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Displaying items by tag: Tom Dolan

With 240–miles to the finish line at St Barth, Tom Dolan's “Smurfit Kappa Cerfrance” from the National Yacht Club is now in 11th place overall and in second place in the rookie class, only nine miles behind Teamwork, who is leading the rookies.

“Smurfit Kappa Cerfrance” is the fastest boat amongst the first eleven boats doing 8.8 knots and steering 248 degrees. It’s going to be a close call and first place in the rookies is between “Smurfit Kappa – Cerfrance” & Teamwork.

The weather forecast is for the well-established trade winds on the route of the first 7 boats to the finish line. Between 16 and 18 knots, these trade winds are from the east in recent days, but they keep a small northeast orientation.

The boats will all arrive from the northeast of the island. They will be forced to go around the west, to respect a virtual buoy placed on the side of Anse in Colombier, located at the north-west point, before arriving in Gustavia.

The first boat is expected to finish today around 2300 IST.

This AG2R La Mondiale will be the fastest ever breaking the previous 19 day record.

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Irish ocean racer Tom Dolan from the National Yacht Club and his co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec had moved inside the top ten in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale on Tuesday as the finish line draws close.

The pair have less than 700 miles to sail to the finish in the Caribbean island of St Barts having set sail from Concarneau in France on April 22, and currently lie tenth.

Their battle with 12th-placed Erwan La Draoulec and Loïs Berrehar, fellow newcomers – or ‘bizuths’ in French, continues with less than 20 miles separating the two teams in terms of distance to finish.

"The pair have less than 700 miles to sail to the finish in the Caribbean island of St Barts"

“A little over four days to go before arriving and the Battle of the Bizuths is in full swing,” Dolan said from his boat Smufit Kappa - Cerfrance.

“Yesterday morning as the sun rose it was panic stations on board Smurfit Kappa - Cerfrance as the first position report of the day revealed that the other young guns on board Concarneau Entreprendre had gained six miles on us in the night! 

“A cloud line from the north had given them a turbo boost that we were yet to receive. Luckily the same cloud line passed us over later in the day and the gap widened.”

With only a handful of days remaining, Dolan and Bouroullec also have to deal with the threat of Justine Mettraux and Isabelle Joschke on Teamwork, in 11th place.

“This morning we were just a half a mile behind Justine and Isabelle on board Teamwork and our objective of a top ten finish,” added Dolan, from Kells in County Meath.

“Even though they both have a number of seasons of Figaro behind them, it is their first Transat AG2R La Mondiale so they qualify for our Battle of the Bizuths on a technicality.

“A windy night last night helped us scream along the rhumb line. Less than 700 miles to go to Saint Barts and there is a big lateral split in the fleet, hard to know who will come out on top!”

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Ireland’s Tom Dolan and French co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec have locked horns with fellow newcomers Erwan La Draoulec and Loïs Berrehar as they battle it out for the title of first rookie in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.

Dolan and Bouroullec’s Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance was less than ten miles ahead of La Droulec and Berrehar’s Concarneau Entreprendre in the rankings on Friday.

But in reality the two boats were practically neck and neck, with Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance positioned around 15 miles north of Concarneau Entreprendre.

"With less than 1,500 miles remaining of the 4,000-mile race from Concarneau in France to St Barts in the Caribbean, Dolan said the fight for the first rookie spot was spurring them on"

It is fitting that Dolan is up against La Draoulec – the pair were close rivals in the Mini 6.5 class before both graduating to the larger Figaro for the 2018 season.

With less than 1,500 miles remaining of the 4,000-mile race from Concarneau in France to St Barts in the Caribbean, Dolan said the fight for the first rookie spot was spurring them on.

“We have declared ‘the battle of the rookies’, as on the horizon we can make out the blue mainsail of Concarneau Entreprendre , our fellow rookies in the Figaro class,” the 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, said.

“Erwan Le Draoulec, with whom we crossed paths on the same ground not so long ago during the Mini Transat, and his captain Lois Berrehar are not going to sit back and let us pass.

“Not so far behind either, Clarisse Cremer and Tanguy le Turquais are not going to let themselves be beaten either. The return to a bit of a match has revitalised us a bit after three fairly monotonous days. 

Twelve days into the race, the fleet has converged close to the midway point of the North Atlantic.

With stable north easterly trade winds blowing, Dolan said any tactics had been temporarily put aside in favour of speed.

“Weather-wise in the coming days it is hard to see any tricks to be laid - it is once again a time not to try and win this "batttle of the rookies", just be sure not to lose it,” he added. 

“In a little less than a week we will be VMG running and gybing in and around squalls on our approach to the West Indies and the game will be on, so for now our strategy can be called the ‘direct route’.”

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The National Yacht Club's Tom Dolan has gambled on a southerly route being the fasted as he attempts to climb up the leaderboard in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.

The 30-year-old from Kells, Meath, is currently in 12th position with co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec on their yacht Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance as the 4,000-mile sprint across the Atlantic enters its tenth day.

The iconic race, in which 20 of the world’s best sailors do battle in identical 32ft Figaro Beneteau boats between Concarneau in France and St Barts in the Caribbean, is only Dolan’s second outing since joining forces with eco-packaging giant Smurfit Kappa earlier this year.

"Dolan and Bouroullec are among a group of eleven teams that have pursued a route south towards the Cape Verde archipelago"

Having crossed the Tropic of Cancer two days ago, Dolan and Bouroullec are among a group of eleven teams that have pursued a route south towards the Cape Verde archipelago off the west African coast in the hope of locking into better breeze.

Meanwhile, some 200 miles north-west, the leading pack are closer in distance to the finish line but are in less wind.

With around 2,200 miles still remaining of the leg, Dolan said it would be some time before they knew if their gamble had paid off.

“The cards are down, all bets are in,” Dolan wrote in his latest dispatch from Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance.

“Two days ago we came screaming through the Canaries and since then have invested our max to the south. In ten days’ time we'll see if it has paid off.

“All of this south that we have laid on the table will mean one thing for sure: that we have and will travel a greater distance. The key will be that we will do it faster!

“The forecasts say that we should have 10 days’ worth of stronger wind and current ahead of us. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it.”

Despite both Dolan and Bouroullec being newcomers to the Figaro Beneteau class, they are already proving themselves a force to be reckoned with in a fleet that contains Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race sailors.

The pair have been buoyed by their performance in the race so far – and remain cautiously optimistic about their chances.

“On board things are good, morale is up and stable and the boat is in good condition,” Dolan added.

“For the last 48 hours we have had a sparring partner in Credit Mutuel – they are about half a mile to our right and it's good to have them to be able to compare speed, with which we are happy.

“We are still discovering the boat and to be able to match them for speed is encouraging.

“There is one hell of a big high pressure floating around up north, and if we manage to scrape past it would mean we have a good chance of a top ten finish, but time will tell.”

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Ireland’s Tom Dolan and France’s Tanguy Bouroullec have seen their fortunes rise and fall and rise again as the fleet in the Figaro two-handed AG2R Mondiale from Concarneau in Brittany to St Barths in the Caribbean puts the obligatory Canary Islands waypoint astern.

They’ve been shaping up to the tactical decision on which side to favour in the long Transatlantic haul, with the Irish-French duo tracking to the left.

The lack of a stopover in the Canaries has meant that sail damage sustained earlier in the race has to be put right on board, and the vid shows Tom taking on the task of sorting the big spinnaker, while Tanguy looks after Smurfit Kappa/Cerfrance’s excellent progress.

We mentioned before the race started that Tom was now so immersed in the French offshore scene that at times he seemed to think in French – now you can see it for yourself. Meanwhile, the word is that on the leaderboard they’ve gone as high as 5th, but have slipped back at times to 11th, though we’re told to expect welcome developments in the next 36 hours.

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Irish ocean racer Tom Dolan has moved up to eighth overall following a full-on 48 hours in the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, and co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec rocketed up the leaderboard as they flourished in big Atlantic breeze around 200 miles off the African coast.

After a tough light-wind opening to the race, Dolan’s first major event in the super-competitive Figaro Beneteau fleet, the pair’s boat Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance was hit with gales of up to 40 knots after rounding the north-west tip of Spain.

While some call these conditions ‘fresh to frightening’, Dolan and Bouroullec are renowned for thriving when the weather gods get angry.

“The 48 hours after Cape Finisterre were a tad on the sporty side,” Dolan said. “Our coach Gildas Mahe once told us that there are times when you shouldn’t try to win a race, just be certain not to lose it. It is always the same gentle balance in the heavy stuff.”

After suffering a knock-down, Dolan and Bouroullec discovered one of their spreaders had pieced a hole in their mainsail but after taking precautionary measures to stem the rip they were back up to full speed.

They also sustained damage to their largest spinnaker, which will prove vital once they approach the lighter winds of the Caribbean. 

Turning to their smaller, older spinnaker they put the throttle back down but suffered another knock down that lost them three hours while they waited for conditions to abate.

“It cost is three hours but at least we can say we came within three hours and a snapshackle of keeping up with the best in the sport – not too bad for a pair of rookies,” Dolan said with trademark enthusiasm. 

At 1500 UTC Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance was 80 miles behind leaders Sebastien Simon and Morgan Lagraviere but with a boat speed of more than 10 knots was the fastest in the top ten. 

The fleet must round a waypoint off Las Palmas in Gran Canaria some 150 miles ahead before punching across the Atlantic towards the finish line in St Barts. 

“Now the sun’s out, the music’s on and we’re working on repairs,” Dolan said. “We’re into the trade winds and now the mission is to stay ahead of our fellow newbies Erwan Le Draoulec and Loïs Berrehar.”

Track Dolan’s progress at

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Tom Dolan and Tanguy Bouroullec’s intro to two-handed Figaro sailing with Smurfit Kappa-CerFrance was always going to be a very steep learning curve writes W M Nixon. They had very limited time to prepare their boat and hone their skills, going in less than two months from a standing start to the actual start on Sunday at Concarneau of the Transat AG2R.

This takes the fleet in two stages to St Barthlemy in the Caribbean, via a stop in the Canaries. A hasty message sent last night by Tom in his own special style gets the mood:

“Well, we're off anyway and after a typical Dolan start (we were last leaving Concarneau, seaweed issues) we managed to work our way back up the fleet a bit. Not easy keeping with the best in the game, but we're happy enough.

After 2 days crossing Biscay in light winds, it’s finally up to 25 knots, the ballast tanks are full, the rudders are spread and the drysuit is being dusted off. Smurfit Kappa / CerFrance is over on her ear, and screaming along. Macif is just ahead and Teamwork just behind - we think we’re mid fleet.

Next on the menu is Cap Finistere, gusts of up to 45 knots and a hairy enough gybe in a lumpy sea to benefit as much as possible from the "curves" of the isobars, thanks to the low pressure over Spain. Briefly got coverage just now, so I decided I’d send you this quick email and a pic of us rounding Cabo Ortegal when the winds were lighter”.

smurfit kappa ortegal2Smooth and swift sailing past Cabo Ortegal in northwest Spain

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Irish ocean racer Tom Dolan is to face the might of the Atlantic for the second time in less than six months as he takes to the start line of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale. 

Dolan, 30, will face his first major test in the ultra-competitive Figaro Bénéteau class since stepping up from the Mini 6.50 fleet at the start of 2018.

The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see Dolan race 3,800 miles from Concarneau in Brittany, France, to St Barts in the West Indies alongside teammate and former Mini 6.50 rival Tanguy Bouroullec.

The race comes just months after Dolan raced solo across the Atlantic in the 2017 Mini Transat in which he placed sixth overall in a fleet of 56.

Earlier this year Dolan teamed up with eco-friendly packaging giant Smurfit Kappa to launch his bid for the 2018 Figaro season and jointly promote a message of sustainability and innovation.

The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will be Dolan’s second outing in Smurfit Kappa after he and Bouroullec raced in the Solo Concarneau 250 earlier this month 

“In the Solo Concarneau 250 were happy speed-wise - we were fast upwind and downwind but unfortunately on a few occasions we were going quickly in the wrong direction,” said Dolan, from Kells in County Meath.

“It was a hard race but good for our first one. Now we need to step up for the Transat. It actually feels like I’m still in Transat mode because I only crossed the finish line of the Mini Transat a few months ago.

“The difference is that with this one is there’s no stopover – if we break something there’s there’s no time to stop. The level of the fleet is so high that if you take your foot off the gas for just a few minutes it’s very hard to get that back.”

Starting on Sunday April 22, the Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see 40 of the world’s best ocean racers converge in their two-person teams to fight it out for the coveted title.

Among the fleet are 2016 Figaro La Solitaire winner Yann Richomme and reigning serie division Mini Transat champion Erwan La Draoulec as well as Vendee Globe racers Morgan Lagraviere and Thomas Ruyant.

“It’s a big step up into the big league for me,” said Dolan, who the French refer to as L’Irlandais Volant – the Flying Irishman. “With the Mini I was on my own on my little scooter but now we’re on a big boat with all the big boys’ toys. It’s pretty overwhelming but I’m excited for the challenge.”

The race starts at 1300 local time (1100 UTC) and can be followed on the tracker here

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Meathman Tom Dolan made no secret of the fact that he expected his first competitive outing in the two-handed division of the famous Figaro Class to be a chastening experience writes W M Nixon.

With former Mini-Transat rival Tanguy Bouroullec (Bouroullec was fourth overall in the 54-strong Mini-Transat 2017, while Dolan was sixth), Dolan has recently taken over a well-used Figaro to move up a notch in the high-powered French scene. At the finish at the weekend, they were ninth out of eleven in the two-handed class, while fellow-rookie Joan Mulloy of Mayo racing Taste the Atlantic was 20th out of 24 in the Solo Division.

"Dolan has intensive training in mind before the Two-Handed Transatlantic starts in a fortnight’s time"

So they all have some way to go, to say the least. Dolan has intensive training in mind before the Two-Handed Transatlantic starts in a fortnight’s time, but meanwhile we’ll let him tell the story in his own inimitable way: 

“With regard to the Solo Concarneau 250, we are happy speed-wise. For two rookies who got our hands on the boat just two months ago, we were able to match the best of them for speed both upwind and downwind (useful for a Transatlantic!)

Also, we had a great start, and if it wasn't for a slightly over-doing the layline, we would have passed the first mark in first, so that’s another positive.

tom dolan monday2Tom Dolan and shipmate Tanguy Bouroullec

On the downside, though, we lacked preparation weather-wise, and we got hit hard at Quiberon as we didn’t go close enough in to the headland to exploit the huge left shift that came at it.

This meant that for the whole leg from Quiberon out to Belle Ile, we were to leeward of the fleet sailing close to the wind, while the others had a wider angle - we got steam-rolled. So we'll have to work on strategy a lot more for the Transat. And then in the light wind in the night, we took a while to get the machine going again, but more time on the water should help this.

Voila, that’s about it overall for now - happy enough, but lots of work to do. The level is monstrous, and we're competing against the best, so we know we can't expect to get the same sort of results as we did in the Mini. It will take time to learn the trade, and we have managed to do everything in two months that we had two years to do for the Mini-Transat.

The fact that we have managed to make the machine move is good - now we just have to be sure to move her in the right direction. It's better to go slowly in the right direction that quickly in the wrong one………”

tom dolan monday3Looking good when the going was good. Smurfit Kappa-Cerfrance (second from left) when the rookies had found they’d the same speed as the other boats – their problem was choosing the right way to go.

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Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan has revealed further details of plans to compete in the hotly-contested Figaro class in 2018 – a move that takes him one step closer to his ultimate goal of the Vendee Globe.

Dolan will join the gruelling Figaro circuit, which features some of the world’s best singlehanded sailors, after a successful tenure in the Mini 6.50 class.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, notched up numerous wins and podium finishes during his time in the class, earning him the nickname L’Irlandais Volant – the Flying Irishman.

His long list of achievements culminated in finishing sixth overall out of a fleet of 56 entries in the iconic Mini Transat Race last year, for which he was shortlisted for the title of Volvo/Irish Sailing/ Irish Sailor of the Year.

Dolan, has now teamed up with eco-friendly packaging giant Smurfit Kappa to launch his bid for the 2018 Figaro season and jointly promote a message of sustainability and innovation.

"Smurfit Kappa supported Tom in 2017 during his Mini 650 campaign and his constantly evolving results were very satisfying for us. Tom is a professional sailor with a very promising future, and this is why we are proud to be supporting him. Innovation and Sustainability are our key values and we are proud to be sharing them with Tom's campaign" said Gérard Mathieu, Marketing and innovation manager, Smurfit Kappa France

tom dolan mini2
Tom Dolan’s Minitransat boat in which Smurfit Kappa were joint sponsors. The eco-friendly packaging giant have now come aboard as lead sponsors for his Figaro campaign.

Tom’s steed will be none other than Figaro 15, the boat that French offshore legends Martin Le Pape and Roland Jourdain raced in 2014.

Despite having plenty of offshore racing experience, including five transatlantic crossings, Dolan admits that the jump into the Figaro, which is a third bigger than the Mini 6.50, is daunting.

“Joining the Figaro fleet this year is exciting, if a little scary,” Dolan said. “The Figaro is known as one of the most challenging classes to sail in because of the sheer level of sailors.

“It’s where the world’s best singlehanders come to prove themselves and if you look at the list of Vendee Globe winners they’ve practically all competed in the Figaro.

“This is very much the next step towards my dream of competing in the Vendee Globe, I want to do the best job I can, for myself and my sponsors.”

Dolan’s first venture in his new boat will be the AG2R La Mondiale – a doublehanded sprint across the Atlantic from the French town of Concarneau, Dolan’s adoptive home, to the Caribbean island of St Barts.

Dolan will team up with and close friend and old Mini 6.50 adversary Tanguy Bouroullec for the 3,800-mile race, which starts on April 22.

The season highlight will be the Solitaire du Figaro, a challenging 1,600-mile solo race around the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, starting on August 26.

figaro racing3
Figaro racing – it’s the Big Boys’ League by comparison with the Mini-Transat.

Dolan’s main goal is to finish on the podium of the rookie class – a division for first-timers in the Solitaire.

“The AG2R is going to be a baptism of fire for me – it’ll be my first proper race in the Figaro and it’s all the way across the Atlantic with no stopover,” Dolan added.

“It’s a quick turnaround from finishing the Mini Transat back in November but I wanted to keep the momentum up, and make sure that I stay sharp.

“Sailing doublehanded is very different to solo sailing but I’ve trained alongside Tanguy for a few years now and we know each other well.

“He was renowned in the Mini for being fast when the conditions were heavy, so he’ll be the ideal guy to have onboard.

“My season goal is to end up on the podium in the rookie division of the Solitaire. If I can do well as a rookie it will have been a good season.”

Dolan is proud to be able to count on the support of Smurfit Kappa, one of Europe’s leading eco-packaging companies.

“Smurfit Kappa has strong values of sustainability and innovation, values that I share and want to spread as I race around the world,” Dolan said.

“Respect for the environment and sustainable development are things that affect me enormously.

“At sea we always try to be minimalist about what we take onboard the boat, and we constantly evaluate any waste we produce.

“This allows us to see first-hand the result of a world obsessed with consumption. When we arrive from a race we are asked if we have seen fish, sunsets, whales... but the reality today is that what we see most is plastic waste. This cannot continue like this.”

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Page 6 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.


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. 

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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