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Wednesday is 'Green For Go' as Tom Dolan Embarks on Round Ireland Speed Record

2nd May 2023
Tom Dolan has advised of a 'Code Green' for his Round Ireland Speed Sailing Solo Record attempt

Tom Dolan has advised of a 'Code Green' for his Round Ireland Speed Sailing Record attempt from tomorrow morning, meaning a start off Dun Laoghaire within 24 hours.

Based on the latest weather forecast grids, the plan is to start on Wednesday, May 3, around 0600 (exact time to be confirmed) from the Dublin Bay starting line.

The current weather forecast files show the National Yacht Club sailor returning to Dublin on Saturday early morning.

You can follow Tom live using this tracker below and here and read his interview here

Tom will have a cameraman on-board who will not take part in any of the manoeuvres or tactics but will be recording as much of the World Record attempt for a one-hour-long documentary to be aired later in December!

After waiting in Greystones for ten days since his boat Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan arrived from its home in France, Dolan has been rewarded with a great weather window, winds of 25-30kts around the south of Ireland, but there is a danger that if he drops off the frontal weather system he could be left with little wind.

Dolan considers that if things go perfectly, he might be able to go under three days.

“If it is good is could be three days, and if it’s not, it could be six.” Smiles Dolan, “ But it looks good. There is a weather window which, if it works, means I could beat the record by a good bit and if it doesn’t work out, I would not get it by a lot.”

He will have to be on his game, pushing hard from the start line all the way through the first 24 hours of the clockwise circumnavigation.

“The start will be tricky. There is a trough moving south to north and the idea is to be staying with that to get strong SE winds the whole way, or three quarters of the way around. The longer you can stay in front of this front the better it will be.

With 25kts from the SE you can be straight line sailing all the way around to the north of Ireland.”

And while the weather modelling looks good on the westabout routing, the concern is the NE corner of Ireland to the finish line.

“ You don’t really know what we will get between Ireland and Scotland where there are strong tides. If it goes right to the routing, I would still have two days to sail 150 miles which is very, very doable.

The first 24 hours are critical, it will be windy from Tusker Rock to the Fastnet and beyond, 25 gusting to 30kts you will do the whole south coast of Ireland on one gybe and then the west coast on the other and the seas should be perfectly flat for a lot of the time.”

The 688 miles course requires Dolan to average more than 7.2kts. The course distance is very similar to a longer leg of La Solitaire du Figaro – the annual French pinnacle solo race.

“ It will be all about where to set the cursor, as the French say, it is different from racing like in the Solitaire. If it gets hairy around the Fastnet then I will ease back on the small spinnaker, for example and changing sails I will take it slightly easier but nor do you want to drop into cruising mode.

I will have two big spinnakers and two gennakers.” He explains.

He is very much in the zone now after a period of nervous tension on Tuesday,

“I was nervous yesterday, and now I am excited to be going. I am a bit nervous to be going out there on my own, you are pretty isolated in these conditions, 25-30kts under spinnaker. Racing you have boats around you, and it is safer. So it is all about setting the level right.

I won’t get much time sleep, the first 24 hours are really about pushing to stay ahead of that trough, that system, because if you drop off it, it would be hard. I can rest a bit after the SW coast and ahead of the front, but it will be a solid, hard first 24 hours.”

In order to comply with the rules of Irish maritime affairs prohibiting single-handed sailing for several years around Île Verte, the skipper will be accompanied by a media man, Romain Marie. Under no circumstances will the latter affect the performance of the boat, Dolan claims.

Dolan has agreed with the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) that he will attempt to break the 'Round Ireland Double-handed less than 40ft record'.

While the WSSC is not recording this as a solo attempt (as Dolan has a journalist onboard), Dolan says he is also seeking to set a 'faux record' by attempting to break the Belgian Michel Kleinjan's solo 2005 record time.

The course is approximately 700 miles long. 

Reference times are the 2005 solo record by Kleinjans aboard a Class40: 4 days, 1 hour and 53 minutes and 29 seconds and the doublehanded record set in 2020 by Pamela Lee and Catherine Hunt on a Figaro3 of 3 days, 19 hours, 41 minutes and 39 seconds.

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.