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Tom Dolan Finishes Tenth in Stage One of Figaro Solo

26th August 2021
Tom Dolan Finishes Tenth in Stage One of Figaro Solo
Tom Dolan Finishes Tenth in Stage One of Figaro Solo

Localised wind shifts in the finishing sections of Stage 1 of the Figaro Solo 2021 at Lorient this morning saw Tom Dolan in Smurfit Kappa - Kingspan being pipped for ninth place by one minute by female skipper Elodie Bonafous racing Bretagne - CMB Oceane. After being in or around 16th place for much of the first half of the race out to the turning mark off Spain, Dolan revelled in the sometimes rugged windward conditions coming back across the Bay of Biscay towards the Loirent finish, and at one stage he was pacing so well that he was being recorded as lying seventh.

However, with his immediate competitors including the likes of proven performer Alexis Loison, it was all he could do to maintain his placing rather than move even further up the rankings, and some difficult tactical challenges saw Loison slip through to finish sixth, while Dolan’s Transatlantic shipmate Gildas Mahe in Breizh Cola also got away to finish seventh. The battle for 8th was then between Gaston Morvan, Elodie Bonafous and Tom Dolan, and just 1 minute and 20 seconds covered the finish times of the three boats, but it was Tom Dolan who’d drawn the short straw.

Up at the front of the fleet, however, things were rather different with winner Xavier Macaire taking it by 43 minutes clear from Pierre Quiroga in Skipper Macif 2019, with Tom Laperche in CMB Performance 41 minutes further astern in third.

On the dock in Lorient this morning a tired but content Dolan said, “Tenth is a good result. The group of boats behind me split in two and I didn’t know which to cover. One group got past, but apart from that, it was good. I had fairly good boat speed upwind and I chose the right tacks and stuck to the plan and it worked well. It was cool to be alongside Gildas Mahé as we train together. A pity I didn’t catch him, but I’ll get him next time. For me, it was important not to knock myself out on the first leg as that would mean spending your time trying to catch up. Time-wise, I am in touch with everyone, apart from Xavier. Mentally I was good and never cracked even after the bad start. I was pleased with the speed. It was good fun in the waves and gusts of thirty knots and some extreme broaches. There was a full moon, so that was good fun. I had the mast nearly in the water twice. It was not the hardest leg we’ve done. Upwind it was OK. We just had to trim the sails now and again and try to decide where to go.”

Ireland’s Tom Dolan finished 10th into Lorient this morning concluding the first stage of La Solitaire du Figaro with a result which matches his 10th place in 2020 when he finished fifth overall at the end of the three stages. The skipper of Smurfit Kappa- Kingspan was 17th in the 34 boat fleet when they rounded the La Coruna buoy, the midpoint of the 627 miles course but made good gains with excellent upwind boat speed. Ireland’s Tom Dolan finished 10th into Lorient this morning concluding the first stage of La Solitaire du Figaro with a result which matches his 10th place in 2020 when he finished fifth overall at the end of the three stages. The skipper of Smurfit Kappa- Kingspan was 17th in the 34 boat fleet when they rounded the La Coruna buoy, the midpoint of the 627 miles course but made good gains with excellent upwind boat speed. 

Tracker chart here

Published in Tom Dolan, Figaro
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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