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Encouraging Second Place for Tom Dolan in the Drheam Cup in the Figaro Duo Class

22nd July 2020
 François Jambou (left) and Tom Dolan were second in the Drheam Cup Figaro Duo class François Jambou (left) and Tom Dolan were second in the Drheam Cup Figaro Duo class Credit: via Facebook

Ireland’s solo racer Tom Dolan gave his hopes for this year’s La Solitaire du Figaro solo offshore race a significant boost when he and French co-skipper François Jambou finished second overall on Smurfit Kappa in the Figaro duo class of the 428 nautical miles Drheam Cup yesterday.

For most of the race, the Irish/French duo enjoyed a spirited match race against the eventual category winners, French 2012 Olympian Pierre Leboucher sailing with Benoit Mariette, and finished less than five minutes behind the class victors.

Dolan and Jambou were eighth across the finish line overall in the Figaro class which was won outright by Briton Sam Goodchild.

Dolan was pleased with the Smurfit Kappa duo’s race and the result, atoning for a disappointing light wind Maitre-CoQ solo offshore race two weeks ago when he finished mid-fleet.

“I am pretty happy. We sailed well. We went the right way all of the time and stuck to the roadbook, our strategy, and that paid off. We were quick enough all the time and that augers well for the future. I have sailed with François eight or ten times now and so we are a good team.” Smiled Dolan at the finish in La Trinite.

The course took the fleet from Sunday’s start off Cherbourg-Cotentin north across the Channel, turning west to Wolf Rock then south to La Trinite.

“I am especially pleased because the race was a complete test starting out in light winds, with some stronger spells with some upwind and downwind but lots of reaching when you have to be fast. We started badly – again – but worked our way up through the fleet progressively and then held our own. We had a little bit of an error during the second night when we were working to keep a boat in check which we thought was Leboucher but the lights were those of a different boat.” Dolan recalled, “But the key takeaway from this is that the course was like a leg of the Solitaire and we did well enough, certainly I am a bit more confident than after the Maitre-CoQ.”

"Need to check for damage after hitting an unidentified object during the race"

“The game was played on the first night really when the wind came from the east towards the end of the crossing of the Channel and we were to the right of the fleet and so that was good and paid off. Then we stuck to the strategy, to the roadbook I had prepared, and raced the boats around us. That is a good lesson in itself.”

Racing with the Mini Transat winner Jambou, the duo elected to put in some time now to enhance their prospects for next year’s two handed Transat AG2R, Transatlantic. And Dolan is preparing to diversify his programme towards selection for Ireland for the 2024 Olympics’ mixed offshore racing. The race also represent a gilt edged opportunity to run what will be part of this summer’s La Solitaire course.

On returning to base today (Wednesday) Dolan will have the Figaro Beneteau Smurfit lifted out of the water to check for damage after hitting an unidentified object during the race.

“It is a little bit of a worry because in terms of repairs and preparation I am just working myself at the moment with no help. But there is no sign of damage to the inside skin of the boat so I am hoping it will be OK.” Dolan concluded.

Published in Tom Dolan, Figaro
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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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