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Tom Dolan delighted with second place on Le Havre Allmer Cup

by Tom Dolan Racing 5 Jun 08:34 PDT 2 June 2024
Tom Dolan finishes second in the Le Havre Allmer Cup © Patrick Deroualle

Twelfth at the intermediate mark at Eddystone light, Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan made the breezy south coast of England work for him as he staged an excellent comeback to finish second on the 420 miles 6th edition of the Le Havre AllmerCup early this morning. Dolan brought his Smurfit Kappa Kingspan across the finish line at 0156hrs local time off Le Havre just 9 minutes behind French race winner Gaston Morvan.

It is Dolan's best ever finish outside of La Solitaire du Figaro and proves he is on excellent form, achieving a regular string of top 5 and top 10 results this season ahead of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec which starts from Le Havre on 17th August and runs to 15th September.

Dolan, who has always been fast downwind in a big breeze, made good choices and high speeds travelling east back along the English coast towards the turning mark the west of the Isle of Wight, Needles Fairway.

But he made most places on the return leg back across the Channel to the French port where he actually made a debut in the Figaro class in August 2018. Back then he had to retire from his first ever leg of La Solitaire after a rigging failure.

As he sprayed Champagne over his boat, the dock, himself and the small welcoming party in the wee small hours of this morning, the contrast with his class debut was but a beautiful reminder of the Irish sailor's ascent up the ranks of the toughest solo one design fleet in the world.

Dolan smiled this morning, "This proves the consistency I am looking for and have managed to hold on to all season. And so that is encouraging for La Solitaire du Figaro which is of course a race which rewards regularity. I want to now transfer this regularity to the Solitaire. I have never sailed so well as I am now. I am peaking, I hope, at just the right time."

But, he acknowledges, "Now I am tired, just accumulated fatigue - wear and tear over the season - and now I need to get some good rest. I have two months off now but I have to make sure I don't lose anything, I don't want to take my eye off the ball. But meantime I need to get in my garden and cut the grass!"

Looking back at what he did right....and wrong, he explains: "Along the south coast of England I was good. I had good speed downwind and a couple of good gybes and then crossing the Channel played the tide and the wind a bit and made more gains. There was a good 26-27 knots approaching The Needles, it was pretty fruity and good fun. I seemed to be able to sail lower and faster. There are a couple of little things I've thought off since sailing on the Class40 which have transferred into the Figaro."

And after being third on the first leg he and the top group lost miles on a strategic choice which did not play their way:

"I started well and there was a lead group sailed to the South West out going to Guernsey looking for a windshift which didn't come until later. All the boats behind went north and there was a big split in the fleet so there was a bit of a mistake there. We kind of all influenced each other. At that point I was something like seven miles behind Gaston (Morvan who won) and nine behind the leader at that time. So a lot of the group I was with then never managed to come back."

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