Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops 2022 May LEADERBOARD

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

New patron of La Solitaire du Figaro
Damien Seguin says he is incredibly proud to be chosen The French three-time Paralympic Games medalist, winner of two gold and once silver who is a five-time world champion became the first disabled sports skipper to complete the Vendée Globe when he finished the 2020-2021 edition in seventh place. Posted on 10 Aug
The perfect dress rehearsal for Tom Dolan
The 400 miles Solo Guy Cotten race starts on Thursday Tom Dolan will start the 400 miles Solo Guy Cotten race on Thursday with high hopes of repeating or bettering his fifth place result in this final 'dress rehearsal' race before La Solitaire du Figaro which starts in less than three weeks time. Posted on 3 Aug
34 skippers to compete in La Solitaire du Figaro
53rd edition includes five women and nine rookies The starting gun for the first stage of the 53rd edition of La Solitaire du Figaro will sound on August 21, off Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef in the Loire-Atlantique after the fleet has paraded up the Loire from Nantes. Posted on 29 Jul
Experience Figaro sailing at the highest level
Come sailing with the Offshore Racing Academy at the Figaro Nationals Are you interested in shorthanded offshore racing? Posted on 24 Jul
Entries open for 16th Transat Paprec
First ever transatlantic race for mixed male/female double-handed crews Entries are now open for the 16th edition of the Transat Paprec - the first ever transatlantic race for mixed male/female double-handed crews, starting on April 30th, 2023. Posted on 23 Jul
Flagstaff Marine's display at Sydney Boat Show
Join us at Sydney's International Boat Show 2022 We have the new breed of cat from Groupe Beneteau, Excess, and the glamorous NEW Oceanis 40.1/46.1 on display at Marina #129 that we'd love for you to come and view. Posted on 16 Jul
Marina Militare Nastro Rosa Tour: Closes in Venice
Taking ten teams on a journey through wonderful Italian locations less known by mass tourism Grand finale in Venice for Marina Militare Nastro Rosa Tour, a regatta organized by Difesa Servizi SPA, SSI Events and Marina Militare that from June 12th took ten teams on a journey through wonderful Italian locations less known by mass tourism. Posted on 11 Jul
Marina Militare Nastro Rosa Tour: Grand Finale
Team ENIT claims victory in the last leg from Ancona to Venice Grand finale in Venice for the Navy Nastro Rosa Tour, traveling regatta organized by Difesa Servizi SPA, SSI Events and Marina Militare, which brought ten teams traveling through wonderful Italian locations lines less jokes by mass tourism. Posted on 10 Jul
Nastro Rosa Tour: Team IREN takes the lead
Ancona leg redefines the general ranking of this event Although it lasted only two days, the Ancona leg of the Marina Militare Nastro Rosa Tour redefined the general ranking of this event organized by Difesa e Servizi S.p.A. in collaboration with SSI Events and Marina Militare. Posted on 7 Jul
Marina Militare Nastro Rosa Tour: Sprint to Venice
The situation in the standings is more balanced than ever After the event of Vieste, where the Marina Militare Nastro Rosa Tour stayed for the last four days, giving emotions to the public and competitive regattas for the protagonists of the three involved categories - Wingfoil, Waszp and Offshore Posted on 6 Jul
McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 FOOTERRooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTERArmstrong-Logo-Only-728x90 gif BOTTOM