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Dolan & Foxall Team Up As All-Irish Challenge For Figaro Season Opener

13th March 2019
Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall will race the new Figaro Beneteau 3 Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall will race the new Figaro Beneteau 3

Tom Dolan will form an all-Irish partnership with the vastly experienced Damian Foxall for the first race for the new Figaro Beneteau 3, the Sardinha Cup which starts on March 27th.

After last year’s promising first season in the Figaro one design class, finishing third rookie overall, Dolan has embraced the circuit’s change to the brand new foiling Figaro Beneteau 3, and has spent recent weeks learning how to make the new boat sail fast.

Ten times round the world sailor, a winner of the crewed Volvo Ocean Race and the two-handed Barcelona World Race round the world, Foxall cut his teeth in the solo and short-handed world in the Figaro class in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He became was the first even non-French skipper to win a leg of La Solitaire du Figaro and who finished top rookie in 1997.

The decision to move to the new foil-assisted, faster and more responsive Figaro 3 has proven a magnet to many of the top French ocean racing stars such as Loick Peyron, Michel Desjoyeaux, and Charles Caudrelier as well as three times La Solitaire winners Jérémie Beyou and Yann Eliès.

Dolan received his new Figaro 3 on January 25th and had his first training sessions in February coached by Tanguy Leglatin and Gildas Mahe. “To be honest the training has been going very well.” Said Dolan, who hails from Kells in County Meath but lives in Concarneau.

“We have been among the fastest boats on the water. But like everyone we need to work hard on the manoeuvres. That is where the biggest losses are right now.”

Dolan adds: “It is great to have Damian with me. He is very calm on the boat and his experience is obvious but one of the most important learnings for me has been organisation, discipline and attention to detail, how to run a programme. He has been giving me a bit of a push in that direction and it makes a real difference in terms of confidence in yourself and the programme.”

“But besides all that, we have a good craic together and I have long since forgiven Damian for his County Kerry roots.”

Foxall is delighted to be back in France among many of his Figaro counterparts, French sailors who have remained friends and rivals over the 20 years, and loving the challenge of scaling the Figaro 3 learning curve as fast and efficiently as possible with his fellow countryman Dolan.

“Being on the dock here in Lorient it feels like only yesterday when I was here in my Figaro years. It is fantastic. There is the same kind of sensation with some of the best offshore racers in the world here. It is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase Irish sailing.” Foxall smiles.

“Tom has been here in France and doing it for a few years and he is well integrated with the sailors here and he is doing well. Here we have top guys like Charles Caudrelier and Alain Gautier and we are holding our place at the top of the fleet.”

Published in Tom Dolan
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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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