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Displaying items by tag: Tom Dolan

After Ireland’s Tom Dolan slipped to second in the 500-mile Mini-en-Mai in the last 30 miles last Friday he shared his frustration in a searingly honest analysis of his performance. Now he has put together a video (below) from race footage to give another unique insight into his race. He say's it's the 'full version' of what went on in the Mini en Mai 2017 and how, in his words, he 'made a hames of it'.

'I still haven't become much of a cameraman or filmaker and it's a bit of a long one but voila for those who want to see a bit what it's like during a race and the intense competition there is between us', he says. 'Sorry in the middle I switch a bit into Frenglish'. 'It was the fatigue', he concludes.

Keep up to date on Tom Dolan's progress towards this October's Mini Transat in's dedicated solo sailing section here.

Published in Tom Dolan

After Ireland’s Tom Dolan slipped to second in the 500-mile Mini-en-Mai in the last 30 miles on Friday, all of Irish sailing – and a wider community of supporters internationally – shared his frustration writes W M Nixon. But those of us who followed the Yellowbrick tracker all the way into port at La Trinite sur Mer after the finish very quickly spotted that Tom’s Pogo 3 (IR 910) had been lifted out into the marina-side boatyard.

Had something occurred to explain that loss of pace in the final stage? Seaweed jammed in the rudder perhaps? Or something small but significant picked up by the keel? No so. He had simply been very diligent in being one of the first to return the tracker to the race office. The boat was still afloat with no problems. In this searingly honest analysis, he tells us how it went pear-shaped:

“Winning races is a matter of making less mistakes than everyone else. There was no sea-weed on the keel or rudder, but a big big human error on my part, so I am a bit disappointed. Here's what happened:

As we passed north of Ile de Re on the last night I has a lead of 0.3 miles over Erwan le Draoulec racing the Pogo 3 Emile Henry (the distance is from the AIS, it's sort of like our television on board, we are always glued to it). During the last night I managed to pick up the lead to 0.8 miles, but we started to get headed. We both changed from the big to the medium kite and the distance was still stable at 0.8 miles. We continued to get headed while at the same time passing close to a headland with not a lot of water. I passed over 3 metres depth at 12 knots, and in my head I was trying to guesstimate the draft of the boat when heeled at 30°!

The wind increased to around 18 knots and after a couple of knock-downs, I changed to code 5. The change cost me 0.1 miles, but the distance stayed stable. Once we passed the headland, however, we bore off by 5 degrees and as Erwan had stayed under medium he started to catch me.

This was when I lost the race. It was a bit of a strange moment and it is a problem I have had before when very tired. I couldn't decide whether to change back to the medium or not. My brain just wouldn't make up its mind.

We had spent the entire night rock-hopping around Ile de Re to shelter from the tide, and as I had been in front I had done all the navigating. Erwan has simply followed me, and waited for his time to pounce. The distance decreased, 0.5, 0.4, 0.2 and when he was just to leeward of me, panic set in and I changed back to medium.

He was now 0.3 miles ahead and I cried (again, the fatigue can be very intense). Our coach tell us the there are times when you should not try to win a race, you should simply just not lose it. All I had to was wait on his backside, and wait for him to slip up. But no - with the frustration, disappointment and fatigue, and with my brain in crazy mode, I put the nail in the coffin.

I changed sail again to put up the big kite, and with the first gust I was screaming along at 13 knots, but at 30° to the route. Meanwhile Erwan stayed on course. The lateral separation increased bit by bit, and once we got headed, it was game over. The lateral will always have to be paid back at some stage.

Voila voile, that’s sailing, that was it. So I more or less gifted him the victory with two huge mistakes. All I had to do was stay between him and the mark and keep the same sail as him, and I would have won. But he was better on the day.

On the positive side I am very happy speed-wise, especially on vmg running. But I have a sort of a new nickname "vais pas trop vite!" – “Don’t go too fast!”. It’s a double-edged sort of thing, suggesting the other guys let me sprint away, and then wait to pounce.

By the end, I’d been fighting for that lead with maybe half a dozen other boats at different stages. Erwan was 1.6 miles ahead of me at the finish. But I in turn was four miles ahead of the next boat, Pierre Chedeville’s Pogo 3 Blue Orange Games, which at mid-race had been the boat with which I’d been most directly battling for first place.

We keep learning. And it’s really touching to arrive back and see all of the support from home. Sorry I made a bit of a hames of it at the end.

All the best,


Published in Tom Dolan

The finish of the Mini-en-Mai at La Trinite sur Mer today concluded a period of frustration for Ireland’s Tom Dolan in, as he saw his wafer-thin class lead worn down by a succession of challengers in other Pogo 3s writes W M Nixon. The final and most successful of these was Erwan le Draoulec in Emile Henry, who started to show ahead in the final thirty miles.

The neck-and-neck pace for the lead which has dominated the race throughout saw other competitors fall astern as le Draoulec and Dolan speeded on their way. But try as he might, Dolan couldn’t manage to get in front again.

As they raced past the islands of Hoedic and Houat, le Draoulec got a final extra burst of speed which opened the gap, and his lead was reasonably secure the rest of the way to the finish, with his boat Emile Henry crossing the line at 15.48 local time. By this time he’d pulled out 1.6 miles on Dolan, who was across by 1600 hrs, all of four miles ahead of the next in line, Pierre Chedeville’s Blue Orange Games.

With two races now completed in the Mini 6.50 2017 series, Tom Dolan has a third and a second on the leaderboard, so it’s looking good for him overall. But for now, the thought is that for much of the race, he was looking for a win. All Irish sailing is with him.

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Ireland’s Tom Dolan maintained a narrow lead during the third night of the 500–mile Mini-en-May with his Pogo 3 (IRL 910) as the fleet made their way through inshore passages past La Rochelle and inside the Ile de Re writes W M Nixon

The long haul from the southerly turn off Royan at the mouth of the Gironde Estuary northwest back to the finish at La Trinite sur Mer has been increasingly favoured by sou’west breezes, and as of
0750 Irish time this Friday morning, he was off St Gilles and making 9.9 knots with 66.2 miles to the finish, while closest rival Erwan Le Draoulec racing another Pogo 3, Emile Henry, was half a mile astern but every bit as fast.

Both have managed to shake off closest rival Pierre Chedeville in the Pogo 3 Blue Orange Games, who now has 73.2 miles to the finish. The leaders have a drag race in prospect for the final fifty miles, with every likelihood of a Friday daylight finish.

Published in Tom Dolan

Ireland’s Tom Dolan was neck-and-neck with Pierre Chedeville and Emile Henry as their three Pogo 3s closed in on the Royan turn at 1700hrs to lead their class in the 500-mile Mini-en-Mai offshore challenge, which leaves them with 147 miles still to race back to the finish at La Trinite sur Mer writes W M Nixon

With speeds around 6.5 knots in a southerly breeze which shows a tendency to veer, they’ve currently slightly less speed than the main body of the fleet astern. But with the turn made, it’s an entirely new ball game, with the course to be shaped towards the coast and some intriguing overnight pilotage which will take them close past La Rochelle and inside the Ile de Re.

The forecasts had been for a freshening south to southwest breeze, but the weather situation is fluid, and the increasingly coastal element to the course will see many other factors coming into play.

Published in Solo Sailing
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Irish solo skipper Tom Dolan has continued to show exceptional consistency as he maintains his position at the front of the fleet through a challenging second night of the 500-mile Mini-en-Mai in the Bay of Biscay writes W M Nixon.

Low pressure systems are slowly working their way northeast across the Bay of Biscay. While the first day of the race saw winds mainly from the east helping to set a fast initial pace, the slow change in the weather has meant an uneven switch as the wind veers fitfully though southeast to what will eventually be a south to southwest breeze by tomorrow (Friday).

With a belt of rain going through to add to the unpredictable nature of the local winds, it has been an exhausting night of maximizing any small advantages that might fall his way. As of 0830hrs Irish time this morning, he had the satisfaction of knowing that he is now well through the halfway mark, with 214 miles to race to the finish back at La Trinite sur mer, though the main item on the agenda this morning continues to be getting his Pogo 3 (IRL 910) to the southerly turn off Royan at the mouth of the Gironde Estuary.

It would be easy to say things will get easier after that. But things just aren’t easy at any stage in a race sailed at this level. Currently, his speed is down at 4.4 knots, but it’s sufficient to keep him at second in class and within close company with his nearest rivals Emile Henry and Pierre Chedeville, both also sailing Pogo 3 boats, and battling with Dolan for the class lead by fractions of a mile.

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Wednesday evening update – After a difficult day in the middle of the Bay of Biscay with the fleet in the Mini-en-Mai now spread across a wide front as they close in towards the southerly turn off Royan, Tom Dolan’s consistency with his Pogo 3 IRL 910 has been remarkable writes W M Nixon. He has always been in contention for the top slot, despite speeds at time dropping practically to zero, and as of 1930hrs Irish time he was making better than six knots and recorded at different times as leading or in second place in class.

However, with the leaders now in the laitutude of Ile d’Yeu, the boats furtheast east are currently finding more poke in the now mainly nor’easterly breeze, and two of them are getting speeds of better than 7 knots as the front runners close in together again. But even as we write this, Tom’s own speed has broken through the 7 knots barrier once more - it’s very much race on.

Published in Tom Dolan

After their first night at sea, the Mini Transat boats racing the 500-mile Mini-en-Mai race in the eastern sector of the Bay of Biscay have put the navigation challenges of Western Brittany astern, and are well on their way, shaping their course southeast towards the next turn off the mouth of the Gironde Estuary writes W M Nixon

Tom Dolan of Ireland sailing the Pogo 3 held the lead in his class at 0800 Irish time this morning by a narrow margin, with 329 miles still to race. But it will be at a slower pace – he is now sailing at “only” 8.8 knots - than the speedy first day, when a brisk easterly sent the fleet hurtling northwards from the start/finish port of La Trinite sur mer.

A shallow low pressure area is headed towards Biscay, but if the leaders can manage to get far enough on their way to be south of it, there’s a chance the underlying wind will draw from the southwest. However, with two mini lows approaching ahead of it on its advance fringes, there’s a risk that for a while, conditions could become extremely flukey.

Published in Tom Dolan

Ireland’s Tom Dolan is continuing to set the pace in his Mini Pogo 3 (IRL 910) in the 500 miles Mini-en-Mai as the leaders sweep past the Iles des Glenans and on towards the Point de Penmarch in a brisk easterly, vying for the lead in the Mini 650 class with sister-ship Kerhis-Cerfrance (Tanguy Bouroullec) at speeds of between 10 and 12 knots writes W M Nixon

With the first night drawing on, they have interesting navigation and pilotage in prospect as the course takes them close along the land inside the Ile de Sein and north to a turn up towards Camaret, before heading southwest into open Atlantic and the most westerly turn in the race, following which there’s the long offshore haul southeast towards a turn off Royan, then it’s back along the land to return to La Trinite sur Mer.

The pace has been ferocious, but with slacker winds in prospect as the race moves along, it’s still a very long way to the finish in these smallest offshore racers sailing what is undoubtedly a big boys’ race.

See Tracker below: 

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After a good start which saw him in third shortly after crossing the line in the 500-mile Mini-en-Mai event for Minitrasat 650s which started today off La Trinite sur Mer on France’s Biscay coast, Ireland’s Tom Dolan is currently rated at eighth on the water in a tightly-packed fleet. Dolan featured in W M Nixon's Saturday blog here

With his speed building to 11 knots and 489 miles still to sail, he’s racing a course which is neatly divided between coast-hopping in the early and finishing stages, with a long offshore haul heading southeast well seaward of the Biscay shore in the middle.

Track Dolan and the fleet below: 

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