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Tom Dolan's Second Round Ireland Record Bid is Dashed By Storm Ciaran

1st November 2023
Tom Dolan's second Round Ireland Speed Record attempt has ended off the County Kerry coast due to a worsening weather forecast
Tom Dolan's second Round Ireland Speed Record attempt has ended off the County Kerry coast due to a worsening weather forecast Credit: Afloat

Tom Dolan's second attempt at a Round Ireland speed record has ended off County Kerry, at the end of his second day at sea (Tuesday) because of the imminent arrival of Storm Ciaran off the southwest coast. 

Tonight, Dolan is tied up in Dingle Marina, citing safety at sea as the first and only consideration for him and his team.

“I am gutted, I really am because it was going so well and I was quick with some really high sustained speeds around the NE corner where there was flat water,” said Dolan in Dingle. “I was getting gale Force 9 warnings on the VHF radio, and it was getting worse. 24 hours ago, it was looking difficult but doable but not now.”

Tom Dolan ties up in Dingle Marina. He has had to stop his solo Round Ireland sailing record attempt in Kerry, despite being more than 80 miles – or about 10 hours - ahead of the existing record pace after having sailed more than half the 688 miles course on his boat Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan Photo: Gary DelaneyTom Dolan ties up in Dingle Marina. He has had to stop his 'faux' solo Round Ireland sailing record attempt in Kerry, despite being more than 80 miles – or about 10 hours - ahead of the existing record pace after having sailed more than half the 688 miles course on his boat Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan Photo: Gary Delaney

The difficult decision was made to abandon the attempt after some record speeds down the west coast had been achieved and head for Europe's most westerly marina in County Kerry on Tuesday (October 31st) afternoon.

“I will take stock in a while but immediately, I need to look after the boat. But there are worse things going on in the world and for sure there are worse places to be than Dingle”, he added.

Dolan said he was not prepared to take the risk on his 36-foot Figaro Beneteau 3, particularly 'with no safe havens to shelter in on the SW and S of Ireland'.

Eagle-eyed observers had already twigged the development when Dolan's track was spotted inside the Blasket Islands on Kerry's coast, contrary to the record course rules.

After making the Blasket Islands in 48 hours, the tracker shows Tom Dolan heading for shelter at Dingle Harbour ahead of Storm CiaranTwo days into the challenge, the tracker shows Tom Dolan heading for shelter at Dingle Harbour ahead of Storm Ciaran on Tuesday, October 31st

Dolan had made impressive times over the past 48 hours since setting off from Dublin Bay on Sunday afternoon and was running well ahead of the existing double-handed and solo times. 

He had made the County Mayo coast in 24 hours and was averaging 7 knots, and only needed to average 4 to beat the record, but weather forecasts indicated he would be challenged by 30-knot headwinds up to the Fastnet Rock tonight.

 Tom Dolan as he embarked on the Round Ireland record challenge on Sunday afternoon at the Kish Lighthouse on Dublin Bay. He made the Blasket Islands off County Kerry 48 hours later to be on course for a sub three day record time Photo: Afloat  (Above and below) Tom Dolan as he embarked on the Round Ireland record challenge on Sunday afternoon at the Kish Lighthouse on Dublin Bay. He made the Blasket Islands off County Kerry 48 hours later to be on course for a sub three day record time Photo: Afloat  Tom Dolan as he embarked on the Round Ireland record challenge on Sunday afternoon at the Kish Lighthouse on Dublin Bay. He made the Blasket Islands off County Kerry 48 hours later to be on course for a sub three day record time Photo: Afloat 

Dolan's reference times to beat were 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, meaning he had until Thursday, 2 November at 11:32:12 to beat both. Instead, Dolan and his onboard media man, Andrew Smith, arrived in Dingle Harbour at 5.30 pm today.

As regular Afloat readers know, Dolan's southbound attempt in May fell short when he encountered a foul tide and light winds on the Irish Sea. 

It remains to be seen whether it will be third time lucky for the County Meath man and if he can make another Round Ireland attempt before the end of the year.

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.