05 Dec End of sailing season 2023 for Tom Dolan: “Well, we had a great sporting season, one with its share of ups, and downs!”
“Well, we had a great sporting season, one with its share of ups, and downs!
The high point was undoubtedly winning into Kinsale on the first stage of La Solitaire du Figaro. This is only the fourth time that a non French competitor has won a stage of La Solitaire du Figaro, and this victory actually puts Ireland at the top of this list thanks to a stage win in the past for Damian Foxall.
For me this was simply the highlight of my career so far.
There were other positives including having sailed round Ireland twice, although I didn’t manage to beat the record, for me it is still a success because we were able to reach a lot of people, including many who don’t necessarily know sailing or the Figaro class.
But to be honest not everything worked as I had hoped this season. In particular I had some disappointing results in some of my mid-season races. But I know that I have a great team which is supportive and well-established, particularly with Gerry Hussey and the entire communication team. My work Gerry Hussey, my sports psychologist, was of great support and benefit to me during the 2023 race season.
That allowed me to bounce back.
I would like to thank my sponsors Smurfit Kappa and Kingspan, as well as my technical partners Dubarry and Guy Cotton. Really, nothing would be possible without them!
I’m ending the year with a Transatlantic passage on the Class40 Amarris on which I’m going to race a bit next year which will give me some experience of how the bigger boats work!
As soon as I am back I will have a bit of a rest before getting stuck into the 2024 sailing season with as much passion and ambition as ever!”
Picture of the year
2023 a record year
Along with his commitment to the very demanding Figaro Bénéteau circuit, Tom Dolan decided to tackle the solo lap of Ireland record.
It’s a mark held since 2005 by Belgian Michel Kleinjans aboard a Class40 (4 days 1 hour and 53 minutes and 29 seconds for a total of 698 miles. And Tom, the skipper of Smurfit Kappa – Kingspan aimed to break this record in the spring.
The idea was to take on the 698-mile loop around Ireland, starting and finishing from Dun Laoghaire, the port town just south of Dublin.
In fact it’s a project which has its origins in the health confinement period, a project Tom was keen to share with the Irish people.
Very light air conditions on the second half of the route unfortunately put paid to Tom’s target.
He then attempted the record a second time on October 29. Tom Dolan completed the first two thirds of the course at high speed, posting a time more than 100 miles ahead of the reference time. But then in the face of a seriously worsening forecast he had no other choice but to give up into Dingle. To get so close to the goal was frustrating but Tom has promised he will not let the record elude him.
A documentary will emerge from this incredible epic, in partnership with the Tourism Ireland agency and the production company Record Media. This documentary will highlight the commitment of a the sailor to tour Ireland’s majestic landscapes.
In the flagship race of the season, the Solitaire du Figaro, Tom Dolan went through all the emotions, from a big high to a tough low. History will obviously remember his resounding victory in Kinsale, at the end of the first stage The skipper of Smurfit Kappa – Kingspan obviously could not have dreamed of a better scenario into his home country. And his performance will undoubtedly remain forever engraved in his memory and also in the long history of the race. But after a disappointing second stage when the wind shut off for many hours Tom ended up 18th overall.
Note that Tom Dolan is the second sailor from his country to achieve such a feat after Damian Foxall in 1998.
The year in numbers
4,427 nautical miles traveled this year for Tom and the Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan boat (more than 7,000 kilometers)
5 podiums including 3 first places for skipper Tom Dolan this year:
1st at SPI WEST FRANCE,
1st of stage 1 of the Solitaire du Figaro Paprec,
1st international on all 3 stages of solitaire
899 100 people reached on Tom Dolan’s social networks during this 2023 season!
A transatlantic voyage to end the year!
Tom is finishing his season on Achille Nebout’s Class40, sailing with a skipper who he has sailed with before. The boat has just finished 2nd in the Transat Jacques Vabre with Gildas Mahé on board, well known to Team Tom Dolan Racing as preparateur of the Figaro Smurfit-Kappa this year.
Tom left Fort De France on November 28 and was heading towards Lorient, an opportunity for Tom to gain experience on a 40-foot boat, one of the latest generation of this class.
After a busy 2023 season, Tom will take the time to rest and prepare mentally and physically for the 2024 season.
Crédit Photos Alexis Courcoux