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Displaying items by tag: Tom Dolan

Tom Dolan, the Meath sailor racing Smurfit Kappa in his first Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, has been slowly working his way up the rankings of the 36-strong fleet as they run across the Bay of Biscay in nor’easters in the second stage from Saint Brieuc in Northern Brittany to Ria de Muros in Northwest Spain writes W M Nixon. Having at one stage been back towards 30th after taking the less favoured western option between Ushant and Brittany, Dolan has got himself back into the hunt with good sailing through the second night at mid-fleet, getting up to 23rd.

The northeast winds are expected to persist, but the tightly-packed positions at the front have changed again with Sebastian Simon, Eric Peron and Scotland's Figaro veteran Alan Roberts doing well out of favouring the eastern side of the leading group, with Simon in such good form that he is 2.4 miles ahead of Peron in second and 4.4 ahead of third-placed Roberts in Seacat Services.

Last night’s early leader Anthony Marchand is now back in 7th, 6.2 miles astray on Sebastien Simon, as the leaders begin to shape their positions for arrival off the coast of Northwest Spain – Sebastien Simon is now only 185 miles from the finish, and half of that will be semi-coastal or coastal sailing off Spain’s Finisterre coast.

Joan Mulloy of Mayo, racing Taste the Atlantic, was inevitably last after the delay caused by her broken main halyard at the start. But she has been sailing well, currently making 11.6 knots and at the moment looking good to overtake Damiena Cloarec to take over 32nd place.

Race tracker here

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A broken main halyard at the start delayed Joan Mulloy’s departure yesterday in Stage 2 of the Solitaire URGO Figaro 2018, but Ireland’s other entry Tom Dolan is snapping at the heels of the top ten in this Stage, which started yesterday off St Brieuc in Northern Brittany and crosses the Bay of Biscay to northwest Spain writes W M Nixon. With fair mainly east to northeast winds off the French coast, the turning of the tide later favoured an inshore course , and the fleet are tacking to lee this morning off Brittany’s northwest corner, with Gilda Mahe (Breizh Cola) in the lead at Pointe de Pontuseval, 1.3 miles ahead of Stage 1 runner-up Charlie Dalin, and 1.5 ahead of Stage 1 winner Anthony Marchand back in third.

Tom Dolan’s current twelfth has him in close contact with top contenders such as Seabastien Simon (currently 7th) Hugh Brayshaw (8th) and Alan Roberts (5th). The first night has been a matter of catch-up for Joan Mulloy after her main halyard was replaced by her shore team, and she is further eastward along the coast, currently close west of the Ile de Batz and shown as 36th.

Race Tracker here

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Ireland’s solo Figaro sailors Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan will be the focus of tonight's episode of RTE Radio 1’s Seascapes. Presenter Fergal Keane travelled to France to catch up with the skippers, teams, and sponsors ahead of leg 1 of La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro.

On the show will be the two skippers, Ireland’s only ever entrant in the Vendée Globe and Atlantic Youth Trust President Enda O’Coineen, we’ll hear why Smurfit Kappa decided to sponsor Tom Dolan, and Team Ireland's Marcus Hutchinson will give an insight into this incredible race.

Listeners will also hear Joan Mulloy speaking on the dock at 3am after spending three and a half days alone at sea on her yacht 'Taste the Atlantic - A Seafood Journey'. The show airs at 22:30 on RTE Radio 1 and will be available online.

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Andi Robertson spoke with Ireland's solo sailor Thomas Dolan about his retiral from leg one of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro. Listen in to the recording below

Race Director Francis Le Goff commented this morning from on board the monitoring catamaran the ‘Etoile’ shadowing near the fleet on the first period of Stage 1 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, “The fleet is just a little ahead of the (predicted) routing. The only thing is the breakages which we are sorry for. But, except for Nathalie Criou, the fleet is still in a good sized group which – in terms of us keeping an eye on everyone is good news. And the fact that no one passed south of the TSS (forbidden shipping lane area). It is not surprising to see Charlie Dalin, Seb Simon or Alexis Loison at the front after they all made average starts. That really is and an indication of their ambition and their ability. Alan Roberts has proven he is fit and in the match. The big question which we will see answered in the next 12 hours is what the choices will be as the wind drops away (with the return of high pressure, and summer!). It will be complicated all the way to Wolf Rock.”

"I had been under heavy spinnaker for a mile or two in distance and we were just passing the Radio France Buoy and I heard a thud"

Thomas Dolan (IRL) Smurfit Kappa this morning in Le Havre: 
What happened exactly? 
TD: "I had been under heavy spinnaker for a mile or two in distance and we were just passing the Radio France Buoy and I heard a thud. It was not a normal thud and straight away you have that feeling inside. I did think straight away about the spreader and had Lois right beside me and so I shouted 'Is my spreader OK?' He looked and said it was OK. And then I saw the leeward shroud (which holds the mast up) banging around. It did not sink in. But automatically to save the mast like, I dropped the sails and tied on a couple of halyards. Then it settled in for me. It took a while to realise the leg is over. I rang Francis Le Goff( Race Direction) and said 'here how does it work, can I fix and go on?' and he said 'Afraid not because you have passed the Radio France buoy. You can't go back. And so I had a bit of a cry about that. As soon as I dropped the job there was a lump of metal dropped on to the deck. I thought 'that's it' I can't fix it. I took the seal off the engine and that is it. 



How did you feel then and now, the morning after? 
It is weird to come back into the village with all the flags being taken down. It is the first time it has happened to me. I did my first race in 2012 and have sailed the equivalent of a lap of the world at least, and have never had to give up. I broke a rudder one year in the Mini Fastnet but still finished. I guess if you do so many miles over the years it is going to happen, but on the first leg of your first Solitaire, it's hard to take.

The Rookie podium may be gone then? 
I guess so. That is a one-shot thing. It is more or less cooked. I will head off this evening with Eric Delamare (Region Normandie). It is such a pity for us Gildas Mahé (retired into Cowes with broken spreader too) was my coach for a while and Fred (Duthil) helped me out with sails a while ago, and so for us, all to drop out is hard to take.

What's the plan? 
I will head off this evening with Eric for a little leisurely sail to Saint Brieuc.

It is more frustrating because you were going well with a decent start? 
"I was going well, I was happy with my speed. And I saved all my sails.

Does it make it better or worse to know there are other good guys dropped out of Leg 1? 
Worse probably, I am quite close to them so it is worse. Gildas was almost first and has had a tough few years. He deserves much better.

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Unfortunately, Stage 1 of his La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro only lasted about 90 minutes for the Irish solo racer Tom Dolan yesterday. He has been forced to retire in to Le Havre because of a damaged starboard spreader. Dolan informed the race organisers that he was returning to the race start port where he is expected to repair and head directly to Saint-Brieuc to be ready for Stage 2. Abandoning the leg means his elapsed time is calculated at that of the last skipper to finish plus an additional two hours.

Listen into Tom Dolan speaking about the spreader failure on podcast here.

spreader mastDolan's broken spreader in Le Havre port last night. The breakage gave the County Meath sailor no choice but to retire and make repairs for leg two.

Meanwhile, Joan Mulloy, Ireland's first female in the race is currently lying 29th from 30 still racing. See tracker here.

The first stage of this 49th edition, La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, is the longest of the four legs and it will be something of a baptism of fire for the 36 solo racers. They may have a relatively straightforward first afternoon after the start Sunday at 1300hrs but there will be a fast crossing of the Channel under spinnaker as a fast moving and active front passes over the fleet at the start of this evening.

It will be a pretty tough, challenging first night at sea with little chance to rest. But by Monday afternoon it there will be a big change in the weather as the anticyclone re-establishes itself and with that comes a measure of uncertainty, bringing light and unsteady winds. To get to Wolf Rock off the tip of Cornwall first and then across to the Portsall mark off the Breton peninsula in good shape, up to Guernsey and in to the finish in Saint Brieuc, it looks like a long, hard and very open game.

Only six and a half hours after leaving the La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro start line in Le Havre the leaders have already turned west, upwind at the Pullar mark, to the west of Owers. Anthony Marchand (Groupe Royer-Secours Populaire) lead at South Pullar at 1930h French time (1830 BST) being chased hard by Gildas Mahe (Breizh Cola), Tanguy le Turquais (Everial), Sebastien Simon (Bregagne Credit Mutuel Performance), Eric Peron (Finistere Mer Vent), Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF )and Vincent Biarnes (Baie de Saint-Brieuc). Brit Alan Roberts (Seacat Services) is tenth at 1.3nm behind leader. The fleet now race upwind leaving the Isle of Wight to starboard. Low water at Saint Catherine's point was around 1720 BST/1820 French time and so they will be sailing against the building flood tide.

Published in Figaro

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan will see his dream become reality on Sunday when he starts the iconic Figaro du Solitaire race.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, will set out on his 32ft–yacht Smurfit Kappa to become the first Irish sailor in history to win the ‘rookie’ category for first-time entrants when racing begins at 1 pm local time.

The Solitaire du Figaro is among the world’s most revered solo sailing races and is renowned for making – and often breaking – the very best singlehanded racers.

While landlubbers might consider it a modern-day voyage for madmen, for Dolan just taking part will be a dream come true.

“I’ve been dreaming about doing this race for years, and it’s amazing to finally be here,” he said. “I remember looking at these boats ten years ago and never even contemplating being on the start line but here I am.

“It’s a special race – it’s not really even one race it’s four races, one after an another with no rest in between. It’s like doing three Fastnets and a bit more back to back, which puts it into perspective.”

Dolan, nicknamed L’Irlandais Volant – the Flying Irishman – by the French press for his sheer speed on the water, will be among 38 skippers including eight newcomers departing Le Havre on the first of four gruelling legs.

The stages range in length from 165 nautical miles to 570nm, and the race is scored on cumulative time.

The legs are long enough to test the skippers’ navigational skills but too short to allow for any downtime.

To make things even tougher, they all start within a few days of the previous one finishing, allowing for little rest in between.

Despite the challenge that lies ahead, Dolan says he’s ready to give his all in pursuit of his goal: to be the top rookie.

“I’m ready,” Dolan said. “There are always tiny little things you could keep doing but at some point, you have to just stop and get on with things. I’ve done a lot of miles with the boat this year – probably seven thousand – so I think I know it well now. It’s been a full-on year but I don’t regret it at all.

“My goal is to be the top rookie – that’s the dream. I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t in the top three, but the fleet is so strong.”

Dolan made his name in solo sailing in the Mini 6.50 class before moving into the larger and more competitive Beneteau Figaro class in early 2018, backed by eco-packaging giant Smurfit Kappa.

After winning the top rookie in the double-handed Transat AG2R La Mondiale in May, Dolan has notched up a string of impressive solo results which will see him begin the Solitaire du Figaro as the highest-ranked rookie – a first for an Irish sailor.

But he will face stiff competition from a host of rivals including rising French stars Lois Berrehar and Thomas Cardrin, not to mention fellow Irish sailor Joan Mulloy.

The first leg, a 570-mile epic from Le Havre in Normandy to St-Brieuc in Brittany, will kick off at 1pm local time (12pm UK) on Sunday in favourable conditions.

“It’s looking like there will be wind,” Dolan added. “My worry was that there would be light winds, which could spell the end of a campaign just by missing one tidal gate. Thankfully it’s not looking like that will happen, and I relish better winds.”

The race timings will be as follows:

Leg 1 – 26 August

Le Havre to Saint-Brieuc – 570 miles

Leg 2 – September 2

Saint-Brieuc – Ria de Muros-Noia – 520 miles

Leg 3 – September 8

Ria de Muros-Noia – Saint Gilles Croix de Vie

Leg 4 – September 13

Saint Gilles Croix de Vie – Saint Gilles Croix de Vie

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First unveiled in 2003 as the new boat for the 1970-founded Figaro Solo Series, the Marc Lombard-designed 34ft Figaro 2 is a class act writes W M Nixon. But with the last one built in 2015, and replacement by the foil-sporting Figaro 3 well underway for next year, the versatile Figaro 2’s days at the sharpest edge of offshore racing are numbered.

figaro three2The Figaro 3’s foiling configuration will become a full part of the Figaro Solo story in 2019

Or are they? Though she carries a tough IRC rating, the Figaro 2 can sail up to it, as has been revealed in the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. The tail-enders in that boat-breaking marathon are still struggling in light winds towards the finish in the Solent. But in the two-handed division, Volvo Ocean race veterans Benjamin Schwartz and Chen Jin Hao with their Figaro 2 El Velosolex SL Energies Group are long since finished, and they’ve made quite a clean sweep of it – first in 2-handed, first in IRC 2, and 2nd in IRC Overall.

schwartz and hao3Chen Jin Hao and Benjamin Schwartz after winning the Two-Handed Division and placing second overall in the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race.

This made it an event to remember for Marc Lombard, as he also designed Guy Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra which won IRC overall and is also rated as the line honours winner. For although Class 40 sailed the same course with Phil Sharp’s Imerys Energy first to finish of the entire fleet, as far as the RORC were concerned it was the IRC Divisions which were the real race, and they made Pata Negra (third in fleet) the recognised line honours victor.

That in turn made El Velosolex second in line honours, But even in the complete fleet with Class 40 included, she was fifth on the water across the finishing line, a brilliant performance by two hyper-tough guys with a now classic boat which happened to be the smallest in the fleet.

This very special boat comes centre stage again on Sunday, with her final time as the boat-of-choice for the staging of the four part URGO Figaro Solitaire from Le Havre, and we’ll be looking at the prospects for Irish skippers Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan here very shortly. But for now, after the series is over, what then for the Figaro 2 after she has completed these impressive Farewell Tours??

Doubtless most of the boats have already been earmarked for new owners who will know they’re getting a bargain. Trouble is, in future seasons this will be a “No Excuses Sailing Machine”. In an open fleet against more ordinary craft, there’ll be no excuse for not doing well.

Published in Figaro

Ireland’s Tom Dolan found he was in a different world entirely when he moved up from racing a Minitransat to competing in the legendary Figaro Class. Here, the competition is so hot that being first rookie in any race is regarded as a huge achievement. Yet Tom has done that on his first Figaro Transatlantic, and by being the top rookie ahead of - among many others - Minitransat winner Erwan le Draoulec, makes Tom Dolan the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month (International)” for May.

Published in Sailor of the Month
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Ireland’s Tom Dolan of the National Yacht Club has finished the Transat AG2R La Mondiale in 11th place overall, coming home as first rookie in the process.

Dolan and co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec crossed the finish line of the iconic transatlantic yacht race on their boat Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance after 19 days, nine hours, five minutes and 10 seconds.

The duo, who had only sailed together once before teaming up for the 4,000-mile dash from Concarneau, France, to St Barts in the Caribbean, took the top spot in the hotly contested ‘rookie’ category for first-timers 

They finished ahead of arch rivals Erwan Le Draoulec and Lois Berrehar by just 45 minutes.

It’s an impressive start to the Figaro Beneteau season for Dolan, who moved into the class from the Mini 6.50 – and joined forces with eco-packaging giant Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance – at the start of 2018.

The 20-strong fleet of two-person teams included 2016 Figaro La Solitaire winner Yann Richomme as well as Vendee Globe racers Morgan Lagraviere and Thomas Ruyant.

Dolan’s Transat AG2R rookie victory is all the sweeter as Le Draoulec was one of his and Bouroullec’s closest competitors in the Mini 6.50, and the winner of the 2017 Mini Transat.

“We are super happy with the race, and especially as we were the first rookies,” Dolan said. “It’s a big thing in the Figaro class so we’re delighted to take the title for the Transat.

“Tanguy and I both know Erwan really well through the Mini 6.50 but neither of us had beaten him in a while! It’s good for the moral to beat the guy who won the Mini Transat.

“The objective for this race was always to be on the rookie podium and we won it, so it’s great.” 

Dolan and Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance now turn their attention to training for the season highlight, the singlehanded Solitaire du Figaro in August.

“This result sets me up nicely for the rest of the season,” added Dolan, 30, from Kells in Meath. “The boat has been demystified and now I can concentrate on preparing for the big one – the Figaro du Solitaire.”

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Irish ocean racer Tom Dolan was inside the last 100 miles of the 4,000-mile AG2R La Mondiale Transat race on Friday, battling tropical squalls en route to the finish.

Dolan and French co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec, sailing Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance, were placed 11th in the 20-strong fleet of identical Figaro Beneteaus at the midday position update. 

With just over 70 miles to the finish line in the Caribbean island of St Barts, Dolan and Bouroullec had a narrow jump of less than 10 miles on arch rivals and fellow first-timers Erwan Le Draoulec and Lois Berrehar in 12th on Concarneau Entreprendre.

They trailed race rookies Justine Mettraux and Isabelle Joschke on Teamwork by 13 miles.

Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance is expected to cross the line at around 1900 UTC this evening, bringing to an end an epic race that has taken almost three weeks. 

But before then, Dolan and Bouroullec must defend their position from Le Draoulec and Berrehar while dealing with typically tricky Caribbean weather.

“That's it, last day of the AG2R La Mondiale Transat race,” Dolan said today.

“Since yesterday we’ve find ourselves in what is called the ‘sailor’s dilemma’: light winds, wind squalls of 30 knots, constant wind direction changes, non-stop gybing, constant need to change course, non-stop sail trimming, tactics…

“Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance is doing a ‘slalom’ between the clouds to gain an advantage with the wind and trying to be well placed.

“The 30 miles of lateral separation we had with Teamwork did not help us in this dilemma. The girls are now 10 miles ahead of us and it will be difficult to catch them before the finish line.

“The other big fear is to be caught by the young guys on Concarneau Entreprendre who are just behind and closely followed by Bretagne CMB Espoir.

“Our dilemma: either attack to try to get into the top ten, or defend our lead to win the battle of the rookies. It is still a difficult decision, and it is without doubt that the sailors dilemma" is going to play out to the finish line.”

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Page 5 of 13

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

Who is Your Sailor Sailor of the Year 2019?
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At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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