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Irish Solo Offshore Sailor, Tom Dolan, Prioritises Mental and Physical Preparation for 2024 Racing Season

11th March 2024
Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan: “Staying fresh, hungry and focused are my targets this season.”
Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan: “Staying fresh, hungry and focused are my targets this season.” Credit: Gilles Dedeurwaerder

Irish solo offshore sailor, Tom Dolan, is starting his 2024 racing season with a new approach. Rather than spending most of his time on the water, the skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan has prioritised his physical and mental preparation. Dolan is seeking to maintain his energy and focus at a higher level over the entire racing year, which he believes will lead to better results.

Dolan has been in the class for six years and feels like he knows the Figaro Bénéteau 3 by heart. Instead of being out sailing in search of tiny percentages in speed, he is trying to have and retain more energy and focus through each race of each event. Dolan says, “In turn, that should allow me to sail faster for longer and to have better energy to make better decisions and maintain a higher level of concentration.”

The Solo Guy Cotten races out of Dolan’s adopted home port of Concarneau from Monday until Thursday. Courses on the Bay of Concarneau are followed by a major 300-mile race between Pointe de Bretagne and Ile d’Yeu.

“I have trained a bit less on the water to make sure I am always hungry to go sailing and to do well, I have improved my strength and fitness and have worked hard on my mental game..” He says.

He has made some small tweaks to his sail program and is very happy with his boat speed. Dolan recently did some training with French skipper Jules Delpech under the watchful eye of Gildas Mahé.

“That has allowed me to look more closely at the sails again and to just validate my different trim settings. This Solo Guy Cotten will allow me to find my marks in the fleet. My goal will be to complete all the races in good shape, avoiding the pitfalls over a period of very high tides and doing the best I can against the competition, which is higher than ever with a few new faces coming in. I want to be practicing my starts and just rediscover the feel for solo racing under pressure. I don’t have a specific performance objective. My goal is to concentrate on what I can control,” says Dolan.

Dolan will race the Class 40 Amarris to Guadeloupe in April along with two other "Figaristes," good friends of his, Mahé, and Catalan Pep Costa. “Actually, that will be the first-ever crewed racing across an ocean I have done. I raced a Transatlantic before with Gildas, but this will be very different. The Class 40 is bigger and heavier and needs more physical work. Right now, I am about learning all I can on other boats too and learning from sailing with other people.”

Overall, Dolan had good results last year, and he is quite happy with his speed and experience. However, he believes that his biggest enemy is himself. He will do the best he can, just looking to chain together little wins and small victories along the way, rather than looking to achieve a ranking. The important thing for him is to have the feeling of having managed all the processes well and to feel he has sailed a good race.

Published in Tom Dolan, Class40 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.