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Tom Dolan takes on final solo test before La Solitaire du Figaro

by Tom Dolan Racing 22 Jul 09:43 PDT 22 July 2021
Tom Dolan starts the Solo Concarneau Trophée Guy Cotten © Tom Dolan Racing

Tom Dolan set off this afternoon on his final solo offshore race test before La Solitaire du Figaro, starting the 33 boat 380 nautical miles Solo Concarneau Trophée Guy Cotten.

After a season which so far has largely been dominated by double-handed races, the Irish skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan is relishing the return to solo sailing and looking to return a good result before the year's pinnacle event, the four stage La Solitaire du Figaro which starts 22ndAugust.

The course takes the fleet northwards to a turning mark off the island of Ushant before turning to the south and sailing to a southernmost turn at the Rochebonne Plateau, south of Les Sables d'Olonne and the Vendée coast.

Although the northwest of France has been sharing the same heatwave conditions - fiery temperatures and only very light winds - that have prevailed in the north of Europe over recent days, the weather is set to change Friday with thunderstorms as the prelude to an Atlantic low pressure system between Friday and Saturday ushering in rain and strong breezes.

"I am really looking forwards to being solo again. I have learned a lot from both my co-skippers recently but it is time to go solo and put that into practice. I feel pretty sharp because I have sailed so many miles already this season." Said Dolan before leaving the home port of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan Concarneau.

"We might see 30 knots into the finish on Saturday but before that there will be a bit of just about everything. So for sure this race is not going to be over until the finish line and anything can happen." Dolan explains, "And all the names are out here on this race and so it is a good benchmark prior to La Solitaire. On the one hand you want a good result to give a bit of confidence going forwards to La Solitaire, on the other hand you really don't want a bad race at this stage as it might have the opposite effect. The main thing will to stay alert and focused."

"The most difficult aspects are the conflicting effects of the gradient, synoptic wind (the wind generated by the weather systems) and the sea breezes (thermal winds caused by temperature differences between sea and land) and then there is a low pressure trough which we are literally sailing along rather than across and so the weather will be very unpredictable." Dolan outlines.

The skipper told the race media, " The main difficulty will clearly be this trough Friday morning which will generate clouds and thunderstorms and we risk getting stuck for a while. That said there might be opportunities here too. Then it will be speed more we should finish the course under a gennaker with 25 knots of wind going fast on the edge. Racing solo always adds a dose of adrenaline that I can't wait to get back to. I'm all the more motivated as I'm racing from home. I really want to sail well and finish with a feeling of a job well done. The last two stages of the Tour de Bretagne à là Voile didn't go too well for me and I don't like to be stuck with a bad feeling. With La Solitaire fast approaching, I want to build up my confidence. "

The race is expected to finish back into Concarneau Saturday afternoon. Dolan finished 14th on this race last year.

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