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A Full Irish; The Perfect Build Up As Dolan Starts La Solitaire Final Leg

4th September 2022
Tom Dolan was fourth to the first mark around a short, but very tricky, tidal coastal course
Tom Dolan was fourth to the first mark around a short, but very tricky, tidal coastal course Credit: Alexis Courcoux

A full Irish breakfast cooked in the early morning by his partner seemed to do the trick for solo sailor Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) as he made probably his most assured, confident start yet of his La Solitaire du Figaro career. The French-based sailor was fourth to the first mark around a short, but very tricky, tidal coastal course as the 32-boat fleet left Royan at midday Sunday for the final 640 nautical miles stage to Saint Nazaire at the entrance to the Loire estuary.

After five miles Dolan was still fifth as the fleet headed south on a light spinnaker run towards a buoy off Arcachon - just south of Bordeaux, and at 1600hrs local time France Sunday, he was just 0.2 of a mile behind the early leader Guillaume Pirouelle (Region of Normandy).

The first 61 miles leg to the Arcachon mark is followed by a 250 miles sail across the Bay of Biscay to Farallones just by Dijon on the Spanish north coast. From there it is expected to be a fast, hard downwind sail to the final finish line. The Irish skipper was relishing the downwind stage under gennaker as it is his strongest point of sail.

Published in Tom Dolan
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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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