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Patient Tom Dolan Starts Final Stage of La Solitaire du Figaro in 19th Overall

12th September 2021
Ireland's Tom Dolan is expected to return to the Fastnet Rock this week in the final stage of the 2021 Figaro solo race
Ireland's Tom Dolan is expected to return to the Fastnet Rock this week in the final stage of the 2021 Figaro solo race Credit: Alexis Courcoux

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan was placing his faith in a slightly different, more westerly strategy as he left Morlaix Bay in north Brittany this afternoon at the start of a mammoth 685 miles final stage of La Solitaire du Figaro. The skipper of Smurfit Kappa - Kingspan, who lies 19th overall, had left the dock saying he expected to stick with the main group as much as possible on the 270 miles leg up to the Fastnet Rock.

“I have to be nice and patient and work hard on the climb north I would say. I am going very, very low risk on the way up, stay with the group as much as possible.” Dolan said.

After three nights of decent sleep, extended today as the start was delayed until 1600hrs this afternoon because of light winds, Dolan was in a positive frame of mind, looking forwards to seeing the Irish rock lighthouse close to where he started his sailing career as an instructor at Glenans in Baltimore, “I feel a lot better than when I came in here a few days ago. I have had some good rest and am ready for this. I often do quite well going out to the Fastnet, certainly it feels like going home even if it is only hearing the weather forecasts in a nice Irish accent and knowing the French guys won’t be understanding it! But I spent a number of happy years teaching at Glenans in Baltimore near the light. I don’t think there is any extra local knowledge I might have, it will be so light, and most of these guys have been out there a few times. But I feel good, light downwind I don’t seem to be too bad at. But I want to just stay with my ‘petits copains’ (friends) as much as I can and then see on the way back.”

Reviewing the complex weather picture Dolan concluded, “There will be a lot of downwind sailing and a lot of light wind sailing. Getting up to the Fastnet is not going to be that complicated and there might be a bit of a bend in the wind around Cornwall which you have to play right. There is not too much to be gained from splitting from the pack and taking big risks and a lot to be lost. If you are a little bit behind at the Fastnet that could turn into a big kicking, a big loss. There is a weird frontal system at the Fastnet which the first boast can get through with a nice big lead.”

The fourth and final stage of the race should finish in Saint Nazaire on the Loire-Atlantic coast late on Thursday.

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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