Please select your home edition
Crewsaver ErgoFit 50N
Product Feature
Harken 14mm Lead Ring - 3271
Harken 14mm Lead Ring - 3271

Tom Dolan and Smurfit Kappa finish first Figaro season on a high

by Will Carson 15 Sep 2018 18:30 BST
Tom Dolan after Stage 4 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro © Alexis Courcoux

Tom Dolan wrapped-up his inaugural Figaro season with another competitive showing in the 'rookie' division of the Solitaire du Figaro. The Irish solo sailor was the second Solitaire first-timer across the finish line at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie at the end of the fourth and final stage of the annual French classic.

Taken with his rookie class victory with Smurfit Kappa on the previous leg from northern Spain, it marks an upbeat ending to the season for the man nicknamed L'Irlandais Volant, The Flying Irishman, by the French media.

Dolan's prospects of overall success in the iconic event suffered an early setback when damage to his mast rigging forced his retirement from Stage 1, and a tactical error on the second leg saw him finish 25th in the notoriously competitive 36-strong fleet.

However, the sailor from Kells in County Meath showed real resilience to bounce back in the second half of the event to finish the 2018 season on a positive note – "The season just got better and better, it's all about making small improvements all the time and that has happened," said Dolan.

"One of the big positives of the year is that when I am out there against the best in the fleet I know I can stay with them, I have the raw boat speed.

"The story of the season for me has been the starts, where I have struggled at times, so the big job for me this winter is to work on that. For me the Solitaire du Figaro is unfinished business after my rig problem on the first leg. But I hit most of my targets in this first year, so I can be happy with that despite some disappointments.

"It has been a very intense year with a very full programme. I am really glad I did it as it is the last year with the Figaro 2 boat which inspired me to get involved in the first place. The plan is to be back next year with the new Figaro 3 one-design boat – and there is a rumour there may be an Irish stopover!"

In contrast to Stage 3 with its light winds and dramatic gains and losses, the final leg of the Solitaire du Figaro saw a more stable breeze with fewer overtaking opportunities on the short 165-mile course round the islands of Ile de Re and Ile-d Yeu off France's north west coast.

"It was all straight line sailing except for a bit of upwind work towards the end where I managed to scrape back a couple of places – the first three boats at the first mark were the three boats at the top at the finish," Dolan observed. "But I was still second rookie and my target had been the rookie podium on all the legs, so there is a positive to take away from it."

The overall Solitaire du Figaro was won by rising French sailing star Sebastien Simon, who finished the four-stage event just over 16 minutes ahead of Anthony Marchand.

Dolan had started his first season on the gruelling Figaro circuit in style, winning the top rookie trophy when he and co-skipper Tanguy Bouroullec took Smurfit Kappa to 11th place overall in the 4,000-mile Transat AG2R La Mondiale from France to St Barts in the Caribbean.

It was an impressive debut in a class which includes some of the world's best singlehanded racing sailors, one on which Dolan built on with a string of competitive results at events leading up to the Solitaire du Figaro, including first rookie in the Solo Normandie race.

Dolan's move to the Figaro followed great success in the Mini 6.50 class where he took numerous wins and podium finishes as well as a sixth overall in the 56-strong Mini Transat Race, an achievement which saw him shortlisted for the Irish Sailor of the Year award.

His transition from Mini to Figaro came with the support of Smurfit Kappa, one of the world's leading eco-friendly packaging companies.

Related Articles

Solitaire URGO Le Figaro heads to Ireland
For 50th anniversary edition of the event Owned and organised by OC Sport's French subsidiary OC Sport Penduick, the Solitaire URGO Le Figaro is one of the world's toughest sailing competitions. Posted on 25 Jan
OC Sport opens international base in France
One of the first to take advantage is VOR-winning skipper Charles Caudrelier 'Le HUB by OC Sport' will draw on the company's successful track record in the organisation of major offshore events and team management, to offer a full-service solution for international offshore sailing campaigns. Posted on 17 Jan
Alan Roberts visits Harken UK
To discuss the new Figaro 3 and his plans for the 2019 season Harken UK are proud to announce a continued partnership with one of Britain's top solo off-shore racers, Alan Roberts. Posted on 4 Jan
Hive Energy and Will Harris announce partnership
For the 2019 Beneteau Figaro 3 season A new Beneteau Figaro 3 will be named 'Hive Energy' in January 2019 as the global solar power business, Hive Energy Ltd, announce their support of British single-handed sailor Will Harris in the 2019 Figaro season. Posted on 9 Dec 2018
The Offshore Academy is GREAT
Recognised by the National GREAT Britain campaign The Offshore Academy, Britain's only centre of excellence for single and shorthanded yacht racing has been recognised by the National GREAT Britain campaign for its expertise in providing pathways to professional sailing. Posted on 29 Nov 2018
The Figaro Beneteau 3 adventure
Combining attractive design with refined, elegant lines and outstanding competition performance With its black hull and orange foils that cut though the water on floats, the high-performance racing yacht completed its first official sail in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie on September 16, 2018. Posted on 2 Oct 2018
Amateur sailors can race alongside the pros
Special legs in Solitaire URGO Le Figaro and Transat AG2R La Mondiale OC Sport Pen Duick, the French subsidiary of the global pioneer in event creation and management OC Sport, is delighted to announce the introduction of two new double-handed events for sailing amateurs. Posted on 23 Sep 2018
North Sails Weekly Debrief
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Beneteau Partnership, Breaking News! North Sails clients win six divisions at the 29th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo. Posted on 16 Sep 2018
Sébastien Simon wins La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro
Racing final stage off his native Vendée coast Through the intense final 165 nautical miles 24 hour stage Sébastien Simon, sailing Bretagne CMB Performance, stayed typically cool and focused after a start line collision seemed to jeopardise his overall title hopes. Posted on 14 Sep 2018
Leave Nothing On the Race Course
Stage 4 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro begins Sébastien Simon (Bretagne CMB Performance) heads out his native Vendée coast this evening with his first overall La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro overall title within his grasp. The 28-year-old who grew up in Les Sables d'Olonne has a cushion of 35 minutes. Posted on 13 Sep 2018