Tom Dolan 7th on 740 nautical mile Trophée Banque Populaire long offshore

Tom Dolan 7th on 740 nautical mile Trophée Banque Populaire long offshore

Ireland’s Tom Dolan and his young French co-skipper Paul Morvan this morning finished a gruelling 740 miles long offshore race for the Trophée Banque Populaire Grand Ouest in seventh place from a star-studded field containing some of the most successful French solo Figaro racers of the last 10 years.

Having started Saturday lunch time off Concarneau, the intense, double-handed course was designed to take the duos close to their limits with regular marks to round or pass all the way up to the Iles de Chaussée in the bay NE of Saint Malo – which was the most northerly turning mark – and the Ile de Ré north of Les Sables d’Olonne.

After five days racing the Franco-Irish duo, sailing Dolan’s Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan finished just 19 minutes behind winners Élodie Bonafous and Corentin Horeau. Horeau is the winner of the 2023 La Solitaire du Figaro.

The pair were always in the leading peloton on a race which was conducted at an incredible high level. After three days there was less than one mile between the top ten duos.

“It was the kind of race I love.” the red-eyed exhausted Irish skipper enthused this morning after finishing back into Concarneau  “There were attacks on all sides constantly. It was really a great race in contact, boat for boat throughout, with, at times, some slightly mind-blowing twists and turns, like under the Île de Ré bridge where the top ten passed in the space of a minute. It was really a very amazing course! “, summarised the Irish skipper of the Beneteau Figaro 3 Smurfit Kappa- Kingspan. “It was full on all the time, so many things to manage. Currents, rocks, weed, local effects… there were plenty of traps, not to mention the changes in the weather.”

He said, “ We never gave up and no one in the leading group did at all. It was crazy, after four days of racing, to find ourselves all stuck together. It gave everyone a big shot of adrenaline. We had to play hard, work round the clock and tack or gybe every few minutes to gain a meter here or a meter there. No one has ever made the slightest mistake. It really was a constant battle”
Dolan continued, “It’s always good to be racing up front. It was a great race very similar to a round of Solitaire du Figaro. I am very happy that it was raced double handed because there were a host of compulsory marks and virtual marks, a multitude of sections to manage, sometimes in the rocks and so it was full on. We slept very little because it was often during the night that things were going on and we had to be vigilant, particularly because of the wind shifts.”

He explained, “ After the Ile de Ré, we saw that a difference of 50 meters between two boats was likely to make the difference and generate significant lateral leverage. With Paul, who I really learned to be a little more patient than I can be in certain situations, we did quite well. We also showed that we had good speed.”
Now Dolan has a little time to rest before Grand Prix racing tomorrow and Saturday.