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Twelfth after Stage 1 of the 2022 La Solitaire du Figaro, Ireland’s solo racing sailor Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) sees the 635 miles second stage, which starts Sunday at 1300hrs local time in Port La Forêt, Finistère, Brittany, as a great opportunity to play to his strengths and experience as he seeks to reduce the 1hr 23min deficit he has to the podium of the three-stage race.

Since finishing Thursday morning, Dolan has been super vigilant and disciplined in his rest and recovery. Even though he lives only a ten-minute's drive from the La Solitaire race village, he has chosen to rent an apartment locally to ensure he stays absolutely in the ‘zone’.

He asserts, “Anytime I have gone home during a race, I have not done well on the next leg, so it is important to stay in the zone, in the race, in the rhythm. I don’t know if others who live round here have done the same because I literally have not seen anyone. It is sleep, eat, weather, drink water and drink more water.”

"24 hours of strong winds ahead – 25 gusting 30 knots"

With the benefit of hindsight and rest, he is happy with his Leg 1 performance, “It was positive. Overall I think I sailed well. I even led the race for a couple of hours – even if nobody noticed – but it is positive to have been up there. And from there, you can only control the controllables as they say. I don’t feel like I made mistakes and finished with the group I was with. I could do nothing to respond to the boats which were miles behind and then went way west; that was their opportunity. And I finished within fifteen minutes of the top of the lead group, so that is good.”

But while Leg 1 was stop-start and allowed the fleet to compress many times, this second stage is going to be a big test of big winds sailing, “On paper, the next leg looks like the toughest leg I have ever seen coming up on a Solitaire. We have 24 hours of strong winds – 25 gusting 30kts in the north of the English Channel, upwind and downwind, at night with cargo ships everywhere. So that will be 24 hours without sleep and then the wind just shuts off completely at the Chaussée de Sein. With the two conditions like that you can't sleep. Twelve hours stuck at the helm, under the spinnaker, gobbling down energy bars with the brain switched off and the drysuit on. Then we sail straight into the light winds.”

The prospect of the fast sailing is one Dolan is looking forwards to, not least after a high proportion of drifting around on Leg 1, even if he was up front until the final third of the course from Saint Nazaire to Port La Foret. He concludes. “I am a little excited by it. I like it and manage alright. This will be a test of seamanship, don’t explode the spinnaker. And going through Guernsey with big wind over tide. It will be about looking after the boat and myself, making good manoeuvres and doing them slowly and well. And it is not the kind of stage where you absolutely have to be in the lead group. Even if they get away from you every GRIB file says we will sail into a hole at the end. It is important not to be completely left behind, it is about keeping up a high average and looking after the boat and the kit.”

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Published in Tom Dolan

With the course now shortened by 85 miles to 559 nautical miles because of intermittent periods of light winds, the leaders on Stage 1 of the 2002 La Solitaire du Figaro should round a virtual waypoint at the mouth of the Bristol channel late this Tuesday night where they will turn for the finish line in Port-la-Forêt, Brittany some 230 miles to the south.

The stage winners are expected some time on Thursday morning, the course being shortened to ensure that all 34 competing solo racers get sufficient time to recover before Sunday’s re-start for Stage 2.

Pre-race favourite Tom Laperche (Région Bretagne-CMB Performance) who has two overall podium finishes already has slightly extended his lead, moving out to be 2.7 nautical miles ahead of Ireleand’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) who in turn is just over one mile ahead of audacious French rookie Basile Bourgnon (EDENRED). The 20-year-old, whose Swiss dad Laurent won the 1988 La Solitaire on his first attempt, made a big move to the west last night and gained 19 places, stealing third from Brit Alan Roberts (Seacat Services). Roberts is in a tightly spaced group alongside Corentin Horeau (Mutuelle Bleue) both tussling over fourth and fifth place.

Laperche led at Bishop Rock, 16 minutes up on Dolan and 27 minutes ahead of Bourgnon.

Speaking just before Bishop Rock this morning before the Scillies, Roberts had pledged to stay conservative, “It is certainly good to be up near the front of the fleet. There is a long way still to go. So now I am just looking to play the race course and take the options I can to move forwards but making sure I don’t make any mistakes. So now it will be conservative sailing to the finish line. Conditions at the moment 10-12 knots under spinnaker. It was a really difficult night with an agitated sea and it was really dark so it was nearly impossible to helm when you have no boat in front, it is a little easier with a boat in front of you. It is good. I had a good bit of sleep yesterday on the approach to the Chaussée de Sein and now looking to Bishop.”

Bourgnon, the youngest skipper on this 53rd edition of the race, was delighted with his option, taking advantage of the inevitable ‘herd mentality’ to be expected on the first leg of the three stage race: “Yesterday there was a decision to be made how to position ourselves for the Scillies TSS. I felt that the wind was not coming in from the left as expected. And so I told myself it was worth the risk. I went out all on my own which is never very reassuring. I did not really know what the outcome would be but it was worth the punt. I am pretty satisfied even as Jeanne (Grégoire, director of the Pôle Finistère Course au Large) says ‘rookies will try anything’ Now I need to try and maintain the position.”

While the winds remain quite light they are due to build overnight with a southerly building to 15-18kts through the night with stronger gusts.

Catalan solo racer Pep Costa (Team Play to B-Terravia) remains firmly in the top 10 in ninth, five miles behind the leaders, Swiss skipper Nils Palmieri (Teamwork) is 17th, Germany’s Jorg Riechers (Alva Yachts) is 27th on his first La Solitaire since his one and only effort in 2005.

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Published in Figaro

In light drizzle and a gentle southerly breeze Corentin Horeau (Mutuelle Bleue) made the best start to lead the 34-strong 2022 La Solitaire du Figaro fleet away from the mouth of the Loire estuary, opening a 648 nautical miles Stage 1 which – if the winds play ball – will take the solo racers north past Bishops Rock at the Scillies around Skokholm Island, a tiny bird sanctuary two miles off Wales’ Pembroke coast where they should turn south toward the stage finish in Port-la-Forêt where they should finish Thursday morning.

Only light to moderate winds are forecast for this, the first of three legs. With multiple small, weak fronts and many transitions expected only that southwards, returning leg to the finish seems relatively straightforward. There will be several chances for comebacks, transitions or light ‘park ups’ which should allow those who have lost early miles to make good their deficits. Certainly the first 24 hours will keep the solo sailors on high alert as they seek to interpret and respond to the small changes in wind conditions.

Britain’s top hope Alan Roberts (Seacat Services), a renowned inshore dinghy racer, was in the early fight, seeking to stay fast and clean in what proved a scrappy, intense departure circuit off Saint Martin Chef Chef. One hour after the start gun Roberts was seventh. Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) made his most accomplished La Solitaire start yet and was in the early mix too in 11h, as was German rookie Sanni Buecke (This Race Is Female) still very much in her comfort zone as a Tokyo Olympic 49er FX silver medallist. Spain’s Pep Costa (Play to B-Terravia) was 12th.

Before leaving the dock in Saint Nazaire this morning early leader Horeau had said: “The weather forecast looks very complicated but that will leave everything open. Overall, we won't have any big conditions to manage on this first stage with a few fronts to manage. You will have to be opportunistic. We need to keep something in reserve so as not to burn yourself out from the start because there are strategic decisions to be taken in Northern Brittany. But then we shouldn’t stress too much if you lose a bit under a small cloud, or in a little front. After Skokholm island there will be a nice slide downwind when we get into the North-North-West wind. We will run downwind well to Port-La Forêt ETA Thursday morning. It is not going to be easy but hopefully I can make my experience tell.”

Unstable weather

‘The light weather of the start should give way to a southerly wind of eight to 12kts, veering to the SW and maybe picking up to 12 to 15 knots’ says the race meteo specialist Cyrille Duchesne of Meteo Consult, “It should stay fairly tight and direct along the coast with some maybe opting to go offshore looking for more wind.”

The Lorient Grand Large team’s weather adviser Marcel Van Triest summarises,
“There are multiple, multiple fronts. Even before the Chaussée de Sein there will be two or three low activity fronts. The first one will be around midnight around Quiberon and Belle Ile. There is a choice there. Then a second one where they tack at the south of Glenans. The first part of the race is not going to see any big changes, just a sequence of little lines coming through, all tacking at the same time. It is more interesting thereafter, a binary choice at Ushant at the Traffic Separation zone. To me it is 55 per chance in between the TSS and Ushant, 45 per cent outside.”

He continues, “Across the Channel it is lighter with a frontal boundary between Ireland and Wales, a vast area of not a lot of wind. It will eventually be cleaned up and becomes more like a proper front. At Bishop Rock it gets complicated as there is no wind straight on, so the routes become complicated and there is a good chance to catch up.”

The tidal ranges across the Bristol Channel are relatively low at the moment. The new front around Skokholm brings a NW’ly wind which will remain stronger for the boats behind.

“The exciting stuff as far as the watchers are concerned at the TSS zone Ushant and what happens straight after Bishop Rock.”Concludes Van Triest.

Back among the favourites

After a four year break Horeau, 33, returned last year and finished eighth. After three legs he was fifth and set to hit his target result before a disappointing final leg. He is widely considered a podium contender this season. Part of the reason he took a break was because he was ‘eternally dissatisfied’ with not being able to better his second place on the 2014 general classification but now he is even hungrier for the elusive win.

Sprints for time bonuses

New on this 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro are sprint bonuses which on Stage 1 come into play at the West Cardinal Buoy Chaussée de Sein. First to pass gets a time bonus of five minutes, second three minutes and third one minute.

They said:

Tom Dolan (IRL,Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan): “It is looking a lot lighter than it was originally expected. The rebounds, the compression and expansions, are going to be even more pronounced. There will be a lot of opportunities to catch up right to the finish. And I am pleased that the start is not having a lot of circuits before we leave as I don’t like them, I like a clean start. That should suit. I feel great, excited and ready to go. Now on my fifth race I know what to expect and I think I get into the race rhythm earlier, how I manage the boat and myself, all comes earlier. The key in the first 24 hours up to the Chaussée de Sein is looking a bit complicated, there are little fronts with different windshifts, so no time to rest, eat and sleep. There can be big speed differences between offshore where the breeze might be and inshore, but getting to the west might be the hard part. All the changes are coming from there but it is complicated to get there.”

Sanni Beucke (GER. This Race Is Female): “I am very, very nervous as there seems to be things going wrong on race start morning. I have been running late because I could not get the weather files, the GRIB files, loaded into my computer. But this will be a very long leg, four nights, but there will be many chances to catch up which is great for me. The whole situation could not be better for me. For a start if you told me in February this year I would be here doing the first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro I would have said ‘No way’ My key watchwords are ‘speed, speed, speed.”

Alan Roberts (GBR, Seacat Services): “I feel great, on form. Over the leg the wind will likely average 10-14kts, but light at the start with not much chance of the thermal coming in. That might let the gradient wind come through or it could be light and we will need to ‘sniggle’ out through the first 24 hours. I like this kind of leg but it will be hard to know what to do. There are so many islands and there are so many options, a little bit of rest crossing the Channel.”

Basile Bourgnon (EDENRED), 1st participation: “This is my first Solitaire. I don't quite know what to expect. I'm not really stressed. Is that good sign or not? I don't know but I am going into this with some confidence surrounded by my friends. It will be an opportunity to visit England and Skokholm Island. The conditions are going to be light. For me that is not a problem. We will have to be good in all conditions. I had a good pre-season with good places. There are things that are possible, even if La Solitaire is a special case. I haven't really set myself a goal, except for the Rookies ranking. Guillaume Pirouelle is my main rival and he was very strong at the start of the year. We'll see how we both go. And for the general classification, we will see at the end of the three stages”.

Published in Figaro

After the host nation, France, which fields 25 of the 34 skippers, Ireland - along with England - has the second biggest representation in the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro, the French solo offshore race which takes place each summer off the Atlantic and Channel coasts.

Three Irish solo racers are set to compete on solo sailing’s absolute pinnacle event which starts on Sunday with a 635 miles stage. French-based Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) moved to France 12 years ago to pursue his dreams of top level solo racing. He scored a fifth overall in 2020, the best finish by any non-French skipper for nearly 20 years and is looking to go better this time after a disappointing 16th last year.

Dun Laoghaire’s sailing coach, sailing school owner Kenny Rumball (Offshore Racing Academy), 35 is back for a second attempt after racing as a rookie in 2020. And Howth entrepreneur and amateur offshore racer Conor Fogerty, 51, ( is out to complete La Solitaire du Figaro for the first time as a learning experience.

Dolan, 33, who comes from County Meath has long since established himself among the very top echelons of the Figaro fleet and this has prepared perfectly in each area, drawing on his good and bad experiences garnered since he did his first La Solitaire in 2018 when he finished 30th.

“I am out to do better than that fifth and that will depend on not making these same mistakes as before.” Said Dolan, “I need to take it easy and stay conservative, not taking any risks on the first leg, just stay with the group. I know what it is like to have a shocker on the first leg and feel out of it and I never want that again, spending the whole race feeling miserable and trying to make amends. And I feel well prepared. We have done a lot of racing this season, less training. It has been one race after another and probably raced more miles than ever before. Experience also says ‘stick to the plan, stick to the roadbook which means when to eat when to sleep and stay with it because if you get overtired it affects your decisions and choices, so I’ve learned that.”

Rumball, high hopes of high teens, maybe 15th?

Rumball came to the La Solitaire du Figaro in 2020, like many before him, wide-eyed and with great expectations as an accomplished offshore racer. Only when he got into the race did he realise the gap between him and even the mid fleet. He is adamant his second attempt will be his last, but he just wants to see how he can do with a decent programme and some good training and racing under his belt. He has done all three major races ready to peak on this La Solitaire du Figaro. He has been in France since January and trained out of La Rochelle whilst setting up the Ocean Racing Academy with Irish project manager Marcus Hutchinson.

They are looking to provide coaching for offshore racers of all levels and disciplines but trying to provide a smoother, more efficient pathway into the French system avoiding the pitfalls and offering turn-key fast track routes into circuits like the Figaro.

April’s Solo Maître Coq marked decision time for Rumball. But a decent result, 19th, was enough to see him continue and step up preparations for this La Solitaire du Figaro.

“The Maître Coq was about how I felt compared to three years ago when I was bringing up the back of the fleet and had not a clue what was going on having had no coaching at all.”

“And so here I am. The speed is there, the decision making is not always there, the speed is not always there but the biggest challenge is still staying awake.” He smiles.

He is adamant: “ I am not addicted. This is my last attempt at La Solitaire, definitely. I need a big break from offshore racing I have done so much recently, it has been non stop and I need a break. I was coaching all winter. In fact, I have spent more time offshore than on land.”

But first, he has a goal in mind, “ I want to be in the high teens, 15th or thereabouts I hope is realistic. I am quite well set up. I have a great preparateur. Really this time I have no excuses. Three years ago I had not got a clue. I was saying, ‘I think I will do OK, I can sail offshore, I can race’ but I had had no training and really did not know what I was letting myself in for. Now this is me seeing what I can do with some coaching and the right things in place.”

Fogerty, a finish will be enough

Fogerty is very much an amateur ocean racer stepping into solo racing’s lion’s den for the first time. A 51-year-old whose business interests are in IT, Pharmaceuticals and property, Fogerty has raced most of offshore racing’s classics and is simply out to complete one of solo sailing’s toughest, unique challenges.

He explains, “My biggest goal is just to finish. But then I have met people who came in with the same idea and keep coming back, it seems to be slightly addictive when you get involved. It is very stressful and hard but when you walk away each time you think ‘well that was a lot of fun. I want to go back and do it again. And the more you do it the more you improve. I want to complete this race and then see what I do next. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. But then this is my own boat and so what I do with the boat next is my own decision.”

He continues, “ For me this race this is about personal challenge and enjoyment. I want to complete the race. I think there are three groups, top 10, 20s and the 30s and I’d like to be on the edge of 30s, trying not to be in the last four or five.

I tried to train in France early in the season but it was hard as I had to work and my French is not good at all. I struggled a little but Marcus has helped a lot. But to do this properly you need to immerse yourself in it, you have to live here. I don’t have that option.”

Published in Figaro
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Ireland’s Tom Dolan was in fine form last night (Friday) in Saint-Nazaire at the awards ceremony for the 52nd Solitaire du Figaro, winning the Vivi Trophy for the best-placed non-French skipper in the demanding fourth stage, and taking third place in the fleet of 34 boats. After the frustrations and setbacks of the earlier stages, Dolan found new reserves of performance and endurance within himself for the challenge of a long final race from Morlaix round the Fastnet Rock (where he was narrowly leading overall) and then southeast past western Brittany to the finish at Saint-Nazaire, where he’d staved off multiple challenges to hold onto third slot.

Such is the level of competition in the modern Figaro Solo that the Vivi Trophy - presented to the Figaro organisation by Marcus and Megan Hutchinson of Kinsale and Brittany - has become a coveted award in its own right, and this - together with the prized third place in the fourth and final stage - was a much-needed boost for the Dolan team.

Published in Tom Dolan

Tom Dolan with Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan threw aside the earlier frustrations of the Figaro Solo 2021 by taking third place at the conclusion of the final stage at the finish off St Nazaire tonight (Thursday). Having been in the lead in the turn at the Fastnet Rock a couple of days ago, Dolan has been in the unenviable position of fighting off challenges from the 33 other boats in mostly light winds which meant that, at any one time, it looked as though half a dozen other boats might have snatched his lead in their own private breezes.

Almost inevitably, Pierre Leboucher and Xavier Macaire took their chance when it was available, and were ahead coming into French waters and at the finish.

But In racing of remarkable intensity, the “Flying Irishman” managed to stave off the challenge for third place from his Transatlantic Race shipmate Gildas Mahe, and Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan was a heart-stopping two and a half minutes ahead crossing the line.

First Round the Fastnet Rock

After leading the 34 boat fleet around the Fastnet lighthouse at 0240hrs early on Tuesday morning, in dirty, wet and very dark conditions, Dolan,34, held out resolutely, duelling with Macaire down the 370 miles downwind passage to the finish line, finishing only 11 minutes and 40 seconds behind the French skipper Macaire– who finished runner up overall. Macaire crossed the finish line just over four minutes behind Stage 4 winner, French Olympian Pierre Leboucher (Guyot Environnement-Ruban Rose). The race’s longest leg, at 687 miles, started on Sunday from Roscoff and returns to Saint Nazaire where the race started on Sunday, August 22nd.

After a promising tenth on the first leg, Dolan had two finishes he was disappointed with, 22nd on Stage 2 and then Stage 3 into Roscoff stinging him most, not just with the resulting 19th place but losing another three hours on his rivals after becoming stuck in very light winds and a strong contrary current within sight of the finish line.

Joy in leg four for Dolan after disappointing legs two and three of the 2021 Figaro RaceJoy in leg four for Dolan after disappointing legs two and three of the 2021 Figaro Race

Dolan is placed provisionally 15th overall.

A tired but elated Dolan smiled, “It’s great to get that first podium on La Solitaire but the cherry on the cake was being first-round The Fastnet, that was a bit special for me. It was cool. I did really just stick to my plan in the English Channel I had seen there was more breeze in the west. And there was some herd mentality going on with everyone sticking together. I spent that whole night on my own not really knowing where anyone was in the thick fog then about six in the morning it got light and there was a break in the fog and I could see the whole fleet to windward.

Coming back it was tricky. I ended up sticking with Xavier a lot and I ended up being convinced I was furthest west and south. You have no AIS, nothing so on the Figaro you know nothing.

It ends the season on a high. It shows what I am capable of when I can get to the front. I feel great, just delighted. I am a bit tired, but I really feel good. I can’t wait for next year. I have to have more confidence in myself. The second leg I was just not good and into Roscoff it was bad luck, bad timing to get stuck like that.”

Published in Tom Dolan

The Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan is leading the 52nd La Solitaire du Figaro fleet towards the Fastnet Rock with high hopes that he will be able to stay in front and lead the 34 boat fleet round the iconic lighthouse around midnight local time tonight.

The skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan made a key move early this morning when he chose to stay west, close to the Scilly Isles where he found more wind and was able to accelerate ahead of his rivals, most of whom had stuck close to the Cornish coast.

Dolan, 34, from County Meath, has had a good record racing to the Fastnet in recent editions of the annual French multi-stage solo race. Last year he also led the race and rounded third, en route to finishing fifth overall.

After two disappointing stages to Lorient and Fécamp, Dolan is hoping he has saved his best for the last leg, a marathon 685 miles leg which started from Roscoff Sunday afternoon and should finish into Saint Nazaire on the French Loire-Atlantic coast late on Thursday.

With 70 miles to sail to the Fastnet, he was more than five miles clear of the next sailor, France’s Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) who led Dolan round the rock last year. Macaire, who lies second on the overall standings after three of the four stages, has been fast all afternoon and was closing miles on the Irish leader.

I was kinda expecting this ranking following my route to the west of TSS. I knew I was ahead but I didn't know by how much. It’s great to be in this position, especially when I feel like I’m heading homewards towards Ireland. I come from a small town which is in the northeast of Ireland, north of Dublin, almost on the border with Northern Ireland.” He told the race media team on board the guard boat,

Explaining his strategy he said, “I had seen from the files that it was more wind in the west, and that there was something to do. I lost everyone with the fog last night and the AIS not working. I had my doubts, I thought I was the only one going that way. But we have also Philippe (Hartz) and Maël (Garnier) I think it was them as I heard them talking in the radio. The Fastnet, I must have passed it about 50 times because I spent a lot of time in Baltimore, and we often went out there often.”

“Right now the sun is shining, it's great if a bit rare at this time of year. I'm afraid there won’t be much wind when I get to the lighthouse. This morning, I slept a lot and now I'm steering a lot to get to the Fastnet because I would like to get round before the bad wind arrives. I feel like I'm on the right timing I think, I have my fingers crossed, I might get some good luck from Ireland.”

In English Dolan said, “I am happy with my position at about 80 miles from the Fastnet, I think we will arrive there about midnight Irish time, it will be a bit of a pig because I was looking forwards to seeing Ireland, so I won’t see much of it this time around. I am happy to be going there just the same. The conditions are fairly good at the moment. I have around 20-24kts of wind and am under big spinnaker with a bit of swell over the back of the boat and I am pushing along at 12-13-14kts. I am happy with what happened. On the GRIB files I had seen there was a but more wind in the west and sailed very low and it seemed to work. I was a bit doubtful heading into the fog but here we are, voila, voila.

Tracker here

Published in Tom Dolan

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan was placing his faith in a slightly different, more westerly strategy as he left Morlaix Bay in north Brittany this afternoon at the start of a mammoth 685 miles final stage of La Solitaire du Figaro. The skipper of Smurfit Kappa - Kingspan, who lies 19th overall, had left the dock saying he expected to stick with the main group as much as possible on the 270 miles leg up to the Fastnet Rock.

“I have to be nice and patient and work hard on the climb north I would say. I am going very, very low risk on the way up, stay with the group as much as possible.” Dolan said.

After three nights of decent sleep, extended today as the start was delayed until 1600hrs this afternoon because of light winds, Dolan was in a positive frame of mind, looking forwards to seeing the Irish rock lighthouse close to where he started his sailing career as an instructor at Glenans in Baltimore, “I feel a lot better than when I came in here a few days ago. I have had some good rest and am ready for this. I often do quite well going out to the Fastnet, certainly it feels like going home even if it is only hearing the weather forecasts in a nice Irish accent and knowing the French guys won’t be understanding it! But I spent a number of happy years teaching at Glenans in Baltimore near the light. I don’t think there is any extra local knowledge I might have, it will be so light, and most of these guys have been out there a few times. But I feel good, light downwind I don’t seem to be too bad at. But I want to just stay with my ‘petits copains’ (friends) as much as I can and then see on the way back.”

Reviewing the complex weather picture Dolan concluded, “There will be a lot of downwind sailing and a lot of light wind sailing. Getting up to the Fastnet is not going to be that complicated and there might be a bit of a bend in the wind around Cornwall which you have to play right. There is not too much to be gained from splitting from the pack and taking big risks and a lot to be lost. If you are a little bit behind at the Fastnet that could turn into a big kicking, a big loss. There is a weird frontal system at the Fastnet which the first boast can get through with a nice big lead.”

The fourth and final stage of the race should finish in Saint Nazaire on the Loire-Atlantic coast late on Thursday.

Published in Tom Dolan

The disappointment was etched into Tom Dolan’s tired face as he docked Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan into Roscoff this afternoon at the end of a tough 624 miles Stage 3 of La Solitaire du Figaro.

Having been ninth at Bishop Rock, at the Scilly Isles yesterday afternoon Dolan crossed the finish line in 19th place more than three hours and 13 minutes after stage winner Pierre Quiroga.

The final night across the entrance to the English channel proved very tough and confounded many of the other top solo racers. The breeze was very unsettled in terms of wind strength and direction making it hard to maintain a rhythm. South of the Scillies, he lost places on the east side of the Traffic Separation Scheme exclusion zone around 0300-0400hrs early this morning when racing in a tight group and then tacked away with a group to the south in anticipation of an expected increase in the breeze and change in the wind direction.

His problems were compounded when the breeze dropped and the contrary tide started building within a few miles of the finish line, Dolan being stuck with a group of others trying to make the finish gun.

Dolan grimaced, "I feel a bit sickened really. I felt like I had sailed quite well until last night and one cross, just before the wind died and then I did not get going. It was a pretty brutal stage and right now I am pretty fed up, especially sitting out there for an extra three hours fighting the tide. I feel like I sailed better than that."

Published in Tom Dolan

Things had been looking good for Tom Dolan on Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan going into the final 120-mile Isles of Scilly to Roscoff leg of Stage 3 in the Figaro Solo 2021.

He’d worked his way up to 8th as they made their way in difficult winds across the English Channel, but with first one side of the fleet being favoured, and then the other, the Irish skipper seemed too often to be with the wrong group, until by the time he finished at 15.13.03 hrs French time this afternoon, he was back in 19th place in the 34-boat fleet. More detailed analysis from the Dolan Team here

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The Irish National Sailing and Powerboat School is based on Dun Laoghaire's West Pier on Dublin Bay and in the heart of Ireland's marine leisure capital.

Whether you are looking at beginners start sailing course, a junior course or something more advanced in yacht racing, the INSS prides itself in being able to provide it as Ireland's largest sailing school.

Since its establishment in 1978, INSS says it has provided sailing and powerboat training to approximately 170,000 trainees. The school has a team of full-time instructors and they operate all year round. Lead by the father and son team of Alistair and Kenneth Rumball, the school has a great passion for the sport of sailing and boating and it enjoys nothing more than introducing it to beginners for the first time. 

Programmes include:

  • Shorebased Courses, including VHF, First Aid, Navigation
  • Powerboat Courses
  • Junior Sailing
  • Schools and College Sailing
  • Adult Dinghy and Yacht Training
  • Corporate Sailing & Events

History of the INSS

Set up by Alistair Rumball in 1978, the sailing school had very humble beginnings, with the original clubhouse situated on the first floor of what is now a charity shop on Dun Laoghaire's main street. Through the late 1970s and 1980s, the business began to establish a foothold, and Alistair's late brother Arthur set up the chandler Viking Marine during this period, which he ran until selling on to its present owners in 1999.

In 1991, the Irish National Sailing School relocated to its current premises at the foot of the West Pier. Throughout the 1990s the business continued to build on its reputation and became the training institution of choice for budding sailors. The 2000s saw the business break barriers - firstly by introducing more people to the water than any other organisation, and secondly pioneering low-cost course fees, thereby rubbishing the assertion that sailing is an expensive sport.