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Zhik 2024 March - LEADERBOARD

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan: "Staying fresh, hungry and focused are my targets this season"

by Tom Dolan Racing 11 Mar 02:30 PDT
Tom Dolan set for the Solo Guy Cotten © Gilles Dedeurwaerder

Irish solo offshore sailor Tom Dolan will start his 2024 racing season on Monday at the 48th edition of the Solo Guy Cotten determined that a slight change of approach will bring him consistently better results.

Rather than spending big chunks of his winter and spring on the water, this pre-season the skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan has prioritised his physical and mental preparation as he is seeking to be able to maintain his energy and focus at a higher level over the entire raxing year, leading to better results.

"I have been in the class for six years and I really feel like I know the Figaro Bénéteau 3 by heart and so rather than being out sailing in search for tiny percentages in speed here and there, I am trying to set myself up to have, and to retain more energy and focus through each race of each event." Dolan contends, " In turn that should allow me to sail faster for longer and to have better energy to make better decision and maintain a higher level of concentration. It is a long season, starting out now, and this is one area we identified last year. I am looking at staying fresh, hungry and focused this season."

The Solo Guy Cotten races out of Dolan's adopted home port of Concarneau from Monday until Thursday. Courses on the Bay of Concarneau are followed by a major 300-mile race between Pointe de Bretagne and Ile d'Yeu.

"I have trained a bit less on the water to make sure I am always hungry to go sailing and to do well, I have improved my strength and fitness and have worked hard on my mental game.." He says.

He has made some small tweaks to his sail programme, minor updates and is very happy with his boatspeed. More recently did some training with French skipper Jules Delpech under the watchful eye of Gildas Mahé.

"That has allowed be look more closely at the sails again and to just validate my different trim settings. This Solo Guy Cotten will allow me to find my marks in the fleer. My goal will be to complete all the races in good shape, avoiding the pitfalls over period of very high tides and doing the best I can against the competition which is higher than ever with a few new faces coming in. I want to be practising my starts and just rediscover the feel for solo racing under pressure. I don't have a specific performance objective. My goal is to concentrate on what I can control." Says Dolan.

The seasonal curtain raiser comprises two days of racing around the Glénan islands and on the Bay of Concarneau before setting off on Wednesday on an off-shore course of 'around 48 hours, between Pointe Bretagne and Ile d'Yeu.

"We should have fairly sustained south westerly winds going to the south east, never much more than 20 knots. The positive thing is that it shouldn't be too cold for March. As always, I will do the best I can, just looking to chain together the little wins, the small victories along the way rather than looking to achieve a ranking. The important thing for me just will be to have the feeling of having managed all the processes well and to feel I have sailed a good race."

He adds, "Overall I had good results last year, everything went quite well other than losing out in the Bristol Channel on La Solitaire and so I am quite happy. I have the speed and the experience, now - as they say - my biggest enemy is myself."

In April Dolan will race the Class 40 Amarris to Guadeloupe along with two other "Figaristes", good friends of his, Mahé and Catalan Pep Costa.

"Actually that will be the first ever crewed racing across an ocean I have done.I raced a Transatlantic before with Gildas but this will be very different. The Class 40 is bigger and heavier and needs more physical work. Right now I am about learning all I can on other boats too and learning from sailing with other people."

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