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Displaying items by tag: La Solitaire du Figaro

Benoît Tuduri of CAPSO en Cavale has made a formidable comeback on the third and final stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec. Tuduri was denied the Stage 1 win due to a rookie rules transgression but has now made a late bid for glory, threatening long-time stage leader Elodie Bonafous of Quéguiner-La Vie en Rose. Tuduri and Jules Delpech of ORCOM were coming in with speed, having worked an inshore, easterly route down the Vendée coast past La Rochelle. Both were looking like they might get a share of the time bonuses for passing the Intermediate Sprint line buoy. 

The fleet of 31 boats has been making solid progress under spinnaker today, allowing the exhausted solo skippers to grab some short catnaps to recharge their batteries. Despite this, the main peloton led by Bonafous remains very tightly packed, with less than five miles between the top ten and two miles separating the top five. 

Basile Bourgnon of EDENRED still holds the advantage in the battle for overall top honours, but Tuduri's late surge has made the final leg worth watching. Bourgnon won Stage 2 and is directly in front of Corentin Horeau of Banque Populaire and Lois Berrehar of Skipper MACIF 2022 respectively. His main goal now will be to monitor Horeau's every move and cover him as much as possible on what should be a one-upwind leg 140 miles back to Piriac-sur-Mer on the French Loire Atlantique coast just west of La Baule. 

Irish sailor Tom Dolan of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan is also in a good position, currently in ninth place, and has a chance to make some gains as they converge on the mark, only six miles off the coast between Arcachon and the entrance to the Gironde Estuary. 

As the race enters its final stages, the excitement is palpable, with Tuduri's comeback story adding a thrilling twist to the proceedings.

Published in Figaro

Irish sailor Tom Dolan is preparing for the final stage of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, bracing himself for another bout of light winds that could present a significant challenge.

Dolan, who sails for Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan, had a disappointing second stage of the race, falling from first to 19th place after being becalmed for 16 hours before the finish in Roscoff.

Despite his setback, Dolan remains positive and aims to finish the race on a high note. He acknowledges, however, that his chances of finishing on the overall podium are slim, as he currently sits 15 hours and 13 minutes behind race leader Basile Bourgnon of France.

The final stage of the race has been shortened due to predicted light winds, with the 32-boat fleet now covering a distance of 470 miles instead of the planned 630 nautical miles. The course will take them to a mark on the French Atlantic coast between Arcachon and the mouth of the Gironde river, where Bordeaux sits.

Dolan is expecting a challenging race, with light, flukey winds and a ridge of high pressure to navigate. He is hoping to be the first to get across the ridge, giving him an advantage over his rivals. However, he acknowledges that the course will be complicated, with a mix of land and sea breezes, currents, and calm areas to navigate.

Despite the challenges, Dolan is determined to focus on the process, taking each leg of the race as it comes and not being emotional. He admits that he is a bit tired, having only had two nights in a bed, but he is looking forward to the race and expects to have little sleep due to the stop-start nature of the race.

The leaders are expected to arrive in Piriac-sur-Mer on Thursday, and Dolan will be hoping to secure a podium finish in the final stage of the race.

Published in Tom Dolan

Under pressure from one of the title favourites, Corentin Horeau (Banque Populaire), 21-year-old Basile Bourgnon (EDENRED) held his nerve in very light wind conditions on Thursday evening (7 September) to win the very challenging second stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, crossing the finish line Roscoff on the Bay of Morlaix at 17:59:44 local time.

Finishing on a near windless glassy sea — the only ripples made by the wakes of their Figaro Bénéteau 3 one designs — Bourgnon’s impressive victory, just 3 minutes and 24 seconds ahead of Horeau, was all down to the last gybe and layline to the finish line.

The youngest skipper triumphed in a slow motion match race which had his rival progressively closing him down over the final nerve racking hours of what has been very tough 570-nautical-miles leg from Kinsale where the 32-strong fleet started last Sunday afternoon.

The leg has been marked not only by numerous stop-starts and five different leaders including both Bourgnon and Horeau, but significant gains and losses in the strong tides of Irish Sea, the Celtic Sea and St George’s Channel.

At the northernmost turn of the passage, Chicken Rock lighthouse just to the south-west of the Isle of Man, Bourgnon was 21st at 37 miles behind the then leader, French rookie Hugo Dhallene (YC Saint Lunaire).

Even last night Bourgnon was still in 13th place, nearly four miles behind leaders Gaston Morvan (Région Bretagne-CMB Performance) and Horeau, who is racing his seventh La Solitaire. But once again Bourgnon had done his homework and stuck to his own plan, going rock=hopping round Land’s End from where he emerged with a small lead over Horeau which he held to the finish.

Fifth on Stage 1, some 14 minutes behind winner Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan), Bourgnon has worked tirelessly in training this winter and spring.

He now follows in the wake of his late father Laurent, who went on to become a legendary Swiss ocean racer before he was lost in a diving accident in 2015. The first ever rookie to do so, Laurent Bourgnon won the Solitaire in 1988 at the age of 22, going on to win the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Route du Rhum in the colours of Primagaz.

Laurent’s La Solitaire win shares a common theme with his son’s. It came in similar light winds, but Laurent’s was at the end of the third and decisive final stage from Kinsale. Racing the oldest half-tonner in the fleet, he crossed the line into Quiberon whereupon the breeze died and he secured victory ahead of Alain Gautier while the rest of the fleet struggled to finish.

Basile Bourgnon talks to the media after his arrival in Roscoff | Credit: Vincent OlivaudBasile Bourgnon talks to the media after his arrival in Roscoff | Credit: Vincent Olivaud

Basile Bourgnon’s first stage win (subject to jury and any protests) gives him the overall lead on the General Classification. And with a slow, painful finish into the night in prospect for many rivals, he may carry a useful margin into Stage 3 from Roscoff across the Bay of Biscay and back to the final finish into Piriac.

As he told Le Figaro last year, during his debut in the race, Basile only learned of his father’s successes later in his youth: “I really learned more about his career after his tragic death in 2015, meeting people in the sailing industry and his friends like Thomas Coville who inspired me and told his stories. Before that he was not a top sailor but simply my dad.”

Warmly welcomed in Roscoff by the crowds from the towns and villages around the Bay of Morlaix, where La Solitaire aces such are Armel Le Cléac’h, Jérémie Beyou and Nico Troussel all grew up, Baaile Bourgnon — who like Horeau is from La Trinité — said: “I was pleased to get back up to the front. I tried something early on that I thought would make all the difference, but on the first morning’s rankings I was a long way back. But as time went on, the further we went, the better it got for me.

“Looking at the weather, I saw there were opportunities and that those in front would be slowed down. I was incredibly lucky in a corridor of wind off the English coast. I started to fly. I caught Corentin and then it was all match racing. It was scary right to the finish. The wind dropped off in Morlaix Bay.”

Overall runner-up in 2014 and winner of the Solo Concarneau in the weeks leading up to this race, Horeau (34) said: “It was a stressful race, as when you’re out in front, you know the others are chasing you. I would have liked to win the leg, but he was better. I tried to catch him right to the finish and it was very close, so well done to him!

“There isn’t much time between us in the overall rankings. We talked it over on the VHF when we were some way back. He said in 2019 Armel was back in 19th place but ended up fifth. It’s exciting looking at the rankings. Gaston was up there and went straight on, while the others went around him I think. I felt relaxed and sailed well.

“I’m pleased to have got back in the game from a long way back. I really worked hard from Land’s End to leave the others behind me. At the finish I thought I would pull it off, but I got stuck just before the finish line. I so wanted to win!”

Skipper MACIF 2022’s Lois Berrehar took third place, finishing 30 minutes and 30 seconds after Basile Bourgnon. He said: “I had a hard time with this race and this stage. It really is a thankless race. This really is the finish line, and until it is crossed, anything can happen. You have to stay hyper-focused and give your all at all times. That's why it's tough.

“The last time I stood on a stage podium in La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec was in 2020. I must admit that I missed this a lot! I have often been at the front but rarely rewarded. From the start, I was a bit behind but I knew that the course was still long so I had a pretty good feeling There is still one stage left. Lots of things are going to happen. I will do everything I can to do even better.”

At 2100 local time the best positioned international skipper is David Paul (sailingpoint.co/Just A Drop) in 20th with a little over 14 miles to the finish line. Tom Dolan is 25th with 16 miles to sail — like all the sailors around them both were making less than one knot boat speed.

Published in Figaro
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Irish sailor Tom Dolan, who won the first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, has dropped to 16th place on the second leg.

Gaston Morvan from Region Bretagne-CMB Performance, who made a bold move to the east to work the rugged Welsh coast, has taken the lead with a gain of nearly a dozen miles.

Morvan's move allowed him to get back on track and lead the second stage towards Land's End this Wednesday evening.

Corentin Horeau from Banque Populaire has also made gains on the strength of the same move and is now in fifth place. The young French rookie Benoit Tuduri from Capso en Cavale, who crossed the finish line first into Kinsale but was penalized 30 minutes for a class rules infringement, is fourth.

With unpredictable weather conditions expected for the rest of the stage, it remains to be seen who will come out on top when the leg finishes on Thursday.

Published in Figaro
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Irish sailor Tom Dolan is holding steady in eighth place as the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec enters its second stage. Dolan remains just under seven miles behind the leader, race veteran Alexis Loison of Groupe REEL, who took control of the stage as the fleet raced back down the Saint George's Channel.

Loison, competing in his 17th challenge, is looking to put his name on the list of overall winners. However, his nearest rival on this stage, Norman protégé Guillaume Pirouelle of Région Normandie, remains just under five miles behind.

The leaders are facing light winds as they pass the tidal currents of entrance to the Bristol Channel before taking on Land's End on Wednesday. Many of the pre-race favourites find themselves way behind where they would expect to be in this 32-strong fleet.

Despite the slow start, they can still hold on to hopes of compression and a chance to catch up before Land's End or even right at the finish off Roscoff

Published in Figaro

Irish sailor Tom Dolan battles strong tides and light winds to climb up the leaderboard on the second stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro, the famous French offshore sailing race. Dolan, the winner of stage 1, is currently in tenth place, trailing French rookie Hugo Dhallene, who leads the fleet as they race north to the most northerly turn of a 570-mile course to the Bay of Morlaix. 

The climb to Chicken Rock lighthouse, south of the Isle of Man, is not for the faint-hearted among the 32 solo skippers competing in the race. The combination of strong tides, periods of light winds, and different strategic options creates big gaps in the fleet. 

Dhallene, an experienced offshore racer from Saint-Malo, led through the Intermediate Sprint at South Arklow, gaining himself a 5 minutes time bonus. Dolan was around 40 minutes behind but key for him is having some pre-race favourites like Gaston Morvan, Corentin Horeau, and Basile Bourgnon even further behind. Bourgnon – fifth into Kinsale – was two hours behind the leader at the so-called ‘sprint’ mark. 

Race Director Yann Chateau announced earlier in the day that the fleet will sail the long course, round the rock south of the Isle of Man rather than a possible shorter course which would have turned south offshore of Dublin Bay. The race is expected to finish in the Bay of Morlaix on Thursday, with the most optimistic models seeing the first finisher during the day and the most pessimistic in the evening.

Hugo Dhallenne (YC de Saint-Lunaire), after passing the mark of South Arklow:  “That's it, the intermediate sprint is over. Now to head due north to find Chicken Rock, near the Isle of Man. It is always upwind. The current is quite strong here. For the moment, we have it with us, but it will soon be reversed. We take every little thing we can take, and then you have to deal with it. It's very nice to pass a mark in the lead on the Solitaire, especially 24 hours after the start. But the stage is far from over. There is still work to do, I want to stay at the front.”

Published in Figaro

Tom Dolan, the Irish solo sailor who won the first leg of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, has made a solid start in the second stage of the competition. The leg, which covers over 500 miles from Kinsale in Ireland to Roscoff on the Bay of Morlaix, promises to be a light winds affair with plenty of opportunities for the fleet to expand and contract in the strong tidal currents.

Despite not having a boat-on-boat dinghy racing background, Dolan has been proving himself on the longer courses. He made a good start in the second stage, finishing tenth out of the bay in good company just behind some of his closest rivals. However, after 30 miles of racing, he had dropped into 20th place and was two miles behind the early leader Romen Richard of France.

Before leaving the dock in Kinsale, Dolan said, "The leg looks tricky. I feel good now. The start looks quite clear, we will be sailing downwind along the coast in the sea-breeze. Tonight there could be a big split. Some of the weather models are sending us offshore, others are telling us to hug the coast, there are two extremes."

The course will take the solo sailors up to a mark in the Irish Sea, most likely to be offshore of Dun Laoghaire, and Spanish sailor Pep Costa, who is weather adviser to some of the international sailors, has described it as "a very tricky leg." Costa added, "It is going to be mostly a light winds leg with thermal winds today transitioning into a very very light winds zone before coming into a light north to north east wind for later tonight. So they will be very close to the coast under spinnakers. Downwind it is very close to VMG and then tonight into a NE to E wind. They will go offshore and tack in the NE’ly maybe a few tacks to Tuskar rock. The breeze will fill in around 10-15 knots but the current is quite strong so they need to be close to the shore when the current is against them and offshore when it is with them."

Gaston Morvan of Région Bretagne CMB won the Paprec Trophy for the first around the short, departure circuit, just as he also led away from Caen a week ago.

Standings after Stage 1

  • 1 Tom Dolan, IRL, (Smurfit Kappa-KIngspan) 3d 19h 16m 46 s
  • 2 Nils Palmieri, SUI, (Teamwork) 3d 19h 23m 13s + 6 min 27 sec
  • 3 Robin Marais, FRA, (Moi Chance Moi Aussi) 3d 19h 23m 13s + 8 min 17 sec
  • 4 Benoit Tuduri, FRA, (Capso en Cavale) 3d 19h00m 25s (+30 mins penalty) +13 mins 39 sec
  • 5 Basile Bourgnon, FRA, (Edenred) 3d 19h 31m 05 s +14 min 18 secs
  • 6 Romain Le Gall, FRA, (Centre Excellence Voile Secours Populaire) 3d 19h 32m 52s + 16m 06s
  • 7 Alexis Loison, FRA, (Groupe REEL) 3d 19h 32m 55 s + 16 m 09s
  • 8 Elodie Bonafous, FRA (Queguiner La Vie en Rose) 3d 19h 33m 07s +16m 21s
  • 9 Lois Berrehar, FRA, (Skipper MACIF 2022) 3d19h 33m 16m +16m 30s
  • 10 Guillaume Pirouelle, FRA, (Region Normandie) 3d 19h 33m 32s +16m 46 sec
Published in Figaro

Tom Dolan, the winner of Stage 1 of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec, has been making waves in the sailing world as the first Irish skipper to win a leg of the French solo offshore race in 25 years.

The 36-year-old Dolan, who grew up on a farm in County Meath, won the first stage of the race which finished on Thursday in Kinsale, Ireland. Despite becoming the hometown hero, Dolan has been keeping his feet on the ground and preparing for Stage 2. 

As the first Irish, or indeed north European, skipper to win a leg of the French solo offshore race in 25 years, 36-year-old Dolan – who grew up on a farm in County Meath – smiled quietly, ‘Not bad for a mucksavage from upcountry’ referring to his early life looking after livestock in all weathers.

Dolan, the skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan, has a lead of just six minutes and 27 seconds over Swiss rival Nils Palimeri and a handy 16 minutes over a posse of top Figaro racers. But as the next stage promises to be contested in very light winds and with very strong spring tide coefficients, Dolan cautions that the next leg is not one to win the Solitaire on, but one that can be lost on, "especially leaving on very, very strong Spring tides and at Anglesey, you have to be very careful. There won’t be anyone called ‘Dolan’ going off on their own this time."

The next stage, north out of Kinsale into the Saint George’s Channel, either to Chicken Rock south of the Isle of Man or to ODAS M2 weather buoy off Dun Laoghaire before turning south to a finish off Roscoff, promises to be a light winds stage. According to sailors Loïs Berrehar and Chloé Le Bars, the main difficulty will be deciding if or when to leave the group to try things, especially since it is never easy to sail in light winds and to play with the thermal wind, the night breeze, and all these elements while they are all so tight and close in terms of space.

Piers Copham, a sailor from GBR Les Voiles des Anges, shared that the first leg was not great but he learned that if he didn't train, he wouldn't sail and wouldn't get a result. Copham is pleased to be here and is here to learn. He has a goal, which is to participate in the Vendée Globe in the colors of Les Voiles des Anges.

The Kinsale start of the second leg will be at 12 noon on Sunday. The start line will likely be positioned south of the Bullman buoy with a turning mark to the south-east and then to Daunt Buoy.

Published in Figaro

Ireland's Tom Dolan took a career-high second place this morning, sailing into Kinsale to complete the first 610-mile leg of the La Solitaire du Figaro Race.

After rounding the Fastnet Rock, Dolan finished at 08.18 hours into a drizzly Kinsale Harbour in County Cork, 16 minutes behind leg winner Benoit Tuduri, after three days of hard solo sailing from the start in Caen, France. 

The County Meath sailor took three days, 19 hours, 16 minutes and 46 seconds to complete the theoretical 610-mile course of the first leg. In practice, he covered 642.23 miles at an average speed of 7.04 knots.

The 36-year-old sailor is taking part in La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec for the sixth time.

The result on the first step of the three-stage 1850 miles race to Piriac sur Mer on the French Atlantic coast, sets up Dolan for the rest of the event with a useful cushion – around 14 minutes - over what can be considered his normal rivals.

When he crossed the finish line it was relief which was Dolan’s primary emotion. In truth he has no more local knowledge than is accumulated and disseminated through the fleet’s by coaching and support staff.

Being solo and with no outside assistance or communication, once on the ocean the skippers only get the most basic weather information and their position in the fleet from race direction. Each sailor leaves the dock with a detailed road book of different weather scenarios, their homework done.

But the Irish skipper admits the extra mental pressure of his own and other peoples’ expectations of coming to Ireland weighed very heavily on him as well as last month having had a disappointing Solo Concarneau Guy Cotten – the de facto dress rehearsal before the ‘big one’.

“It was great coming in this morning, there were loads of people out to welcome me which was really touching.” Grinned the exhausted Dolan, clearly ‘running on fumes.’ “I always feel more pressure on this leg ‘home’ to Ireland, it messes with your head because I want to do well. So there is a lot of relief. A lot. Earlier in the year when I found the race was coming to Kinsale I was immediately getting a bit nervous because there it is. coming to my ‘home’. I was worried and the last time we raced in here I did terrible.”
Of his decision to stay east he said, “I had this huge wind shift to the left and tacked and was pointing at the Fastnet. I stacked the stuff, tidied the boat a bit and said to myself ‘right, who will be the first to tack but no one did. And of course it was night so I could not see anyone. I had a second thought to go back but it made no sense. And the tide was perfect for me.”

He summarise, “It was a really typical Figaro leg. We started a very shifty wind with the whole pack compacted up together and looking at each other, seizing each other up, and then doing maybe 50 tacks and sailed 100 miles to get to the first mark because the wind was shifting around so much. It was non stop all the time. And then at the Scillies the fleet exploded and opened up a bit. You are thinking you are great thinking you are awful, thinking you are doing great, thinking you are awful thinking you are great. You start imagining a great finish and reel yourself in..It was a really classic Figaro leg. And at one stage some of the favourites are 20 miles behind and they still catch up. I thought the lead over them would have been a bit more, but I’ll take it.”

Looking back at the intensity of the course he said, “I am tired. These two or three occluded fronts, so dying depressions, meant the wind was all over the place, never steady. It seems like it was never settled for more than fifteen minutes, so you really got small, snatched naps.”

Now he has two days and two nights to recover before Stage 2 to Roscoff via the Isle of Man and the Welsh coast which starts on Sunday at 1302hrs.

A delighted Tom Dolan in Kinsale after achieving second place in the first leg of the Figaro Race Photo: Alexis CourcouxA delighted Tom Dolan in Kinsale after achieving second place in the first leg of the Figaro Race Photo: Alexis Courcoux

The next leg of the La Solitaire du Figaro race will take the sailors from Kinsale to Morlaix via the Isle of Man, covering a distance of around 600 miles.

Tom Dolan is looking forward to this leg as it's his favourite one. He has previously sailed this leg twice and is hoping to make up some ground on the leader during this leg.

With his impressive performance in the first leg, Dolan has proven himself to be a strong contender for the overall title in the race. He is determined to give his best shot during the remaining legs of the race and make Ireland proud.

Published in Figaro

Tom Dolan of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan is making his mark in the Solitaire du Figaro ace as he positions himself to the west alongside leader Basil Bourgnon of Edenred.

Dolan is currently in sixth place and well-prepared for racing across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet. Dolan has previously sailed to the Fastnet many times as a sailing instructor in Baltimore with the Glénans school, giving him an advantage in the race.

Meanwhile, the leaders are due to pass Land’s End, a decisive section of the 610 nautical miles first stage from Caen to Kinsale.

The top four solo skippers are currently separated by only one-third of a mile, and the Traffic Separation lanes at the Scillies may shake up the leading group.

The solo skippers are experiencing fatigue as they enter their third night at sea, but the conditions have been favourable so far with no big breeze and no prolonged calms.

Published in Figaro
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About the ILCA/Laser Dinghy

The ILCA, formerly known as the Laser, is the most produced boat in the world, with 220,000 units built since 1971.

It's easy to see why the single-handed dinghy has won the title of the most widely distributed boat of all time.

The Laser is a one-design dinghy, the hulls being identical but three rigs that can be used according to the size and weight of the sailor.

The class is international, with sailors from 120 countries. The boat has also been an Olympic class since 1996, being both the men's and women's singlehanded dinghy.

Three rigs are recognised by the International Laser Class Association (ILCA):

  • ILCA 4: sail of 4.70m2
  • ILCA 6: sail of 5.76 m2
  • ILCA 7: sail of 7.06 m2