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Displaying items by tag: Tom Dolan

Tired, slightly disappointed but nonetheless armed with a number of valuable lessons which he will take forward to next month’s La Solitaire URO Le Figaro, Ireland’s Tom Dolan finished 28th into Les Sables d’Olonne on Smurfit Kappa yesterday afternoon (Saturday) at the end of the 380 nautical miles offshore race, so completing the Solo Maître Coq in 24th position overall.

Dolan, from County Meath, finishes almost exactly mid-fleet after the three races – two short inshores and the longer offshore which started on Thursday afternoon and took the 47 strong fleet south to the Ile de Re off La Rochelle, north to Belle Île to the NW of Nantes and back to finish in Les Sables d’Olonne.

"The start cost me. I think I was fifth from last off the line and round the first mark"

A mediocre start, which left him towards the back of the white-hot fleet of France’s top solo racers at the first turning mark, left Dolan with a mountain to climb. Although he pulled up more than 20 places over the ensuing legs and spent 24 hours racing side-by-side with three times La Solitaire winner Yann Eliès a final finish in the top 20 eluded Dolan.

“The start cost me. I think I was fifth from last off the line and round the first mark. That is something I have to work on. I need a process, a formula to work from and stick to it. In this fleet you can’t afford to start badly.” Said Dolan on the dock in Port Olona.

“That was a proper Figaro Solitaire race, lots of transitions and you just could not afford to make mistakes. There was place changing until the end. Someone would get away a bit, there was a transition and they’d be caught. We saw Armel Le Cléac’h leading almost to the finish and then get passed on the last to legs. I was quick enough on the downwind to the Ile de Re but was out of phase with the shifts and I ended up to leeward of the fleet at the end of the first, long run which was not good and I took a bit of a kicking to there. But I felt like I kept my head, and stayed cool much more than I maybe used to and I worked back from there.” Dolan explained.

“The positives to take away from this is that I am definitely fast. I just need to now make sure I am going fast in the right direction. My manoeuvres are really good, I did some really nice work in the sail changes and I managed myself well – I slept at the right times and did not lose places – and so I don’t have too many concerns there.” He concludes.

After the long, intensive build up, working no stop since early February, rest is now a priority for the Irish skipper before the La Solitaire URGO La Figaro fleet assembles in Nantes in late May.

“I am very happy with the set up of the boat and everything, going sailing all the time now I think would be slightly counterproductive. I want to be starting the Solitaire in the best possible shape.”

Published in Figaro
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With more than half of the 340 nautical miles coefficient, 4 offshore race sailed in the Solo Maître Coq Ireland's Tom Dolan on Smurfit Kappa is in 27th place this afternoon as the 47 strong fleet pass the northernmost turning mark near Belle Ile, north-west of Nantes.

Dolan was 30th early on in the first solo offshore race to be sailed in the new Figaro Beneteau 3, but has made steady gains during Thursday night and Friday morning. The Irish sailor was this afternoon scrapping alongside Yann Eliès who was the event leader going in to the offshore race. With just over 170 nautical miles still to sail, the race is expected to finish during Saturday afternoon. The offshore course started yesterday at 1400hrs local time, the passage taking the fleet on a loop between Les Sables d'Olonne, the Ile de Re - off La Rochelle - and Belle Ile.

"It won't be over until it the finish line is crossed. This will be a test, a bit of a dress rehearsal for a La Solitaire type course, with prolonged periods of close racing alongside other boats. My goal is to make good manoeuvres." said Dolan before he left. "I want to do well but don't feel any pressure to make a particular result right now. This is very much about learning." The race has seen something of an upset to the early hierarchy which was established over the first two inshore races Monday and Tuesday. Tanguy Le Turquais has held a solid lead with Armel Le Cléac'h in third and veteran Loick Peyron fourth.

Finish in the Top 15, it would be really good. After my round of 6th Tuesday, I know that I can do good things and it gives me confidence, but I do not forget that on the circuit of Figaro, we can do 1st a day and 40th the next day ", has commented Tom who knows that the result of this new race could largely upset the situation in the general classification, partly because it has a very high coefficient (4 against 1.5 for the previous coastal) and, on the other hand, because the most experienced sailors, especially the Vendée-Globalists like Michel Desjoyeaux, Jérémie Beyou or Amel Le Cléac'h, whom we did not necessarily see shine on the first two rounds, go feel more comfortable on this more offshore exercise. The proof is also given tonight since it is they who currently hold the top positions while for his part, Tom is in 30th position. But everything remains to be done and the outcome will not be known until Saturday at the end of the day.

Published in Solo Sailing
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After an excellent 14th overall and fifth in the final leg, when sailing with Damian Foxall in the doublehanded Sardinha Cup, Ireland's Tom Dolan is now ready to fly solo on his Smurfit Kappa as he takes on this week's Solo Maître Coq.

The first solo event for the Figaro Beneteau 3 starts Monday and has attracted a truly stellar cast, the fleet growing from the 34 which raced in the Sardinha Cup to 44 boats which have assembled in Les Sables d'Olonne for a series which comprises two days of 30-40 mile inshore races Monday, Tuesday followed by an offshore of around 400 nautical miles which starts Thursday.

Among the big names of the French solo ocean racing scene, two times winner of the Vendèe Globe and three times winner of La Solitaire Michel Desjoyeaux joins the fleet for the first time to pitch himself up against Jérémie Beyou and Yann Eliès - both are also three times La Solitaire overall winners - and past La Solitaire victors such as Armel Le Cléac'h, Yoanne Richomme and legendary Route du Rhum winner Loick Peyron.

"It is exciting. In some ways, this is like a dream come true to race against some of these guys. It is what I have wanted to do since I started out ten years ago. But I will not let myself get overawed. On the water, they are just boats to race against." Dolan smiled on the dock in Port Olona, Les Sables d'Olonne on the French Vendée coast.

The weather forecasts suggest a week of light to moderate winds are in prospect. Dolan, who is from County Meath, is open-minded, "I'll take what comes, certainly when it was light in the Sardinha Cup we seemed to have speed which is good but this will be much more about manoeuvres than out and out speed, so it is going to be interesting. We have done a few days of training and manoeuvres and I seemed to get on OK. I think I am quite good from the years in the Mini class. But for sure my weakness is getting off the start line. I am learning to stick to a routine and improve my timing to the line, but there is some way to go. It takes time and practice."

This first solo race in the Figaro Beneteau 3 will be a chance to refine and improve techniques ahead of June's La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro. "I want to do well it is important for the morale, similarly I don't want to do badly because it would put me a bit on the back foot psychologically. It's important to feel confident going into La Solitaire. But this is very much a learning event, a chance to work on the processes. This the first confrontation for the whole fleet so I think most people will take the same view.

Published in Figaro
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Ireland’s Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall finish in an excellent final leg fifth place in the Sardhinha Cup. As Afloat previously reported, the Irish duo set sail on 30 March, 2019 to brave the elements in their Dubarry sailing boots. The unique designs and the very best technical materials ensure Dubarry sailing boots prove themselves time and time again in some of the most challenging conditions at sea. And this is why Dubarry boots have rightly gained the respect and trust of those that sail the world’s oceans.

Tom: “Everyday I work on the boat I do it in my ten-year-old pair of Dubarry sailing boots, they are a bit battered but still comfortable and still dry. It’s great to know that we are going to sea with well made, good quality material. A huge aim of this year’s campaign, in conjunction with Smurfit Kappa, is to promote sustainability in sailing projects. Using materials that last is key to this, and thanks to Dubarry for being part of it.”

"To go fast you’ve got to have dry feet"

Damian: “To go fast you’ve got to have dry feet, especially this time of year in the middle of Biscay and having good quality material is the cornerstone of this. The better you feel, the more you can concentrate on the two key pillars of offshore racing, going fast in the right direction!”

Published in Figaro
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After minor frustrations marred the first two legs of the Sardinha Cup, Ireland's Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall on Smurfit Kappa finished the first offshore series for the new Figaro Beneteau 3 class on a high note, securing an excellent fifth place on the 280 nautical miles third and final stage.

"That is more like the result we felt we were capable of. On the first two legs, we were sailing fast and generally going in the right direction. But this was a leg when most things went right." smiled Foxall on the dock this morning in Saint-Gilles Croix-De-Vie on the French Vendée coast, the host port of the event and 'home' to boatbuilders Beneteau.

After their 13th place in the shorter, opening Vendée Warm Up leg, then 20th on the first long offshore stage and their fifth on this leg - which was shortened this morning from the scheduled 320 miles to 280 miles - the Smurfit Kappa pair finish 13th overall

From a 'mediocre' start from Saint-Gilles-Crox-De-Vie on Thursday afternoon, the flying Irish duo hit their stride in breezes to 20 knots and proved fast on the 130 nautical miles downwind to a turning mark off Arcachon, south of Bordeaux. They were well inside the top ten of the 32 boat fleet at the southernmost turn.

Yesterday, Friday, Dolan and Foxall gained places on the ensuing upwind stage when there was little wind and the key was working the wind shift created as the sea breeze came in close to the land.

At one point they were up to fourth but a slight hiccup -dropping the spinnaker into the foil - cost them momentarily in the very close racing. Then the sensible choice was to consolidate and cover the fleet to secure the top 5.

"I'm happy with that." Dolan grinned, "It was disappointing not to hold on to good early positions on the first two stages, but this is more of a correct result in terms of how we have been sailing."

"We definitely had good speed again on the run and made our gybes at the right time. I have good sails from Technique Voiles, a smaller French loft, and with the big spinnaker, in particular, we seemed to be able to sail a little lower and stay fast." Dolan added.
Foxall, a veteran of ten round the world races whose first experience back with the Figaro class this was after a 20 years hiatus, added:

"Tom has been putting in the time and has good potential going forwards from here. It is a new boat, the Figaro Beneteau 3, and it will be a lot harder to sail solo, but this a great way to start the season for him."

"I really came in with no expectations at all." the round the world sailor from County Kerry admitted, "But in many ways, it is like riding a bike, the reflexes come back automatically and you get the boat going fast. Once we found the buttons to do that we seemed to be able to do that. He has good sails and has put in a lot of work with the Lorient training group."

Foxall moves on to his next major project now. Asked if his experience with the new Figaro and his ebullient compatriot Dolan might tempt him to return to the Figaro in which he cut his solo and short-handed teeth some 20 years ago, Foxall said: "I suppose it is 'never say never', but for sure it is great, great racing. It felt very familiar and it was nice to be in that comfort zone."

Won overall by three times La Solitaire champion Yann Eliès sailing with French-based British co-skipper Samantha Davies, the Sardinha Cup has been a useful first event for the fleet and for Dolan who now starts his solo training looking towards the season's pinnacle, June's La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro.

Published in Figaro

Smurfit Kappa, the new Figaro 3 being raced in the current Sardinha Cup series in France by Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall, has been comfortably in the top ten since the start of the 320-mile Leg 3 off St Gillles yesterday at 1330hrs. The course is south to a turning mark off Arcachon, then north leaving Ile d’Yeu to port before heading northwest to another turn before the final leg southeast to St Gilles, where the finish is expected tomorrow (Saturday).

"Smurfit Kappa has shown some impressive bursts of speed"

Smurfit Kappa has shown some impressive bursts of speed, but despite slower going since making the turn off Arcachon during the night, the Irish duo have been steppd up the challenge, and this morning are shown as a close third in line honours, just 1.1 miles astern of leaders Samantha Davies and Elies Yann in St Michel. The race has been slightly slower for Joan Mulloy and Mile Golding in Atlantic Youth Trust - they are shown at 29th in line honours, five miles astern.

Race Tracker here

Published in Figaro

The start of the Sardinha Cup Stage 3 for the new Beneteau Figaro 3 fleet has now been reset for 1330hrs local time tomorrow, Thursday, April 11th off St Gilles Croix de Ville, following a massive effort by the shore support teams and specialist squads from the manufacturers to put right serious rigging problems in several entrants. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 9th, this long race had looked for a while to need postponement to the weekend, but a very impressive display of repair and replacement resources is seeing the situation being sorted ahead of expectations.

Ireland’s Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall are itching to get back out racing again, as their boat Smurfit Kappa has shown as a real contender, and when they became fouled in abandoned fishing gear in hard driving in the middle of Stage 2, they were actually within shouting distance of the lead on the water. As it is, after two stages raced they are currently lying 19th overall, but it seems unlikely they’ll be able to demonstrate their notable heavy weather skills, as the expected winds are currently not forecast to go above 15-16 knots.

Published in Figaro
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After the heavy going experienced for much of the first two stages of the Sardinha Cup for the brand new Figaro 3 boats, a significant part of the fleet had sustained such serious rig problems that the long-distance Leg 3 has been postponed until the weekend in order to allow round-the-clock working in port at St Gilles Croix de Vie in order to get the boats ocean ready once more.

Ironically, the Bay of Biscay is now experiencing extremely light winds for the time of year, but the strong breezes may have returned when the fleet puts back to sea. Ireland’s Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall on Smurfit Kappa had their own problems when they became enmeshed in fishing gear while well placed during Leg 2, and currently are well down the line with a 13th and a 20th recorded in the two legs sailed, while Joan Mulloy and Mike Golding were early victims of the technical failures and had to put into the nearest port.

Published in Figaro

A glutton for punishment? After a tough, stamina-sapping 408 nautical miles second leg of the Sardinha Cup in strong, gusty winds, freezing temperatures which even brought hailstones, Ireland’s Smurfit Kappa pair Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall cannot wait to go back racing, looking ahead to the third and final stage to try and better their 20th place on Leg 2.

They started well and were well among the contenders in the early stages of the leg which drew a long downwind and upwind between the Gironde estuary, off Bordeaux, and a northerly turning mark off Glenans, south Finistère.

"After the initial losses, Dolan feels they took a riskier option at the Ile de Yeu which did not pay"

Dolan reported, "Just as during the warm-up, we started very well and the early stages were really good for us. But on the downwind to the buoy BXA, we got a fishing line and rope on the keel. It took a while to realise what was happening as we were still making 11-12 knots! We were three or four knots slower than the others for while. We just did not know what was happening. We swapped helming a couple of times. When we did we had to take the kite down and back up. That probably cost us 20 minutes alone.”

After the initial losses, Dolan feels they took a riskier option at the Ile de Yeu which did not pay. “I guess we were frustrated and felt we had to take a bigger risk and lost three boats there.” Smurfit Kappa lies 19th overall in this first series of offshore races for the new Figaro Beneteau 3. The third stage starts on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s a bit frustrating that happened, it was bad luck. But we are fast. I don’t think we have any problems there. We are probably one of the fastest boats at the moment. There is no real hierarchy at the top, probably 15 good boats emerging with a chance of winning legs. Now for us, it has to be third time lucky doesn’t it!”

Published in Figaro
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If the first stage of the Sardinha Cup, the first offshore races for the Figaro Beneteau 3, proved to be something of a gentle baptism, the 405 nautical miles second stage which starts this Tuesday afternoon at 1600hrs local time, should be a much more complete test of boat handling, speed, strategic choices and stamina.

Ireland’s Figaro duo Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall, co-skippers of Smurfit Kappa, are relishing the next challenge. Well rested and debriefed after their 13th on the short first stage, the duo feel they have a good handle on what will be key on this stage.

The course is expected to last around 48-50 hours, starting and finishing off Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie on the French Atlantic Vendée coast. If light winds marked the opening stage which was shortened because of the calms, this leg will see the 33 duos make a high speed downwind run off the start line in 25-30kts of wind to turn at the entrance to the Saint Nazaire channel at the entrance to the Gironde estuary (by Bordeauz) is followed by a long 150 nautical miles upwind return to turn off the Glénan.

“This will be our first real test in breeze and we are raring to go. It looks like it will be a long, fast night. It will be good to be double-handed for this leg in this breeze as if something goes wrong the other pair of hands can keep you in the game. It will be fast and it will be wet. And cold. This is polar air coming in so at least downwind tonight it might not be so cold.” Said Tom Dolan as he and Foxall prepared to dock out from the pretty Vendée haven renowned for its sardines.

“We were going well through the first leg. We had speed upwind and were good until we made that little mistake. The wind did come in from the east so our strategy was good, we just went too far and were too early for it.” Dolan recalled.

He explains: “The key tonight will be when and if to gybe and that will be determined by a shift coming through which we will need to monitor very closely, and also to keep a very close eye on what we see the fleet are doing. Spinnaker choice and handling will be important. The on the upwind, another crucial decision will be a left shift which looks like it could determine the lay line to the finish and that will be around four or five on Thursday morning, just when we might be at our tiredest, before dawn on the last morning. Lovely!”

This will be the first big downwind ever for the whole fleet and Dolan anticipates that this may be key to the race. Sail choice will be key, between the Code Zero, A4 and A2 spinnakers, going for maximum power but still being able to survive the bullet cold fronts coming through.

“In general when the foil is humming you are fast, so you focus on that. The boat has much more feel and is much more fun than its predecessor and that will make a difference through the night tonight.”

And Dolan feels he is profiting from his partnership with the hugely experienced Foxall.
“I know we Irish are always cool calm and collected on all boats, but Damian is a very cool customer when it gets difficult, his experience really shows and it is great to see how to stay calm and work things out rather than getting in a flap.” Dolan concludes.

Published in Figaro
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