is fair. The amendment came late, I didn't see it. Just the French version, and I didn't understand. I thought they were going to update the Adrena files they gave us initially, but they didn't. It's a hard lesson, but I'm learning. In the end, it doesn’t change anything in terms of ranking, but it means more time to make up compared to those who are ahead,” he declared. He nevertheless retained his 29th place in the first-stage ranking.

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Published in Figaro, Tom Dolan Team

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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.

2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Course

Stage #1 Caen – Kinsale : 610 nautical miles
Departure August 27 (expected arrival August 30)

Stage #2 Kinsale – Baie de Morlaix : 630 nautical miles
Departure September 3 (expected arrival September 6)

Stage #3 Baie de Morlaix – Piriac-sur-Mer : 620 nautical miles
Departure September 10 (expected arrival September 13)

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