Please select your home edition
Edition
September 2022

52nd La Solitaire du Figaro Stage 4 Day 2: Green green grass of home drawing Dolan towards Fastnet

by Andi Robertson 13 Sep 2021 12:35 PDT 13 September 2021

Irish skipper Tom Dolan leads Stage 4 of La Solitaire du Figaro towards the Fastnet Rock and the waters where he did his first real offshore sailing as a sailing instructor out of Baltimore more than a dozen years ago.

A bold move while passing the Scillies and Land's End gave the skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan a small lead which he increased through the late morning and early afternoon today. The passage to the Fastnet has been good in the past for Dolan who was in the lead group, rounding third behind Xavier Macaire in 2019.

After leaving Roscoff yesterday at 1600hrs on the 685 miles final stage of the race to Saint Nazaire Dolan took the lead early this morning when he chose to pass to the west of the Lands End exclusion zone close to the Scilly Isles while the main pack, led by Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) who is second overall on the General Classification, stayed closer to the tip of Cornwall. The Irishman, who has not stepped on the home soils since La Solitaire du Figaro went to Kinsale in 2019, sailed closer to the rhumb line - the most direct route - and had more breeze which gave him a speed edge of up to two knots at times. French rookies Philippe Hartz (Marine Nationale-Fondation de Mer) and Mael Garnier (Ageas-Team Baie de Saint-Brieuc) went west too and lay second and third, Hartz more than five miles behind.

Compared with the disappointed skipper who arrived in 19th into Roscoff on what has been a disappointing La Solitaire du Figaro so far, having finished fifth overall last year, it was, however a much more upbeat, chirpy Dolan who spoke in French to the media team on board the Race Direction's guard boat in the middle of the Celtic Sea.

"I was kinda expecting this ranking following my route to the west of TSS. I knew I was ahead but I didn't know by how much. It's great to be in this position, especially when I feel like I'm heading homewards towards Ireland. I come from a small town which is in the north east of Ireland, north of Dublin, almost on the border with Northern Ireland." He told the race media team on board the guard boat.

Explaining his strategy he said, " I had seen from the files that it was more wind in the west, and that there was something to do. I lost everyone with the fog last night and the AIS not working. I had my doubts, I thought I was the only one going that way. But we have also Philippe (Hartz) and Maël (Garnier) I think it was them as I heard them talking in the radio. The Fastnet, I must have passed it about 50 times because I spent a lot of time in Baltimore, and we often went out there often."

"Right now the sun is shining, it's great if a bit rare at this time of year. I'm afraid there won't be much wind when I get to the lighthouse. This morning, I slept a lot and now I'm steering a lot to get to the Fastnet because I would like to get round before the bad wind arrives. I feel like I'm on the right timing I think, I have my fingers crossed, I might get some good luck from Ireland. "

The situation ahead, as forecasters predicted, looks messy and complicated and the leaders will be first to face a complicated zone of light winds. Some models show an occluded front passing across the fleet slowly from west to east around midnight, just before the leaders should be at the Fastnet Rock, others are not so clear. If Dolan can hold the lead and the luck of the Irish offers him a perfect transition he - or the leader - could come away with a new NW'ly breeze. Alternatively a windless, sticky mass is also shown on other weather models. Recent routings have the fleet leaders well ahead of the original timings.

In English Dolan said, "I am happy with my position at about 80 miles from the Fastnet, I think we will arrive there about midnight Irish time, it will be a bit of a pig because I was looking forwards to seeing Ireland, so I won't see much of it this time around. I am happy to be going there just the same. The conditions are fairly good at the moment. I have around 20-24kts of wind and am under big spinnaker with a bit of swell over the back of the boat and I am pushing along at 12-13-14kts. I am happy with what happened. On the GRIB files I had seen there was a but more wind in the west and sailed very low and it seemed to work. I was a bit doubtful heading into the fog but here we are, voila, voila."

At 1700hrs BST/1800hrs CET France Tom Dolan was leading by 5.4 miles from Hartz but fourth placed Macaire had cut nearly five miles from the Irish skipper's lead during the afternoon to be just over seven miles behind. Italian-American double Olympian Francesca Clapcich (Fearless-State Street Marathon Sailing) was having a good stage so far in 12th.

Xavier Macaire (Groupe SNEF) this morning, "It went well last night I was on a little bit of an option to the west to leeward of the fleet. It was a bit risky at first as the wind picked up in the east and I saw the other guys speed up up first. I was a little afraid that I had made a small mistake. I persisted in that option to leeward and it paid off in the end when I got to Land's End and TSS. At first, I wanted to be able to switch either side of the TSS to the west or the east. But it shifted and I came back to the east at speed on a good angle. There's going to be quite a bit of slack, erratic winds, but at the moment it's relatively stable with 10-12 knots southeast on the route to the Fastnet. I managed to get some rest. I took a few short naps. Everything is fine, the boat is fine, so am I It's nice to be in front and to have played a nice option. It reminds me of the 3rd stage when I passed Land's End in the lead. But, I keep a cool head, a lot is going to happen so I stay focused and zen. A lot of us went east, I don't think there were a lot that went west. The bulk of the fleet is behind me and beside me. You can't know for sure, there may be surprises, but given the timing we had, we were quick on the sleeve crossing and that was the right thing to do."

www.lasolitaire.com/en

Related Articles

Kenny Rumball reflects on La Solitaire du Figaro
The early season events and performances results-wise and on the water were very promising A lot of planning and preparation went into this years Solitaire, from as early as January I was out in France training, primarily in the Centre Excellence Voile in La Rochelle under the tutelage of coach Etienne Saiz. Posted on 18 Sep
Dolan finishes 7th overall in Solitaire du Figaro
An exhausted Dolan was objective, pleased to have again finished inside the top 10 Top Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan has taken seventh overall on the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro, the three-stage French solo offshore race which finished last night in Saint Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire estuary on the Atlantic coast. Posted on 8 Sep
Tom Laperche wins overall La Solitaire du Figaro
Elodie Bonafous makes history, Nils Palmieri top international Sometimes it is the early legs of La Solitaire du Figaro which shape the final outcome. But it was a brutally tough third stage, back and forth across the Bay of Biscay to the rugged Spanish coast, which decided 2022's champion. Posted on 8 Sep
Tom Laperche wins 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro
Stage 3 victory seals title ahead of nearest rival, Guillaume Pirouelle When French solo skipper Tom Laperche crossed the finish line off Saint-Nazaire at the entrance to the Loire estuary this blustery Wednesday evening at 18:54:48hrs local time to win the third and final stage of the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro Posted on 7 Sep
Big Wednesday to decide La Solitaire du Figaro
In a thrilling marathon downwind sprint across the Bay of Biscay The destination of the 2022 La Solitaire du Figaro title hangs in the balance and will be decided over the course of one 270 nautical miles long, thrilling marathon downwind sprint across the Bay of Biscay. Posted on 6 Sep
53rd La Solitaire du Figaro stage 3 day 2
No quarter… a head-to-head title match? With just over 120 nautical miles to sail to the Farallones turning mark which lies just off the rugged north Spanish coast near to Gijon, the two leading title contenders on the third and final leg of the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro continue to race Posted on 5 Sep
Dolan starts La Solitaire Final Leg
A full Irish breakfast proves the perfect build up A full Irish breakfast cooked in the early morning by his partner seemed to do the trick for solo sailor Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan) as he made probably his most assured, confident start yet of his La Solitaire du Figaro career. Posted on 4 Sep
La Solitaire du Figaro Stage 3
Ahead is a complex finale - a Biscay showdown In beautiful September sunshine and a light SE'ly breeze the 32 strong fleet of the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro left the high cliffs and beautiful beaches of Royan, and the strong tidal currents at the mouth of the Gironde estuary behind them. Posted on 4 Sep
Fifth placed Tom Dolan in the hunt for honours
Heading into Sunday's final stage of La Solitaire du Figaro Ireland's leading solo offshore racer Tom Dolan, skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan heads into Sunday's final stage of La Solitaire du Figaro in a formidable fifth place, full of confidence and ready to give it all as he seeks to better the fifth place Posted on 3 Sep
La Solitaire du Figaro Stage 3 starts tomorrow
Rookie Pirouelle can make history, Ireland's Dolan in the frame The third and final stage of the 53rd La Solitaire du Figaro starts tomorrow (Sunday) at midday local time. And for the third successive stage it promises to be a race of two distinct halves. Posted on 3 Sep
North Sails 2021 Innovation - FOOTERZhik 2022 Choice of Champions FOOTERMarine Resources 2022 Salary Survey FOOTER