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Disappointed Tom Dolan Rues Weak Starts But Remains Positive

1st September 2021
Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan arrives in Fécamp
Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan arrives in Fécamp

It was a tired, disappointed but totally objective Tom Dolan who arrived in Fécamp, France this morning in 22nd place at the end of a tough 490 miles Leg 2 of La Solitaire du Figaro which started on Sunday afternoon from Lorient in Brittany.

Dolan was on the back foot all the way through the leg after being unable to hold his own off the start line and around intense four-leg circuit designed to give spectators a sight of the action before the 34 boat fleet leaves for the open sea.

A small deficit to the leaders opened further in the English Channel and this morning finished 3 hours and 34 minutes behind the stage winner Pierre Quiroga. After a solid 10th on the first leg Dolan now lies in 17th, two seconds ahead of his British rival Alan Roberts.

“Look we are halfway in and there is a long, long way to go.” Dolan remarked, “I am paying a price for my starting. I suppose that it was easier last year when we just left and were straight into it because of the health situation.” He commented on the dock in Fécamp, “I made a mess of the start and then for the first 12 hours I was not that good and from there it was generally a rich get richer situation. You forget how harsh the English Channel is when you end up nearly a tide behind. You get further and further back and when the tide changes from the west you get worse. I was sailing straight at the buoy on the first leg to Rochebonne and that did not seem to work. I passed some boats and some passed me but so much is down to the start. I was blessed last year because of the health situation there was no inshore courses and we just left every time. I am a bit disappointed to be honest, but in terms of how far I am behind the leader, I did think it would be a lot worse. So I need to be more careful and get going at the start. And I have water all over the place inside the boat. My starboard side foils is wobbling all over the place and I was definitely quicker on one tack than the other. I was not so worried about losing a couple of boats coming in, this is all about the big picture, aggregate time.”

Dolan and the 33 other skippers have three days to rest up before Stage 3 starts on Sunday.

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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