Dolan building up for La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec with Allmer Le Havre-Allmer Cup

Dolan building up for La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec with Allmer Le Havre-Allmer Cup

In Olympic sport top athletes usually seek to elevate their game to be ‘in the medal zone’. For Ireland’s top offshore solo sailboat racer Tom Dolan the goal is the same, seeking to be fighting in the top pack to give himself the best chance of winning when the scrap for the finish line comes. In a mechanical sport which relies on the wind, that has proven to be a winning formula.

When he starts the Le Havre Allmer Cup at 1600hrs local time off the busy French port tomorrow afternoon that will be the Dolan’s main focus. The 380 nautical miles solo race, mainly in the tidal English Channel, is the final event before August’s La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec – his annual pinnacle race series – and most of all he is determined to race in the top group all the way around a course which will see the fleet at sea for two nights.

The Figaro Beneteau 3 race season has been intense this year with back to back races, the schedule compacted by the class’s desire to be clear of the spectacle of the Paris 2024 Olympics. And so after this event Dolan will now have a well earned six weeks away from racing, giving him time to prepare his boat, Smurfit Kappa – Kingspan, and ensure he arrives into mid August’s La Solitaire fully charged up and ready for what promises to be the longest and most gruelling edition of the multi stage solo race for several years.

This Le Havre Allmer Cup starts and finishes in Le Havre and follows a demanding course which runs through the Raz Blanchard to the Channel Islands, Port Sal to Eddystone and then the Needles Fairway mark at the Isle of Wight before the finish.

“It’s a beautiful, typical Channel circuit of about 400 miles which we should complete in a little over two days depending on the routing. The conditions look set to be relatively calm,” notes Dolan, adding, “It looks quite promising. There is always a lot going on on these Channel courses, you get little rest and there are always options, like finding the sea breeze on the English coast.  I feel quite comfortable now in the Channel, I know the area pretty well now.”

He is keen to shrug off any fatigue accumulated over what has been his busiest season start for years and now to give his best from start to finish, he says: “This is the last race before La Solitaire so I want to give a good account of myself. I feel like I am in a good place. I did less training in the winter and less boat prep – which I’ll do now – so in terms of looking ahead to La Solitaire I do feel I am well set. I am more confident in my head and I am much less worried about outcomes and other things going on.”

“Right now I feel that things have gone well since mid-April but my desire is to do better. I have managed to achieve some good consistency since the start of the year in just about every event I’ve been in, solo, crewed and double handed, and so now I want to continue my momentum. This is all the more true as I know that consistency is the key to success on La Solitaire,” says Dolan who after his 4th, 6th and 7th places at the last three races would like to get closer to, or on the podium as the perfect launch pad before La Solitaire.

He responds, “Yes, that would be nice but I’m not putting pressure on myself. The goal is doing well on La Solitaire and the important thing is that I turn up at 100% at that time. I’m going to focus on my race more. I’ve analysed all the stupid things I’ve done since the start of the season and listed them. And I am making sure I prepare even better for each successive race. And now I have put together a new road book. I want to drill down now into the small details which accumulate so I continue to move forward and progress.”