Ireland’s Tom Dolan promoted to Stage 1 winner on La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec after Jury decision

Ireland’s Tom Dolan promoted to Stage 1 winner on La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec after Jury decision

It was a flabbergasted Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan who emerged blinking into the Kinsale sunshine this morning after a post-race physiotherapy session to be told that he has been promoted to winner of Stage 1 of La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec following the decision of the International Jury to penalize French race rookie Benoît Tuduri 30 minutes for a class rules infringement.

Dolan, 36, who grew up in County Meath, had already sailed a career best leg to finish second behind Tuduri. Now he leads the 32 strong fleet whilst in his native Ireland, only ten years after his first ever race which went from France around the Fastnet in a Mini650.

The only Irish skipper to have won a La Solitaire stage before is Damian Foxall who triumphed on the final stage of the 1998 race. The Irish pair sailed together in 2019 when the new Figaro Beneteau 3 class was introduced.

It feels weird right now, it will take time to sink in and it is not the way I would want to win a stage. I feel sorry for Benoit but I guess as a rookie he just didn’t know the rules. I had tough start to the season with doing my Round Ireland record attempt and not making the time I needed, and otherwise I have not really been on top form, and I was worried about this leg because it is home waters and I am coming home and the last time I came here I did terribly – I was down in the 30s – and so this is the first leg of La Solitaire du Figaro with all these things going on in my head so it feels great.”

“I believe I am the first Irish sailor to win a stage of La Solitaire since Damian Foxall in 1998. and considering my first ever race was the Mini Fastnet in 2013 just ten years ago on a Pogo 1, it’s not bad is it…..”

He addes, “This will give me a lot more confidence but it will not affect the way I approach or prepare for the next two legs. I will just concentrate on the things I can control” 

Dolan has been working recently with Irish sports psychologist Gerry Hussey and says these sessions have made a positive difference, “He has been making sure I concentrate only on the things I can control and not the things I can’t control. On the way up here I just tried to focus and sail without emotion, we really worked on it because you get times when you are doing badly, and so that also applies when you are at the front of the fleet – it is the same technique – remove the emotion – sail, act and accept and move on.”