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Following last year’s performance of ‘Flying Irishman’ Tom Dolan and pioneering woman Joan Mulloy in their Solitaire du Figaro debuts, now the renowned solo offshore race is coming to Ireland.

The Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is set to return to Kinsale this summer for the first time since 2009 for its 50th gala edition, with a course that takes in a rounding of Fastnet Rock to Kinsale on the weekend of 8-9 June to end its first leg out of Nantes.

The racing fleet continues on a “marathon run” around the Irish coast through the Irish Sea, around the Isle of Man and back down the west coast of Great Britain to Roscoff in northern France.

Stage three is a loop of ‘La Manche’ back to Roscoff before the final stage, via Wolf Rock and the Isle of Wight, to Dieppe. In all the course covers 2,130 miles (not accounting for weather-related changes).

Tom Dolan has already pledged his return for his second Figaro, this time in his new Figaro 3 boat, while the presence of Joan Mulloy — Ireland’s first female entry in the race — will further buoy Irish interest in the challenge as it takes in our coast.

Dolan tells Afloat.ie that he is “itching to get going after three months of computers and meetings!”

Solitaire 2019 route

Race organisers add: 

The Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is set to enter a new era this year, with the introduction of the new Figaro Bénéteau 3 for the 50th edition of the annual solo sailing race. Starting from the French city of Nantes on June 2nd, 2,130 nautical miles of challenging offshore racing around some of Europe’s roughest waters await the Figaro skippers, including a return to Ireland with a stopover in Kinsale.

Owned and organised by OC Sport’s French subsidiary OC Sport Penduick, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is one of the world’s toughest sailing competitions. Fiercely competitive, the race is recognised as the unofficial world championship of solo offshore racing, with the course taking just over a month to complete. Requiring a unique skill set, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro pushes competitors to the edges of their physical and mental limits.

OC Sport Pen Duick Event Director Mathieu Sarrot commented: “This anniversary year of the Solitaire is set to be an historic edition and we are expecting a diverse fleet including previous winners and new comers to the new Figaro Bénéteau 3. This means the stakes will be high with everyone out to prove themselves in a new boat.

“On the water it will be particularly challenging,” Sarrot continued. “To be successful the competitors will need seasoned offshore experience as well as coastal knowledge. But also sheer grit and determination. With the ongoing support of our title partner URGO, it’s set to be an incredible 50th edition."

The fleet will start leg 1 under the striking bridge of Saint-Nazaire following a passage through the river Loire from the historic city of Nantes in Brittany. After rounding Île d’ Yeu, they will head across the Celtic Sea before passing the legendary Fastnet Rock and heading to the port of Kinsale, Ireland. At 500 nautical miles, the fleet will be immersed in a tough race from the off with a drag race through potentially choppy seas to keep the solo skippers on their toes before they arrive in Irish waters.

Speaking on behalf of the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business, Board Member Ciaran Fitzgerald and Chairperson Guny Patel commented: “Kinsale Chamber is delighted with the announcement that the 50th Anniversary of the prestigious La Solitaire Le Figaro yacht race has been awarded to Kinsale for June 2019.

“This is an amazing event for Kinsale to host and welcome back having hosted this world famous single handed race more than any Port over the 50 years of the race. Kinsale Chamber looks forward to welcoming the sailors and visitors for what will be an incredible spectacle on sea and land over the five days of the stopover. Congratulation to Enda O'Coineen and his team for bringing this event to Ireland.”

Expected to arrive in Kinsale on Wednesday 5th June, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro fleet will stay in Ireland until Sunday 9th June, when the skippers will set sail on the longest 630-nautical mile Leg 2 to Roscoff in northern Brittany. In a first for the Figaro fleet, this marathon stage will take the skippers along the stunning Irish coast and through the unpredictable, and at times dangerous, Irish sea before rounding the Isle of Man. A long descent along the rugged western Welsh coast, followed by a passage between Land's End and the Scilly Isles, before a crossing of the English Channel towards Roscoff will conclude what is sure to be a gruelling leg.

From Roscoff, the fleet will stay in the familiar waters of Brittany where they will tackle a 450 nautical mile coastal course that will require them to use all of their technical and tactical prowess in the strong tidal currents, before returning to Roscoff on Wednesday 19th June.

To end the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, the increasingly exhausted fleet have a double Channel crossing to contend with. At 500 nautical miles, the final leg will see the competitors leave Roscoff on Saturday 22nd June to head across the channel towards Land’s End via a starboard rounding of the south cardinal navigation mark off Portsall. From there, they will have to negotiate the difficult conditions along the south coast of England before skirting the Isle of Wight, and crossing back into French waters through one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. With fast depleting energy, the skippers will need to keep their wits about them as they head to a mark off Barfleur, before the final sprint into the Normandy fishing port of Dieppe.

The skippers are expected to arrive in Dieppe on Wednesday 26th June, with a non-points scoring postlogue race planned for Saturday 29th June allowing the public to see the new Figaro Bénéteau 3’s in action before the official prize giving where the winner of the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro will be crowned.

As many as 40 Figaro skippers are expected to compete in this 50th anniversary edition, including former winners alongside a plethora of young talent. At 2,130 nm, the 2019 Solitaire URGO Le Figaro course is one of the longest in race history and it will take everything in the skippers’ solo offshore arsenal to get them to the finish line.

With just over five months to go until the build-up begins in Nantes, the skippers will be using this valuable time to take delivery and train on their new Figaro Bénéteau 3’s. A full skippers line-up will be revealed in April.

La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro 2019 Schedule

May 27th: Arrival of the fleet in Nantes, France
June 2nd, Leg 1 start: Nantes, France – Kinsale, Ireland (via Fastnet Rock) – 500nm
June 9th, Leg 2 start: Kinsale, Ireland – Roscoff, France (via the Isle of Man) – 360nm
June 16th, Leg 3 start: Roscoff, France – Roscoff, France - 450nm
June 22nd, Leg 4 start: Roscoff, France – Dieppe, France – 460nm
June 26th: Anticipated arrival of first boats in Dieppe
June 29th: Postlogue and awards ceremony in Dieppe

Published in Solo Sailing

‘Flying Irishman’ Tom Dolan will join Royal St George Yacht Club members for brunch at the Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubhouse from noon this Saturday 19 January.

Tom was nominated for Irish Sailor of the Year 2017 and again in 2018, and his adventures feature prominently in the 2019 Afloat Irish Sailing Annual.

The France-based Irish sailing professional has been nicknamed ‘l’irlandais volant — or ‘the Flying Irishman’ — for his accomplishments in the challenging solo offshore Figaro race.

Tom will tell RStGYC members about his intense 2018 season which culminated in the Solitaire du Figaro, a story illustrated with slides and videos that he’s already brought around Ireland.

He will also elaborate on his plans for this year’s race with his new boat, the revolutionary foiling Beneteau Figaro 3, which he previously revealed in a talk at Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Cub earlier this month.

The offshore sailor’s visit comes after a welcome talk by Annalise Murphy last week, and should be of interest to sailors young and old alike.

The talk starts at noon sharp, with the usual George Brunch available from 11am to 2.30pm. There is no extra cost for the talk. To book call Laura in Reception at 01 280 1811.

Published in Solo Sailing

On Thursday 10th of January County Meath solo sailor Tom Dolan will be giving a short presentation on his 2019 racing season in support of the social enterprise 'Sailing into Wellness'

Sailing into Wellness is an award winning not for profit social enterprise, who exist to help people in their recovery from poor mental health and addiction in Ireland. Its co-founders, Colin Healy and James Lyons, will speak before Tom about how their sailing programme helps people in their recovery from poor mental health and addiction.

By focusing on a natural and healthy approach to improving mental health and well-being they have developed a sailing program that is both education and therapeutic. Now in their third year of operation SIW work with community organisations nationwide and run sailing activities on the East and South coast. It is their vision for Sailing Into Wellness to be an integral part of the fabric for recovery in Ireland.

Colin Healy is an expert by experience. During his personal battle with addiction and depression, he found sailing to have a substantial therapeutic value. James Lyons is one of Ireland’s most experienced sail training professionals, he has been safely teaching and guiding new sailors along Ireland’s Atlantic coast for 20 years 

Tom Dolan’s intense 2018 season, competing over an 8,000 mile racing circuit, culminated in the Solitaire du Figaro. This racing competition is widely considered as the highest level there is in singlehanded offshore sailing. Despite being his first Figaro season, Tom was on the podium in December at the Paris International Boat Show for his third place award in the Rookie section. Tom is here to tell us how it went, warts and all, and illustrating it with his revealing videos. 2018 had it all: Strong winds, intense moments, big waves and big upsets He will also reveal his plan for the Solitaire du Figaro 2019 with his new boat, the revolutionary Beneteau Figaro 3, and his longer term dreams. These include racing round the world and representing Ireland in the 2024 Olympics.

Tom’s success as a competitive solo sailor hasn’t blinded him to his Glenans training based on a love of the sea and the power of teamwork on a sailing boat to bring about the best in everybody. Hence his desire to support the work of Sailing into Wellness.

The show starts at 2000 at Ringsend Yacht & Boat Club. €5 entry in support of Sailing Into Wellness. All are welcome

Published in Solo Sailing

The sailing community’s notable diversity is dependent on how you’re trying to analyse it writes W M Nixon. For many, it’s the community aspect, the shared love of boats and sailing and interacting with sea or lake, which is the sport’s greatest appeal. But for others, the greatest attraction is because it’s a competitive vehicle sport.

In fact, it could be argued that a useful indicator of where you fit into the complex sailing world is your place along the boats-to-people continuum. At one extreme, there are those for whom the boat and her equipment is everything. And at the other end of this boats-to-people line, there are those for whom the successful interaction of the crew, the people management side, is paramount – organising the boat and dealing with her technical problems is something for specialized members of the team.

Not so long ago, while cruising the Hebrides, we met up with one of the purest boat nuts I’ve ever encountered, even if he did offset this tendency by using his superbly-maintained boat for very interesting projects.

We liked the look of his 34ft cutter, and as we were in a sublimely beautiful anchorage where no-one was in a hurry to move on in the morning, we inveigled an invitation aboard and were bowled over by the quality of everything on his boat, the maintenance, and the careful way it had been thought through to make his cruising as comfortable and practical as possible.

ainmara sula2 1“ Sailing” as its cruising participants like it – an idyllic summer morning in the Hebrides for the veteran Ainmara (left) and the superbly organised Victoria 34 cutter Sula. Photo: W M Nixon

For instance, he’d re-wired the boat completely by himself, and had done it in such a way that although everything seemed invisible and skilfully done, the simple opening of accessible locker doors in key areas revealed all the parts that needed to be easily reached.

It was a pure case of single-minded perfection, so much so that we were thinking of ways to entice him to Ireland some time to give our own boats the same treatment. But in his case, “single-minded” was the essence of it all. He’d once sailed alone in a Wayfarer from Scotland across the North Sea to Norway, but few knew of it because he did it for his own satisfaction – publicity wasn’t of interest to him.

And now, after we’d had coffee together, he was off across to Skye to climb in the Cuillins. On his own, of course, and using that perfect solo-sailed boat as a handy base camp. This was indeed a man who marched to the beat of a different drum. For our part, we were nipping across to Plockton on Loch Carron, a notably convivial place, to continue a cruise of sociable celebrations.

As far as we were concerned, this was cruising as it should be, and cruising lends itself to accommodating every level of direct or indirect boat technical involvement. However, cruising is a world in itself. But in racing, the fact of sailing being a vehicle sport immediately puts a wall between it and most other sports, particularly those stadium sports of greatest public interest.

americas 2013 cup3Is this sailing’s Formula 1? The America’s Cup boats of 2013 were foiling multihulls

next americas cup4The America’s Cup rings the changes – and whatever they are, they’re always expensive. The next series in New Zealand will be raced in 75ft foiling mono-hulls

So in trying to increase sailing’s public awareness, we quickly find people referencing Formula 1 car racing, and claiming that sailing will only find universal appeal if its major events are staged in the most spectacular boats available.

Certainly, this has long been the way of the America’s Cup. But that’s quite obviously a sailing spectacular for people to stare at in wonderment, rather than expect any sense or possibility of personal involvement.

However, the Olympics are different. Olympic sailing is arguably the kind of sailing we can do at club level but carried to the ultimate extremes of personal high performance. But is that necessarily the way that sailing should go? In a tech-obsessed era - a state we’ve arguably lived in since man chipped his first flint axe-head – there are those who would argue that the boats used in the Olympics should be at the furthest edge of technological development.

laser fleet5For club sailors, the fact that their popular Laser is an Olympic Class is seen as a bonus. But for the casual viewing public, could it possibly be that a large fleet of Lasers is not the most exciting or comprehensible sporting vista in the world?
This is their point in arguing that today’s boats are getting in the way of developing sailing’s popularity. In a sense, they argue that by using popular everyday boats for a television spectacular like the Olympics, the powers-that-be are making the images decidedly humdrum for an audience steeped in technological wizardry.

It’s an approach which came to a head a month ago when, thanks to the remarkably high Irish representation in the committees of World Sailing – a priceless inheritance from the determinedly internationalist days of Dun Laoghaire’s Ken Ryan – we were among the first to be able to report the confirmation about the inclusion of an offshore racer (to be crewed by a woman and a man) in the lineup for the 2024 Olympics at Paris, when the sailing will be at Marseille.

The boat proposed will be between 6 and 10 metres overall, and non-foiling. With the course planned to have them at sea for three days and two nights, it will be the longest event in the Olympics, and all boats will be connected for sound and vision 24/7, so the human interest levels should be very high indeed.

smurfit kappa6Tom Dolan with his Figaro 2 Smurfit-Kappa. This highly-regarded 2002 Marc Lombard design is now categorized by the builders as a “Heritage Boat”

This confirmation (at last) marked such a change to the Olympic sailing format that it provoked a considerable immediate reaction. But working on the policy that second thoughts are often best and usually less harmful, we persuaded some of our more outspoken reactors to tone it down a little with the promise that we’d keep them anonymous for the time being, and would publish after a reasonable interval.

However, now we’re in the buildup to Christmas when true sailors rely on the thought of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race to preserve their sanity in the midst of smothering seasonal cheer. So here’s something else altogether - shot from both barrels - to provide something similar:

“I am no doubtless connected with the ‘higher governance level’ of our beloved sport than yourself or others, but the ‘design’ brief of the intended boat for Paris 2024 Offshore event (quote:“…..boat which will be used, the length overall will be between 6 metres and 10 metres, definitely non-foiling, and currently talked of as sloop rig with spinnaker…”) shows, yet again, how out of touch World Sailing is with its own sport!

The IMOCA 60 Class is progressively shifting to foil (see Route du Rhum 2018) and the Mini 6.50 class rules now allow foils, wingsails and even kites, while the new America’s Cup boat won’t even have a keel but 2 foils (etc etc…there are many other examples). Thus the notion that ‘what the public wants to see in the Olympics are non-foiling monohulls of 6 to 10m LOA’ baffles me!!!

mini 650 foils7The Mini 6.50 class now permits foils, and even with three on board, the little boat lifts and flies
Paris won the 2024 Olympic Games. Sailing is one of the Olympic Sports. Olympic Sailing attracts very little spectators and/or much less TV audience than the ‘professionally organised circuits’ (Minis, Figaros, IMOCAs, big multihulls, Route du Rhum, Vendee Globe etc etc…).

The aim is to change this and for once, France as the organiser and for all sailing nations, may stand a chance to make some Olympic sailing look sexy! And as you mention, there already had been an attempt – scheduled for June 2018 – to preview a potential Olympic offshore race

Nicolas Hénard, President of the Federation Francaise de Voile, declared:

« …We are the nation of offshore sailing, we can’t afford to miss this (opportunity). This is why I am doing the forcing on this with the organisation of a showcase event in Marseilles in June (2018) in parallel with the finals of the Worlds Cup with five Figaro 3 on loan from Beneteau…”

Unfortunately, due to funding issues, this demo event was cancelled…but of course the demo support was the Figaro 3.

Staging a new Olympic discipline in 2024 on a boat that, though not yet selected, is already outdated in 2018 for the intended purpose is ludicrous.

This is even more so for the Figaro 2 as the article suggests, a boat launched in 2002 and classified on the Beneteau website itself under the heading ‘Heritage” 

Also, my understanding is that, for an Olympic sailing event, boats have to be supplied (I guess new?!) by the organisers…hardly Figaro 2s then…

The reality is that:
• The Figaro Class and Circuit is the ‘only game in town’ worldwide for an ‘affordable’ (€210k ex. VAT including sails, electronics and safety equipment), one-design, short-handed, offshore racing class
• The Figaro Class is moving to foiling from 2019 onwards with the F3 because this is:
◦ What the competitors (read athletes for the Olympics) want!
◦ What the sport, as an offshore discipline, is at…right now, let alone in 2024
◦ What the viewing public demands

figaro three8It could be argued that the foiling Figaro 3 is no longer an extreme concept, and by 2024 it may even seem a little dated
The current ’design brief’ of the World Sailing Equipment Committee for the new proposed event in Marseilles 2024 can only be explained by either

  • A complete misunderstanding of the sport (really?) or
  • Anything BUT a Beneteau Figaro 3 attitude resulting from pressure/lobbying from other National Sailing Federations or other boat manufacturers who do not have an ‘affordable’ one-design offshore sailing boat in production or even in draft (J Composite?) in an attempt to ‘not give an unfair advantage to French Figaro sailors starting on this support from March 2019!
  • If there are doubts that a new boat like the Figaro 3 will be available in sufficient number, FYI, Beneteau is rolling out one new Figaro 3 per week as we speak! That’s further good news, So the question for World Sailing is:
  • Do we specify the boat that’s required and expected (FYI, I do not have any interest whatsoever in Beneteau ?)?
  • Do we specify another one for political reasons and launch a new discipline in 2024 on an outdated support?

As for my ‘dream team’: Tom Dolan (French offshore circuit ‘veteran’, inc. Figaro circuit) and Annalise Murphy (3 Olympic campaigns by 2020, Moth sailor, Volvo Ocean Race veteran etc, would bring this event very much alive if they were racing a Figaro 3, or perhaps even its 2024 development.”

annalise murphy9

tom dolan10Dream team – Olympic Medallist Annalise Murphy and Figaro veteran Tom Dolan

Well, that’s telling it like it is – or might be. Instead of trying to minimise Olympic sailing’s vehicle sport aspect (which the 49er turns on its head anyway), World Sailing and the Paris/Marseille Olympics should go hell for leather for the most technologically-advanced yet economically-feasible boat possible.

It’s quite a challenge in itself. And if it seems a very long way from our agreeable meanderings about a perfect little cruising boat met with in the Hebrides, well, that’s the way it is – sailing is a very complex sport however you look at it.

Published in W M Nixon

2019 will be a year which will mark the 50th anniversary of the Figaro class, a class now recognised as the top level that there is in offshore sailing. And as Afloat.ie has been reporting from the Paris Boat Show, it's an exciting time for Irish involvement too.

The golden anniversary will be marked by an updating of the boat and following 15 years in service, the Beneteau Figaro 2 will be replaced by the super modern foiling Figaro 3. This levelling of the playing field has attracted almost many of the biggest names in sailing such as Frank Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux, Armel Le cléac'h and Loïck Peyron.

To guarantee sporting equality each skipper was attributed their boat by drawing numbers out of a bowl during a lottery draw which turned out to be quite a glamorous occasion. Tom Dolan, along with Joan Mulloy, were supported with an Irish contingent which included Jack Roy, president of Irish Sailing.

Olympics in sight

"I bagged number 8 which is good, the Chinese say it’s a lucky one" the young Meath man grinned. "now it's time to get to work and find the necessary finance for the next few years. It's great to be able to start fresh with a new boat against the biggest names in the sport, but as you can imagine it's a big financial investment which means borrowing the price of a fine house over a number of years, but it's like any business, you won't get far unless you take the odd risk. Right now I need to find 80K"

Dolan also talked about his future. “For now I really want to concentrate on the Figaro class for a number of years and arrive at a point where I can perform consistently alongside the best as I did during phases this year. This is key in preparing for a spot on the Irish boat in the 2024 Olympic Offshore Event, there is no better school.”

Read also: How Will an Irish Olympic Two-Person Offshore Campaign for France 2024 take shape?

Published in Figaro

Tom Dolan of Ireland had his hectic first year on the Figaro circuit during 2018 celebrated at the Paris International Boat Show over the weekend when he was on the podium for the National Championship Offshore awards writes W M Nixon.

The Meath man took third overall in the rookie division following his success in the Two-handed Transatlantic Race at the beginning of the season, and then in the Figaro series itself in September, he was well up the rankings overall with his boat Smurfit-Kappa, despite having to pull out of the first leg after a rigging spreader became detached. Once back in the race for the next three stages, he showed some very promising bursts of speed, and was at his best in the difficult stage from Portosin in Northwest Spain across the Bay of Biscay to St Gilles.

Among those in Paris in support of his achievement in being the first Irish sailor to make this particular podium was Irish Sailing President Jack Roy.

Published in Solo Sailing

Tom Dolan’s series of talks on his remarkable 2018 offshore season continues in Dublin at the National Yacht Club tomorrow evening, Tuesday 27 November.

Last week the Figaro debutante regaled the members of the Royal Cork in Crosshaven with tales of his adventures, including his performance in the Transat AG2R.

Tomorrow night promises more of the same, plus valuable insights into the world of offshore sailing.

Supper is served from 7.30pm with the talk proper from 9pm. For supper reservations call Tim or Louise at 01 2805725 or email [email protected] or [email protected]

Published in Offshore

The first in a series of talks delivered by offshore yachtsman Tom Dolan will take place at the Royal Cork Yacht Club on Tuesday 20 November.

Tom — who is in the running for 2018 Irish Sailor of the Year — will review the highlights of his 2018 season, including his performance in the Transat AG2R and his first participation in the challenging Figaro du Solitaire, and outline his plans for 2019 and beyond.

The versatile skipper promises video clips from this year’s racing season combined with plenty of weather and sailing tips.

And he will also try to give some helpful insights into the world of offshore sailing, with the aim of helping younger or aspiring helms.

Places are limited for the first two talks, at the Royal Cork and National Yacht Club (on Tuesday 27 November), and demand is expected to be high. There will be a small entry fee at both events in aid of Focus Ireland.

Booking information will be shared on Tom’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages from Monday 12 November after priority booking for sponsors and partners.

Details on future talks will be released in the coming weeks.

Published in Offshore

There were highs, lows, thrills and spills – but Tom Dolan has emerged from his first season in the ultra-competitive Beneteau Figaro class with his head held high as third overall rookie.

Despite only taking charge of his racing boat Smurfit Kappa a few weeks before racing it across the Atlantic in February, Dolan went on to string together an impressive set of results throughout 2018.

That put him firmly on the podium of the French Offshore Racing Championship in the rookie division for newcomers, an achievement few sailors can claim.

Such a finish in a class respected and feared for the calibre of its sailors is no mean feat – and after a short break to rest and recuperate the 31-year-old skipper is already looking ahead to 2019.

“It’s been a big year,” said Dolan, who hails from Kells in County Meath but lives in Concarneau, Brittany.

“I got chucked in at the deep end – I got the boat in February, went straight into a transatlantic race then straight from there into the Figaro season, so I had very little time to learn the new boat.”

Dolan came to the class from the Mini 6.50 circuit, where he raced 21ft ‘pocket rocket’ boats. At 32ft, the Beneteau Figaro is almost a third bigger – and significantly more powerful.

“It is a very different way of sailing to the Mini 6.50 and I had to adapt quickly,” Dolan said.

Adapt quickly he did, and by April Dolan was blasting his way across the Atlantic in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale with co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec.

An impressive 11th proved Dolan had what it takes to compete on such a cutthroat circuit, and so he set his sights on the season finale – the iconic Solitaire du Figaro – backed by eco-packaging giant Smurfit Kappa.

Starting the race as the top-ranked rookie Dolan was among the favourites for the newcomers’ title, but disaster struck an hour after the start when part of his rigging broke and he was forced to retire from the first of four legs.

Undeterred, Dolan fought his way back in the remaining three legs to secure third overall in the rookie division.

“Third rookie in the Solitaire du Figaro is a good end to the year,” Dolan said. “It could have been much worse, with the damage I sustained in the first leg. Yes, one leg went a bit pear-shaped, but I managed to make it up with the other three legs. It means I get a little something at the prize giving, and that’s nice. I learned a lot this year and I’m happy it was a success. It’s left me wanting more.”

Prior to the 2019 season kicking off, Dolan has been imparting his knowledge to the Concarneau-based sailors following in his Mini 6.50 footsteps.

He will also be recounting his adventures to audiences in Ireland, at Royal Cork Yacht Club on November 20, the National Yacht Club in Dublin on November 27 and Poolbeg Yacht Club in spring next year, as well as giving motivational talks to businesses.

“Since the end of the race I’ve managed to get in a good bit of rest,” Dolan said.

“I took a week or two off and then I did some work coaching and training. Up until Christmas, I’m coaching the group up in Concarneau who are preparing for the next Mini Transat. I’ll also be talking about my adventures over the past few years in Cork and Dublin and I’ll also be doing some motivational speaking.”

2019 holds more excitement for Dolan including a stacked racing calendar in a new boat.

Tom Dolan is shortlisted for the Irish Sailor of the Year Award, read more in WMN Nixon's preview here

Published in Figaro

Tom Dolan of County Meath racing Smurfit Kappa took the coveted Top Rookie spot after a worthwhile little breeze finally spread in over the calm-bedevilled Figaro fleet last night as they raced Stage 3 from Northwest Spain, bringing leader Sebastien Simon towards the finish at Saint Gilles at 0540 hrs local time this morning.

For a boat with the speed potential of a Figaro 2, the winner's time of just under 3 days and 16 hours for a 410–mile stage is slow and challenging going, and keeping up the pace single-handed through four nights at sea was a ferocious test.

Tom Dolan RookieThe Irish solo sailor crossed the finish line in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie early this morning (September 12) after more than three and a half-days of intense boat-on-boat racing to claim 11th place overall in the 36-strong single-handed fleet and the coveted Solitaire first-timer leg trophy

After playing cat-and-mouse with the fleet for most of yesterday with frustrating breezes and the threat of total calm, the wind Gods finally relented last night. The final 50 miles were in a basically nor’east breeze which brought the leader Sebastien Simon towards the final turn at Ile d’Yeu at 0315 hrs at up to 7 knots, but local light spots at the island saw his speed drop back at times to 4 knots. However, his rate of progress picked up again in the final leg to Saint-Gilles, and now with sheets freed it was a matter of staying between the next boat and the line for the concluding two and a half hours to the finish.

The pre-Ile d’Yeu buildup to this procession had seen Ireland’s Tom Dolan in 9th, but where Sebastien Simon had judged the long close-haul to the north point of Ile d’Yeu to perfection, many other hadn’t been able to, and had to take a short tack to get round the island turn. One of these was Tom Dolan, and he slipped from 9th to 11th. But by maintaining this position in the straight line race to the finish, he came in at 11th as Top Rookie by a comfortable margin, a position which was confirmed with enthusiastic acclaim when he crossed the line with an elapsed time of 3 days 16 hours and 12 minutes – in other words, about a quarter of an hour astern of Sebastien Simon.

Meawhile Ireland’s other entry - and also a Rookie – is Joan Mulloy of Mayo racing Taste the Atlantic. Though she finished at 06:37:38 well up with the main group, the pace is so intense that this gave her 31st overall. At the Figaro level, having five boats astern of you at the finish is a real achievement, and Mulloy has impressed with her determination and dedication. 

Race tracker here

Published in Figaro
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