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Despite Niji40 Class40 Race Setback, Tom Dolan Returns to France for Solo Maître CoQ race

25th April 2024
Difficult Transatlantic race - Tom Dolan (right) was part of a three-strong international crew, skippered by top Figaro racer Gildas Mahé (centre). The team also included young Spanish racer Pep Costa
Difficult Transatlantic race - Tom Dolan (right) was part of a three-strong international crew, skippered by top Figaro racer Gildas Mahé (centre). The team also included young Spanish racer Pep Costa

Irish skipper Tom Dolan is gearing up for his next challenge, the Solo Maître CoQ race, after finishing fourth in the new 3,430 miles Niji40 Class40 race between Belle-Ile-en-Mer, France and Marie-Galante Gaudeloupe. The 21st edition of the Solo Maître CoQ will see Dolan racing solo again after competing in a crew of three for the Class40 race. The event is part of the 2024 French Elite Offshore Racing Championship and will consist of two coastal races out of Les Sables d'Olonne in the Vendée region, followed by a 340-mile offshore race between Belle-Ile and the islands of Ré and Yeu.

Dolan and his crew worked hard to build a lead through the early days of the Class40 race, however, damage to their main halyard and a carbon 'bone' stopper meant they had to sail with a deeply reefed mainsail, causing them to lose miles to their rivals. After a four-hour repair stop in the lee of the Azores, they found themselves almost 300 miles behind the leaders and were unable to make up the deficit.

Despite the setback, Dolan enjoyed racing as a trio, which gave him several areas to work on for the future, particularly sailing on a larger boat and managing heavier loads and manoeuvres. He also set some impressive average speeds on the scow-styled Class40, similar to those of the 60-foot IMOCAs of the pre-hydro-foiling generation.

Looking ahead to the Solo Maître CoQ, Dolan is optimistic despite some past difficulties at the event. He is pleased with the changes to the format of the long race, which will now have a more open course and longer days and shorter, milder nights.

Published in Tom Dolan, Class40
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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.

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