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Tom Dolan Staying 'Mentally Focused' as Gales Cancel First Solo Races of 2023

13th March 2023
Ireland's Tom Dolan competes in the Solo Maître CoQ with two short coastal races before Thursday's long offshore
Ireland's Tom Dolan competes in the Solo Maître CoQ with two short coastal races before Thursday's long offshore Credit: Vincent Olivaud

After Monday's severe gales which buffeted the French Vendee coast to keep Ireland's Tom Dolan and the 29 other solo skippers tied to the dock in Les Sables d'Olonne unable to race, a proposed new programme for the Solo Maître CoQ has been announced by Race Direction.

The plan is to try and do a 16.5 nautical miles loop off Les Sables d'Olonne Tuesday if the winds and seas have dropped enough; planned starting time is 1400hrs local time.

Dolan, skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan commented “The situation is quite complex. The wind is expected to ease tomorrow morning but a five-metre swell is predicted and could make it difficult to get out of the channel out of Les Sables d'Olonne. We will know very soon though as we get out from the protection of the breakwaters."

He continues, “If it's not possible tomorrow I am sure it will be better Wednesday when Race Direction plan a coastal race of 15.2 miles at 1100hrs before the start of the big race scheduled for the next day at 1200hrs. It would be really nice to be able to get these two inshore courses away because that is what is different and important about this Solo Maître CoQ, it tests coastal and offshore racing."

“This is an important event for me, the first of the season. I have had problems here with the last few editions of this event, and so I have to work on my mental condition, just really concentrate on what is important and not make mistakes. I try to be really, really focussed on the weather strategy, my navigation and, how I am sailing, where I am relative to the fleet, but to not think about ‘what ifs’ or think about messing it up, what happened last time.” explains Dolan.

“But I don’t feel any pressure really, I try to think only about my sailing. My inshore sailing is better than it has been. Offshore I know this race course by heart so It does not hold any secrets by now.” Dolan contends.

This 20th edition of Solo Maître Coq has attracted 30 entries and is the first solo race of the season for the Beneteau Figaro 3 fleet on the French Elite Solo Ocean Racing Championship.

Published in Tom Dolan Team

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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.