Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Tom Dolan Closes In On Munster Coast For Continuing Round Ireland Windward Challenge Past Kerry And West Cork

31st October 2023
On Tuesday morning, Tom Dolan sailed on to windward towards the Clare coast, and is now well southwest of the Aran Islands, making about six knots on a track which, at 0800hrs, was headed towards Kilkee
On Tuesday morning, Tom Dolan sailed on to windward towards the Clare coast, and is now well southwest of the Aran Islands, making about six knots on a track which, at 0800hrs, was headed towards Kilkee Credit: Afloat

Tuesday morning 0815 hrs -  As he expected, Tom Dolan, with his Figaro 3 Smurfit-Kappa Kingspan, is finding the challenge of getting past the majestic southwestern seaboard of Kerry and West Cork the most demanding part of his current Round Ireland Record bid.

The local low-pressure area off Shannon Mouth and the Clare coast is losing its identity as its centre moves slowly across Ireland in an easterly direction, and any northwest winds to the west of it have faded in the face of more vigorous north-moving systems taking over the weather picture, with increasingly strong southerlies the pattern for later today.

Tom Dolan, sailing fast on his Figaro 3 Smurfit-Kappa Kingspan during his Round Ireland Speed Record Challenge Photo: AfloatTom Dolan, sailing fast on his Figaro 3 Smurfit-Kappa Kingspan during his Round Ireland Speed Record Challenge Photo: Afloat

However, while he has still been in the wind with it increasingly from ahead, he has sailed on to windward towards the Clare coast, and is now well southwest of the Aran Islands, making about six knots on a track which at 0800hrs was headed towards Kilkee.

After he has closed the land to find the smoothest water available, he then has the option of keeping it close aboard as the southerlies settle in properly. Although getting past the Blaskets may be a rugged business, once achieved he then has the choice of finding smoother windward sailing in the mouth of both Dingle Bay and the Kenmare River.

Tom Dolan is being filmed for a forthcoming documentary on his 'faux' solo Round Ireland Challenge by onboard media man Andrew Smith (on stern) Photo: AfloatTom Dolan is being filmed for a forthcoming documentary on his 'faux' solo Round Ireland Challenge by onboard media man Andrew Smith (on stern) Photo: Afloat

But with Dursey Island put astern, the coast is trending on a northwest-to-southeast axis, and he’s likely to have a real slugging match before reaching the Fastnet Rock. There, a significant course alteration to port may provide the opportunity for a close reach on track along Ireland’s south coast if the wind hasn’t backed too much to the southeast or even east as the signs of the approaching Storm Ciaran start to become more evident.

Thus, any small advantage fully utilised today will be all to the good, as Tom and his boat will be racing against the remorseless advance of the outliers of Storm Ciaran.

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

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

Email The Author

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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.