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Solo Sailor Tom Dolan is Top Rookie at Stage 3 Finish of Solitaire URGO Figaro 2018

12th September 2018
Tom Dolan has achieved a clear win in the First Timers section in the 410-mile Stage 3 of Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, taking eleventh overall just 15 minutes behind the leader after 3 days and 16 hours of racing Tom Dolan has achieved a clear win in the First Timers section in the 410-mile Stage 3 of Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, taking eleventh overall just 15 minutes behind the leader after 3 days and 16 hours of racing

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 Tom Dolan
WM Nixon

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WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Tom Dolan, Solo Offshore Sailor

Even when County Meath solo sailor Tom Dolan had been down the numbers in the early stages of the four-stage 2,000 mile 2020 Figaro Race, Dolan and his boat were soon eating their way up through the fleet in any situation which demanded difficult tactical decisions.

His fifth overall at the finish – the highest-placed non-French sailor and winner of the Vivi Cup – had him right among the international elite in one of 2020's few major events.

The 33-year-old who has lived in Concarneau, Brittany since 2009 but grew up on a farm in rural County Meath came into the gruelling four-stage race aiming to get into the top half of the fleet and to underline his potential to Irish sailing administrators considering the selection process for the 2024 Olympic Mixed Double Offshore category which comes in for the Paris games.

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