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Irish Solo Sailor Tom Dolan Prepares for Challenging Final Stage of La Solitaire du Figaro Race

10th September 2023
Tom Dolan at the prize-giving ceremony for the second leg of the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec 2023 in Morlaix Bay - Roscoff on 08/09/2023 - VIVI Trophy rewards the foreign skipper (of all nationalities) with the best ranking on this second leg
Tom Dolan at the prize-giving ceremony for the second leg of the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec 2023 in Morlaix Bay - Roscoff on 08/09/2023 - VIVI Trophy rewards the foreign skipper (of all nationalities) with the best ranking on this second leg Credit: Alexis Courcoux

Irish sailor Tom Dolan is preparing for the final stage of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, bracing himself for another bout of light winds that could present a significant challenge.

Dolan, who sails for Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan, had a disappointing second stage of the race, falling from first to 19th place after being becalmed for 16 hours before the finish in Roscoff.

Despite his setback, Dolan remains positive and aims to finish the race on a high note. He acknowledges, however, that his chances of finishing on the overall podium are slim, as he currently sits 15 hours and 13 minutes behind race leader Basile Bourgnon of France.

The final stage of the race has been shortened due to predicted light winds, with the 32-boat fleet now covering a distance of 470 miles instead of the planned 630 nautical miles. The course will take them to a mark on the French Atlantic coast between Arcachon and the mouth of the Gironde river, where Bordeaux sits.

Dolan is expecting a challenging race, with light, flukey winds and a ridge of high pressure to navigate. He is hoping to be the first to get across the ridge, giving him an advantage over his rivals. However, he acknowledges that the course will be complicated, with a mix of land and sea breezes, currents, and calm areas to navigate.

Despite the challenges, Dolan is determined to focus on the process, taking each leg of the race as it comes and not being emotional. He admits that he is a bit tired, having only had two nights in a bed, but he is looking forward to the race and expects to have little sleep due to the stop-start nature of the race.

The leaders are expected to arrive in Piriac-sur-Mer on Thursday, and Dolan will be hoping to secure a podium finish in the final stage of the race.

Published in Tom Dolan, Figaro

Tom Dolan's Round Ireland Speed Record Bid Live Tracker

Follow Tom Dolan (and his onboard media man) during his Round Ireland Speed record attempt in the live tracker below.

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.

The exact time Dolan must beat for the double-handed record is Thursday, 2 November 2023, 11:32:12

The exact time Dolam must beat for the solo (faux) record is Thursday, 2 November 2023, 17:44:02

Check out all Afloat's regular Tom Dolan updates on the record bid right here 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.