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Rested and ready, Tom Dolan fully prepared for La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec

by Tom Dolan 23 Aug 2023 13:49 PDT
Race village of la Solitaire du Figaro Paprec © Alexis Courcoux

A short summer 'staycation' - enjoying time resting and relaxing around his French home in Concarneau, Brittany - has been the final part of Irish skipper Tom Dolan's preparations for the 1850 nautical miles, three stage 2023 La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec solo offshore race which starts Sunday from Caen, Normandy and heads to Piriac-sur-mer via stops in Kinsale in his native Ireland and Roscoff in northern Brittany. The pre-race rest was vital. The skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan identified how he was teetering on the edge of burnout a few weeks ago, following a busy season so far which included the Solo Maître CoQ, the Laura Vergne Trophy, his record attempt around Ireland, the Tour de Bretagne à la Voile and the Solo Guy Cotten - Concarneau. This last race should have served as a final dress rehearsal for La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec and Dolan was hoping for a podium but a couple of lacklustre results was a warning that he was tired and consequently made costly errors and he finished 12th overall.

"It is all good now. I am well rested, relaxed and ready. I have spent the last few weeks at home because I just did not want to add any stress by going on holiday at this point before the race. So I've stayed home, maximised my sleeping, eating very well, doing some sport and just chilling out as much as possible." Said Dolan on board Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan amidst the line up of 32 skippers in Caen ready to start this annual pinnacle race.

"I realised that it was basic mistakes that had cost me in the Solo Guy Cotten. That was the warning signs. I was tired and now two or three weeks later I am ready to go." Dolan acknowledged.

Seventh last year and a career best fifth overall in 2020, Dolan is hoping to make it on to the podium overall this time, his sixth La Solitaire du Figaro. He considers that although his fifth remains his hight water mark, he raced better and more consistently last year.

"I feel like I was always up there with the top group where I belong, always in the match and that is good for your confidence. I was making good starts and making good decisions. So I want as much as possible to replicate that approach this time. I was one decision away from the podium last time." He asserts.

Of course he his looking forwards to being back in Kinsale in Ireland but points out that such is the focus required on sleep, rest and recovery during the short two day stop that, other than the scenery and the ambience, his time there will feel very much like other stops.

"I love being back, but it is not like being home. I love the scenery coming in and leaving and the Fastnet and so on, but I can't let that divert me, it is not like I get time to see friends and family and relax, it is like everywhere else in that you just need to sleep as much as possible, eat well, hydrate and stay in the zone." He says.

The 2019 race to Kinsale proved to be a really decisive first leg where many of the favourites lost six to eight hours on the leaders on the stage out to the Fastnet. These legs to the Fastnet have either been very good or bad for the Irish skipper.

"I guess I have a certain level of trepidation and it is the leg I am maybe most nervous about, but the second stage has strong tides round Anglesey and the Channel Islands where you can gain or lose a lot, but I am just getting into the same mindset as last year, looking to control the controllables and not let small errors become big problems." Concludes Dolan.

Among the changes he hopes will contribute to a best ever La Solitaire, he is banning himself from sugary snacks and chocolate this race which may give energy bursts but lead to slumps, instead focusing in small meals as often as possible.

"No more dinners of chocolate," he pledges.

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