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Tom Dolan Now 10th Heading Into Figaro’s Second Leg After Protest Committee Call

5th September 2020
Tom Dolan has received a welcome boost heading into the second stage from Sunday Tom Dolan has received a welcome boost heading into the second stage from Sunday Credit: Alexis Courcoux

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan is now in an even stronger position heading into the second leg of La Solitare du Figaro, after the protest committee’s strike against two higher-placing finishers from Thursday (3 September).

Both Tanguy Le Turquais and Frederic Duthil incurred five-minute penalties for failing to pass the cardinal mark, which brings Dolan up two places in the race standings from 12th to 10th, while British sailor Sam Goodchild (Leyton) rises to ninth.

Thursday’s original placing was already Dolan’s best result since the Figaro circuit switched to the faster and lighter Beneteau Figaro 3 last year, and he was only minutes shy of the top 10.

But the lift into the upper echelon will surely be an added boost to the 33-year-old Meath native as he readies his Smurfit Kappa yacht for the second stage — from the Baie de Saint Brieuc, via Plymouth, to Dunkirk — starting at 11am local time tomorrow, Sunday 6 September.

The course has been shortened due to forecast light winds for the upwind sail across the Channel, in order to ensure enough recovery days before the third stage next Saturday 12 September.

Commenting on his promotion up the standings, Dolan said: “To be honest it is nice to be up to 10th but in real terms it means nothing really as the fellow behind be is only a minute behind and then there are five guys within two minutes of me. So as ever it is a bit like a restart.

“You just have to take each leg as it comes. But for sure I’d rather be in 10th than 30th.”

I have worked hard for the result even if I maybe did not expect to be doing so well

Regarding the changed course for stage two, he said: “This will be a bit of a speed leg, there might be some tactics in the English Channel going across to Eddystone and then it is downwind speed. I think my downwind speed is good.”

Racing strategy aside, Dolan will also be paying heed to the logistics of life on board after losing water from his drinking containers in the past stage.

“I drank ten litres of water in the last 24 hours to get rehydrated. I won’t be making that mistake again but everything is good now. I feel great.”

As for the challenge that lies ahead? Dolan is confident but circumspect.

“I don’t think anything has been written yet,” he said. “There are a bunch of good guys behind me so it will be difficult and there will be a lot of changes yet.

“It should be a good leg with 20-25 kts on the downwind, plenty of wind going in to Dunkirk. There will be a few opportunities, I think positioning is the key in the Channel and then on the way down to Dunkirk.

“It is going to be interesting and for sure nice to be going into it in a decent position. I have worked hard for the result even if I maybe did not expect to be doing so well. But it gives me confidence but I’m keeping focused, not getting over-excited; there is such a long way to go.”

This story was updated on Saturday evening 5 September with additional details and comment.

MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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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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