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Tom Dolan Heads North in Second Round Ireland Speed Sailing Record Bid

29th October 2023
Tom Dolan crosses the Round Ireland Speed Sailing Record line between the East Pier Light at Dun Laoghaire Harbour and the Kish Lighthouse (above on Dublin Bay) on his second record attempt this year
Tom Dolan crosses the Round Ireland Speed Sailing Record line between the East Pier Light at Dun Laoghaire Harbour and the Kish Lighthouse (above on Dublin Bay) on his second record attempt this year Credit: Afloat

Day One (start): Just coming up to 4pm on Sunday, 29th October 2023, Ireland's leading solo sailor, the French-based Tom Dolan, embarked on his latest adventure to round Ireland in under four days and break the 2020 doublehanded record according to the bid lodged with the World Speed Sailing Record Council. He is also attempting what he describes as a 'faux' solo record.

The wait is over, and at 1500 hours and 50 minutes and 33 seconds, Dolan headed north, leaving behind the starting line between Dún Laoghaire harbour and the Kish lighthouse to establish a new time for the fastest sailing time around Ireland.

Fast sailing - Tom Dolan made a great start to his Round Ireland record bid off Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatFast sailing - Tom Dolan made a great start to his Round Ireland record bid off Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Before the start, Dolan said: “I’ll be taking advantage of a SE’ly wind to set sail. The wind is expected to back Easterly and then NE’ly as I make my way around the island, which should mean I will be sailing downwind practically from start to finish, with just a short tricky stretch on Tuesday afternoon around the Fastnet, due to an area of light winds, but which should not last,” explained the Irish sailor, who will set off anti-clockwise around Ireland.

It’s a northabout journey of 700 nautical miles around Ireland and all its islands; his seven-sail boat can hit speeds of up to 26 knots, or 52km per hour, but averaging much less than that, about seven knots.

“If the weather forecast is right, I would hope to cover the 698 miles in three and a half days,” said Tom, who, respecting Irish shipping rules, must keep a permanent watch and remain alert. He is accompanied by Andrew Smith, a media man who, of course, will not be involved in the boat's performance. “It all seems to be falling into place, which means I am optimistic. In any case, I must not hang around as a nasty weather system (gales) is due to sweep across Ireland on Wednesday,” the sailor concluded.

Dolan at full speed in the early part of his record bid with media man Andrew Smith documenting the attemptDolan at full speed in the early part of his record bid off the Dublin coast with media man Andrew Smith at the stern documenting the attempt Photo: Afloat

Dolan was rewarded with 15-knot winds from the southeast at start time and big following seas to sweep past the startline at full speed under spinnaker.

The forecasts say he will get strong easterly winds of 25-30kts around the north coast of Ireland before winds become westerly on Wednesday, which he hopes will carry him around Ireland entirely downwind.

This afternoon's record start time was officiated by Irish World Speed Sailing Commissioner for Ireland Paddy Boyd, who authenticated the record bid at the Kish Light.

In order to comply with the rules of Irish maritime affairs prohibiting single-handed sailing for several years, the skipper will be accompanied by a media man. 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'.

Dolan hopes to return to the Kish within three days, 19 hours, 41 minutes and 39 seconds to break the doublehanded record and set a new 'faux' record solo record Photo: AfloatDolan hopes to return to the Kish within three days, 19 hours, 41 minutes and 39 seconds to break the doublehanded record and set a new 'faux' record solo record Photo: Afloat

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.

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 Figaro 3 of 3 days, 19 hours, 41 minutes and 39 seconds.

All going well, Dolan is expected home on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning with a predicted time of 3 days and 16 hours based on current GRIBS

See the tracker below

Published in Tom Dolan

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

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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.