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Tom Dolan Starts Transat en Double in Top Ten

13th May 2021
Tom Dolan is weather boat (FRA 44 Breizh Cola on mainsail) in last night's start of the Transat en Double from Concarneau
Tom Dolan is weather boat (FRA 44 Breizh Cola on mainsail) in last night's start of the Transat en Double from Concarneau

Tom Dolan and Glldas Mahé are lying seventh in the 18-boat Transat en Double Concarneau-Saint Barthélemy after last night's start of the postponed fixture.

Dolan's prediction that the first stage of the race will be key has proved correct as the fleet moves towards Cape Finisterre this morning.

Following a postponed start, moved to this Wednesday evening at 1900hrs local time from last Sunday because of stormy conditions on the Bay of Biscay, the Irish Sailor of the Year and his ace French co-skipper Glldas Mahé were in a buoyant mood as they made their final preparations for the Transatlantic race from Brittany to the Caribbean.

“I can’t wait to be going, I really can’t. It was great to have been actually at my own home in Concarneau these last few days waiting for the weather to change, it makes a real difference, but now we are ready to go and get on with it.” Says Dolan. “Let’s be clear though I am not taking this race lightly. I never forget how lucky I am to be here. I am lucky to be here with this boat and to be racing with someone like Gildas so you can be sure I will be making the absolute most of it.”

With the passage of the past days, the weather picture on the Bay of Biscay has changed considerably since Sunday’s feisty outlook. The conditions will still be brisk for the first few hours on Biscay but there are now fewer strategic options when it comes to the passage of a new low pressure moving west to east across the path of the 18 boat fleet at Cape Finisterre.

Dolan summarises, “The first key stage will be the Bay of Biscay, negotiating the low pressure which will complicate the course towards Cape Finisterre. Now we are going round the west of it but there will be fewer options here and so I can’t see the fleet spreading out here. We arrive at Cape Finisterre with a new low pressure coming in. The negotiation of that, a shift in the wind to the left and then the big shift to the right in wind direction will be key, inside or outside the Traffic Separation Scheme – an exclusion zone at Cape Finisterre – and after that there is a dying undulating front which comes across the zone and so you have to be careful not to be caught there. At Cape Finisterre, the timing of the wind shifts is key and not getting eaten by the light winds at the second front. And tonight can be interesting.”

Tom Dolan estimates it will take six and a half days of sailing to the waypoint at the Canary Islands for an overall passage of 17-18 days duration.

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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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