Tom Dolan ready for Class 40 Transatlantic race, “It is always good to experience something else”

Tom Dolan ready for Class 40 Transatlantic race, “It is always good to experience something else”

Ireland’s offshore solo racer Tom Dolan takes advantage of a natural break in the Figaro circuit in France to expand his racing horizons and improve his skills as he competes in a new, crewed Class40 race – the Niji 40 – which follows a 3,430 nautical miles Transatlantic course from the French Atlantic coast island of Belle-Ile-en-Mer to reach Marie-Galante off the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

Dolan is a key member of a three strong international crew skippered by top Figaro racer Gildas Mahé – with whom he raced the Atlantic two handed in 2021 on a Figaro Beneteau 3 – and also including young Spanish racer Pep Costa.

Starting from Sunday 7th April on a passage they expect will take around 13-14 days they will race the Class 40 Amarris at the request of that boat’s usual skipper who has to remain on land on paternity leave.

“Our objective is winning and we have a boat and a team capable of delivering that even if we all know that a transatlantic race always has surprises in store. We know that our boat is good reaching, especially tight reaching. “ says Dolan, skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingpsan. “ It is really nice to be part of a team, and especially one which I so comfortable with. The boat is brilliant, the sails are brand new. Now it is up to us to perform.”

All three sailors have experience of the class and Dolan and Mahé in particular of the boat, Amarris, a Lift V2 which Mahé raced across the Atlantic on the Transat Jacques Vabre and Dolan sailed back from Martinique to France.

“It is a very technical boat. I am maybe not so keen on the fact that certain prototypes like this have a difference performance strengths compared with others and so you kind of know in advance where different boats will be strong and weak compared with one design where all the boats are the same.” He explains, “I feel I have not done enough racing outside of the Figaro class and I see that guys who have been in the Figaro and are now in Class40 and doing well over the last two years. It gives you a different perspective and new experience, a different way of looking at things and different strategies and different ways to set a boat up. I find it interesting and it is a chance to learn on bigger, more powerful boats.”

At three days before the start the exact weather pattern for the first few days on the Bay of Biscay are not completely clear, but Dolan is expecting big winds and seas.

“ There is a bit of a low pressure coming in which is going to bring quite a lot of wind and we will be upwind for a bit which is good for our boat which is good on tight angles. We might see 35kts and 4-5 metre swells. The course will be quite open as the only waypoint is the Azores so it opens up the northern route more than some courses where the waypoint you have to leave to starboard is down at the Canaries or Madeira for example and that makes the course shorter.”