Dolan’s first offshore challenge of 2024 today

Dolan’s first offshore challenge of 2024 today

Ireland’s leading solo sailor Tom Dolan goes into his first offshore race of the 2024 season this afternoon knowing the pressure will be on from before the start gun as the 370 miles, 48 hours long course of the Solo Guy Cotten-Concarneau looks set to mostly be a speed course with few tactical opportunities to make gains. The offshore starts at 1200hrs UTC today.

Counting a 14th and an 18th from the first two short, two hours long inshore races which were contested on Monday and Tuesday out of Concarneau, Dolan – skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan – is looking to establish himself in the leading peloton from the start gun. The course will take the 35 boat fleet north through the notoriously tidal Raz de Sein to turning marks beside Ushant before a long 160 miles straight line reach to the Rochebonnne Plateau SSW of Les Sables d’Olonne where the race turns north again to finish off Concarneau, expected to be very early Friday morning.

The start will be very, very, very important.” Dolan emphasizes, “ After that it is all reaching. We go out to the west and there is more wind in the west and so the elastic will stretch, it’ll be the boats at the front getting richer and then it is nearly all straight line reaching. Thursday evening there may be some compression at Rochebonne as there is a front coming into Biscay the fleet might close up there again. No matter what on this race it is better to be in front.

It is a course which Dolan knows well and this edition it might prove to be more straightforward with 15-25kts of wind forecast over the period of the race.

Of his opening races Monday and Tuesday Dolan commented, “I would not say I’m off to a bad start but it has not been so good either. It’s a shame because there wasn’t really any places to gain after the start and the starts were messy with up to three general recalls on one race. The ranking at the first mark just after the starts were often the same as at the finish. Anyway it is good to be back into it, into “race” mode.

Crédit photo: Gilles Dedeurwaerder