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Displaying items by tag: Tom Dolan

The National Yacht Club's Tom Dolan has gambled on a southerly route being the fasted as he attempts to climb up the leaderboard in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.

The 30-year-old from Kells, Meath, is currently in 12th position with co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec on their yacht Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance as the 4,000-mile sprint across the Atlantic enters its tenth day.

The iconic race, in which 20 of the world’s best sailors do battle in identical 32ft Figaro Beneteau boats between Concarneau in France and St Barts in the Caribbean, is only Dolan’s second outing since joining forces with eco-packaging giant Smurfit Kappa earlier this year.

"Dolan and Bouroullec are among a group of eleven teams that have pursued a route south towards the Cape Verde archipelago"

Having crossed the Tropic of Cancer two days ago, Dolan and Bouroullec are among a group of eleven teams that have pursued a route south towards the Cape Verde archipelago off the west African coast in the hope of locking into better breeze.

Meanwhile, some 200 miles north-west, the leading pack are closer in distance to the finish line but are in less wind.

With around 2,200 miles still remaining of the leg, Dolan said it would be some time before they knew if their gamble had paid off.

“The cards are down, all bets are in,” Dolan wrote in his latest dispatch from Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance.

“Two days ago we came screaming through the Canaries and since then have invested our max to the south. In ten days’ time we'll see if it has paid off.

“All of this south that we have laid on the table will mean one thing for sure: that we have and will travel a greater distance. The key will be that we will do it faster!

“The forecasts say that we should have 10 days’ worth of stronger wind and current ahead of us. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it.”

Despite both Dolan and Bouroullec being newcomers to the Figaro Beneteau class, they are already proving themselves a force to be reckoned with in a fleet that contains Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race sailors.

The pair have been buoyed by their performance in the race so far – and remain cautiously optimistic about their chances.

“On board things are good, morale is up and stable and the boat is in good condition,” Dolan added.

“For the last 48 hours we have had a sparring partner in Credit Mutuel – they are about half a mile to our right and it's good to have them to be able to compare speed, with which we are happy.

“We are still discovering the boat and to be able to match them for speed is encouraging.

“There is one hell of a big high pressure floating around up north, and if we manage to scrape past it would mean we have a good chance of a top ten finish, but time will tell.”

Published in Figaro
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Ireland’s Tom Dolan and France’s Tanguy Bouroullec have seen their fortunes rise and fall and rise again as the fleet in the Figaro two-handed AG2R Mondiale from Concarneau in Brittany to St Barths in the Caribbean puts the obligatory Canary Islands waypoint astern.

They’ve been shaping up to the tactical decision on which side to favour in the long Transatlantic haul, with the Irish-French duo tracking to the left.

The lack of a stopover in the Canaries has meant that sail damage sustained earlier in the race has to be put right on board, and the vid shows Tom taking on the task of sorting the big spinnaker, while Tanguy looks after Smurfit Kappa/Cerfrance’s excellent progress.

We mentioned before the race started that Tom was now so immersed in the French offshore scene that at times he seemed to think in French – now you can see it for yourself. Meanwhile, the word is that on the leaderboard they’ve gone as high as 5th, but have slipped back at times to 11th, though we’re told to expect welcome developments in the next 36 hours.

Published in Figaro
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Irish ocean racer Tom Dolan has moved up to eighth overall following a full-on 48 hours in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, and co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec rocketed up the leaderboard as they flourished in big Atlantic breeze around 200 miles off the African coast.

After a tough light-wind opening to the race, Dolan’s first major event in the super-competitive Figaro Beneteau fleet, the pair’s boat Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance was hit with gales of up to 40 knots after rounding the north-west tip of Spain.

While some call these conditions ‘fresh to frightening’, Dolan and Bouroullec are renowned for thriving when the weather gods get angry.

“The 48 hours after Cape Finisterre were a tad on the sporty side,” Dolan said. “Our coach Gildas Mahe once told us that there are times when you shouldn’t try to win a race, just be certain not to lose it. It is always the same gentle balance in the heavy stuff.”

After suffering a knock-down, Dolan and Bouroullec discovered one of their spreaders had pieced a hole in their mainsail but after taking precautionary measures to stem the rip they were back up to full speed.

They also sustained damage to their largest spinnaker, which will prove vital once they approach the lighter winds of the Caribbean. 

Turning to their smaller, older spinnaker they put the throttle back down but suffered another knock down that lost them three hours while they waited for conditions to abate.

“It cost is three hours but at least we can say we came within three hours and a snapshackle of keeping up with the best in the sport – not too bad for a pair of rookies,” Dolan said with trademark enthusiasm. 

At 1500 UTC Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance was 80 miles behind leaders Sebastien Simon and Morgan Lagraviere but with a boat speed of more than 10 knots was the fastest in the top ten. 

The fleet must round a waypoint off Las Palmas in Gran Canaria some 150 miles ahead before punching across the Atlantic towards the finish line in St Barts. 

“Now the sun’s out, the music’s on and we’re working on repairs,” Dolan said. “We’re into the trade winds and now the mission is to stay ahead of our fellow newbies Erwan Le Draoulec and Loïs Berrehar.”

Track Dolan’s progress at

Published in Figaro
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Tom Dolan and Tanguy Bouroullec’s intro to two-handed Figaro sailing with Smurfit Kappa-CerFrance was always going to be a very steep learning curve writes W M Nixon. They had very limited time to prepare their boat and hone their skills, going in less than two months from a standing start to the actual start on Sunday at Concarneau of the Transat AG2R.

This takes the fleet in two stages to St Barthlemy in the Caribbean, via a stop in the Canaries. A hasty message sent last night by Tom in his own special style gets the mood:

“Well, we're off anyway and after a typical Dolan start (we were last leaving Concarneau, seaweed issues) we managed to work our way back up the fleet a bit. Not easy keeping with the best in the game, but we're happy enough.

After 2 days crossing Biscay in light winds, it’s finally up to 25 knots, the ballast tanks are full, the rudders are spread and the drysuit is being dusted off. Smurfit Kappa / CerFrance is over on her ear, and screaming along. Macif is just ahead and Teamwork just behind - we think we’re mid fleet.

Next on the menu is Cap Finistere, gusts of up to 45 knots and a hairy enough gybe in a lumpy sea to benefit as much as possible from the "curves" of the isobars, thanks to the low pressure over Spain. Briefly got coverage just now, so I decided I’d send you this quick email and a pic of us rounding Cabo Ortegal when the winds were lighter”.

smurfit kappa ortegal2Smooth and swift sailing past Cabo Ortegal in northwest Spain

Published in Figaro
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Irish ocean racer Tom Dolan is to face the might of the Atlantic for the second time in less than six months as he takes to the start line of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale. 

Dolan, 30, will face his first major test in the ultra-competitive Figaro Bénéteau class since stepping up from the Mini 6.50 fleet at the start of 2018.

The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see Dolan race 3,800 miles from Concarneau in Brittany, France, to St Barts in the West Indies alongside teammate and former Mini 6.50 rival Tanguy Bouroullec.

The race comes just months after Dolan raced solo across the Atlantic in the 2017 Mini Transat in which he placed sixth overall in a fleet of 56.

Earlier this year Dolan teamed up with eco-friendly packaging giant Smurfit Kappa to launch his bid for the 2018 Figaro season and jointly promote a message of sustainability and innovation.

The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will be Dolan’s second outing in Smurfit Kappa after he and Bouroullec raced in the Solo Concarneau 250 earlier this month 

“In the Solo Concarneau 250 were happy speed-wise - we were fast upwind and downwind but unfortunately on a few occasions we were going quickly in the wrong direction,” said Dolan, from Kells in County Meath.

“It was a hard race but good for our first one. Now we need to step up for the Transat. It actually feels like I’m still in Transat mode because I only crossed the finish line of the Mini Transat a few months ago.

“The difference is that with this one is there’s no stopover – if we break something there’s there’s no time to stop. The level of the fleet is so high that if you take your foot off the gas for just a few minutes it’s very hard to get that back.”

Starting on Sunday April 22, the Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see 40 of the world’s best ocean racers converge in their two-person teams to fight it out for the coveted title.

Among the fleet are 2016 Figaro La Solitaire winner Yann Richomme and reigning serie division Mini Transat champion Erwan La Draoulec as well as Vendee Globe racers Morgan Lagraviere and Thomas Ruyant.

“It’s a big step up into the big league for me,” said Dolan, who the French refer to as L’Irlandais Volant – the Flying Irishman. “With the Mini I was on my own on my little scooter but now we’re on a big boat with all the big boys’ toys. It’s pretty overwhelming but I’m excited for the challenge.”

The race starts at 1300 local time (1100 UTC) and can be followed on the tracker here

Published in Figaro
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Meathman Tom Dolan made no secret of the fact that he expected his first competitive outing in the two-handed division of the famous Figaro Class to be a chastening experience writes W M Nixon.

With former Mini-Transat rival Tanguy Bouroullec (Bouroullec was fourth overall in the 54-strong Mini-Transat 2017, while Dolan was sixth), Dolan has recently taken over a well-used Figaro to move up a notch in the high-powered French scene. At the finish at the weekend, they were ninth out of eleven in the two-handed class, while fellow-rookie Joan Mulloy of Mayo racing Taste the Atlantic was 20th out of 24 in the Solo Division.

"Dolan has intensive training in mind before the Two-Handed Transatlantic starts in a fortnight’s time"

So they all have some way to go, to say the least. Dolan has intensive training in mind before the Two-Handed Transatlantic starts in a fortnight’s time, but meanwhile we’ll let him tell the story in his own inimitable way: 

“With regard to the Solo Concarneau 250, we are happy speed-wise. For two rookies who got our hands on the boat just two months ago, we were able to match the best of them for speed both upwind and downwind (useful for a Transatlantic!)

Also, we had a great start, and if it wasn't for a slightly over-doing the layline, we would have passed the first mark in first, so that’s another positive.

tom dolan monday2Tom Dolan and shipmate Tanguy Bouroullec

On the downside, though, we lacked preparation weather-wise, and we got hit hard at Quiberon as we didn’t go close enough in to the headland to exploit the huge left shift that came at it.

This meant that for the whole leg from Quiberon out to Belle Ile, we were to leeward of the fleet sailing close to the wind, while the others had a wider angle - we got steam-rolled. So we'll have to work on strategy a lot more for the Transat. And then in the light wind in the night, we took a while to get the machine going again, but more time on the water should help this.

Voila, that’s about it overall for now - happy enough, but lots of work to do. The level is monstrous, and we're competing against the best, so we know we can't expect to get the same sort of results as we did in the Mini. It will take time to learn the trade, and we have managed to do everything in two months that we had two years to do for the Mini-Transat.

The fact that we have managed to make the machine move is good - now we just have to be sure to move her in the right direction. It's better to go slowly in the right direction that quickly in the wrong one………”

tom dolan monday3Looking good when the going was good. Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance (second from left) when the rookies had found they’d the same speed as the other boats – their problem was choosing the right way to go.

Published in Figaro
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Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan has revealed further details of plans to compete in the hotly-contested Figaro class in 2018 – a move that takes him one step closer to his ultimate goal of the Vendee Globe.

Dolan will join the gruelling Figaro circuit, which features some of the world’s best singlehanded sailors, after a successful tenure in the Mini 6.50 class.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, notched up numerous wins and podium finishes during his time in the class, earning him the nickname L’Irlandais Volant – the Flying Irishman.

His long list of achievements culminated in finishing sixth overall out of a fleet of 56 entries in the iconic Mini Transat Race last year, for which he was shortlisted for the title of Volvo/Irish Sailing/ Irish Sailor of the Year.

Dolan, has now teamed up with eco-friendly packaging giant Smurfit Kappa to launch his bid for the 2018 Figaro season and jointly promote a message of sustainability and innovation.

"Smurfit Kappa supported Tom in 2017 during his Mini 650 campaign and his constantly evolving results were very satisfying for us. Tom is a professional sailor with a very promising future, and this is why we are proud to be supporting him. Innovation and Sustainability are our key values and we are proud to be sharing them with Tom's campaign" said Gérard Mathieu, Marketing and innovation manager, Smurfit Kappa France

tom dolan mini2
Tom Dolan’s Minitransat boat in which Smurfit Kappa were joint sponsors. The eco-friendly packaging giant have now come aboard as lead sponsors for his Figaro campaign.

Tom’s steed will be none other than Figaro 15, the boat that French offshore legends Martin Le Pape and Roland Jourdain raced in 2014.

Despite having plenty of offshore racing experience, including five transatlantic crossings, Dolan admits that the jump into the Figaro, which is a third bigger than the Mini 6.50, is daunting.

“Joining the Figaro fleet this year is exciting, if a little scary,” Dolan said. “The Figaro is known as one of the most challenging classes to sail in because of the sheer level of sailors.

“It’s where the world’s best singlehanders come to prove themselves and if you look at the list of Vendee Globe winners they’ve practically all competed in the Figaro.

“This is very much the next step towards my dream of competing in the Vendee Globe, I want to do the best job I can, for myself and my sponsors.”

Dolan’s first venture in his new boat will be the AG2R La Mondiale – a doublehanded sprint across the Atlantic from the French town of Concarneau, Dolan’s adoptive home, to the Caribbean island of St Barts.

Dolan will team up with and close friend and old Mini 6.50 adversary Tanguy Bouroullec for the 3,800-mile race, which starts on April 22.

The season highlight will be the Solitaire du Figaro, a challenging 1,600-mile solo race around the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, starting on August 26.

figaro racing3
Figaro racing – it’s the Big Boys’ League by comparison with the Mini-Transat.

Dolan’s main goal is to finish on the podium of the rookie class – a division for first-timers in the Solitaire.

“The AG2R is going to be a baptism of fire for me – it’ll be my first proper race in the Figaro and it’s all the way across the Atlantic with no stopover,” Dolan added.

“It’s a quick turnaround from finishing the Mini Transat back in November but I wanted to keep the momentum up, and make sure that I stay sharp.

“Sailing doublehanded is very different to solo sailing but I’ve trained alongside Tanguy for a few years now and we know each other well.

“He was renowned in the Mini for being fast when the conditions were heavy, so he’ll be the ideal guy to have onboard.

“My season goal is to end up on the podium in the rookie division of the Solitaire. If I can do well as a rookie it will have been a good season.”

Dolan is proud to be able to count on the support of Smurfit Kappa, one of Europe’s leading eco-packaging companies.

“Smurfit Kappa has strong values of sustainability and innovation, values that I share and want to spread as I race around the world,” Dolan said.

“Respect for the environment and sustainable development are things that affect me enormously.

“At sea we always try to be minimalist about what we take onboard the boat, and we constantly evaluate any waste we produce.

“This allows us to see first-hand the result of a world obsessed with consumption. When we arrive from a race we are asked if we have seen fish, sunsets, whales... but the reality today is that what we see most is plastic waste. This cannot continue like this.”

Published in Figaro
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Tom Dolan, who last November became the highest-placed Irish sailor ever in the gruelling Mini-Transat, will be giving club talks in Dublin and Dun Laoghaire next week of his adventures writes W M Nixon. It’s quite a story, the remarkable tale of how a farm boy from County Meath, with no sailing background, found himself competing successfully at the highest international level offshore in a particularly demanding class.

He will be talking not just about the 2017 Mini Transat, but of his equally important plans for 2018 and beyond. He has now moved up to the Figaro 2 class, and this week he won his first Figaro race in a training session at Lorient in Brittany

The details of the talks are:

National Yacht Club

4,000 miles Solo from La Rochelle to Martinique; The Story of the Mini-Transat 2017

Tuesday 13th February at NYC at 2000hrs.

No charge and donation of €5 per person to RNLI.

Booking needed at NYC ( 01 280-5725 or email [email protected] ), and details on

Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club

4,000 miles Solo from La Rochelle to Martinique; The Story of the Mini-Transat 2017

Thursday 15th February at PYBC at 2000hrs.

No charge and donation of €5 per person to RNLI.

No Booking needed at PY& BC, details at

Published in Solo Sailing

On Thursday January 25th, at 19:30hrs, Mayo Sailing Club will be hosting a public presentation in the Westport Coast Hotel’s Atlantic Suite by Mini-Transat sailor Tom Dolan, and the admission of just €2 includes tea, coffee and biscuits.

Originating on a farm near Kells, Co Meath, Tom Dolan had no background in sailing. He was never part of a yacht club, never went on sailing holidays and didn't get lessons as a child. When his father spotted an old wooden dinghy in Buy & Sell, the two of them set about fixing it up, and he first set sail on the local lake at the age of 10.

Since then, Tom has built up a very impressive Sailing CV. He has French, Irish and British qualifications and made his first crossing of the Atlantic at just 21 years of age. In 2016, he won the Mini en Mai and the Trophée MAP, becoming the first Irish person to win a race in France. In June, Tom podiumed at the Mini-Fastnet Race, despite having been fouled by a fishing net. That same month, he was second in the 500 Mini-en-Mai Race.

His latest achievement was coming in 6th in the Mini Transat 2017, Ireland’s best ever result in the race. This is a 4,000 mile race across the Atlantic where participants spend almost two months at sea, alone on a 21ft boat. The Mini Transat is considered by many to be one of the most extreme events in sailing considering the distance covered and the small size of the boats.

It promises to be an exciting as well as entertaining and informative evening as Tom talks about his entry into the sailing world, how the Mini Transat went, and provides an insight into his future adventures.

Published in Solo Sailing
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Even as the huge fleet of cruisers and racers - including Eamon Crosbie’s Discovery 56 Pamela from Dun Laoghaire - are into the third day of their Transatlantic crossing in the ARC 2017 from Gran Canaria to St Lucia, on the other side of the ocean at St Marin in Martinique, the number-crunchers for the Mini-Transat La Boulangere 2017 are putting the last touches to their official statement of the overall final results writes W M Nixon.

These will emerge from the amalgamation of the official times of Legs 1 – from La Rochelle in France to Las Palmas in the Canaries, and Leg 2 – from Las Palmas via a gate in the Cape Verde Islands to Martinique. This may sound simple enough, but the tail enders were still tumbling in to St Marin right through the weekend, and with so much at stake with some quite substantial sponsorships involved among the 80 or so finishers, they have to be sure that no infringement of regulations is revealed after they have published results.

However, as an interim move this morning, they published the provisional results for Leg 2, and Ireland’s Tom Dolan is confirmed as fifth, just 48 minutes after third-placed Benoit Sineau. The brief official statement is as follows:

Mini Transat 

Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) crossed the finish line in the second stage of the Mini Transat La Boulangère on Thursday, November 16th at 2h50'15 '' (French time). His race time on this 2nd stage is 14 days, 12 hours, 42 minutes, 15 seconds at an average speed of 8.43 knots.

There has been a flood of finishers over the past few days, and these are the top ten finishers in the Proto and Series fleets for the second leg from Las Palma to Le Marin:
1. Ian Lipinski

2. Jorg Riechers

3. Simon Koster

4. Andrea Fornaro

5. Keni Piperol

6. Quentin Vlamynck

7. Camille Taque

8. Aurelien Poisson

9. Arthur Leopold Leger

10. Frederic Guerin


1. Erwan Le Draoulec

2. Clarisse Cremer
3. Benoit Sineau

4. Tanquy Bouroullec

5. Thomas Dolan

6. Pierre Chedeville

7. Valentin Gautier

8. Germain Kerleveo

9. Yannick Le Clech

10. Cedric Faron

Meanwhile, here are thoughts on his race from Production Boat Winner Erwan le Draoulec which give us some idea of what is involved:

“I brought a book with me, but I never thought to read it. I helmed, I ate, I slept, I answered the calls of nature, a real animal life. It was a nightmare.

The boat was soaked the whole time. I never dumped any sails, I just went up forward to reinforce my bowsprit. To get to sleep when I was under autopilot, I put on my headphones with some audio books and I listened again to the whole of Harry Potter. It was the only way of preventing stress whilst the boat was powering along at 18 knots, sometimes under autopilot, but I never eased off the pace.

It was only in the last two days where I dropped the large spinnaker in the squalls. I said to myself that it would be too silly to break everything so close to the goal. Prior to that though I really attacked hard. I knew I was risking a dismasting, but my line of thinking was that I was only twenty years old and that I’d have the opportunity to do another Mini-Transat. I didn’t make the most of it, I didn’t enjoy it. I’d like to the cross the Atlantic again, but gently so as to make the most of it.”

chedeville draoulec dolan2Comrades and rivals – Pierre Chedeville, Erwan Le Draoulec and Tom Dolan

Published in Solo Sailing
Page 8 of 15

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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