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Tom Dolan set for La Solitaire stage 2 seeking repeat performance

by Tom Dolan Racing 6 Sep 07:05 BST
Tom Dolan, the Irish skipper of Smurfit Kappa © Thomas Deregnieaux

After his tenth place on Stage 1 of La Solitaire du Figaro, a very long 642 miles leg around Fastnet, Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) would be very happy with a repeat performance on Stage 2 which starts Sunday 1100hrs local time, taking the 35 strong fleet of solo skipper 404 miles from the Baie de Saint Brieuc up the English Channel to Dunkirk via Eddystone Rock off Plymouth.

The course has been shortened because of the light winds forecast for the upwind sail across the Channel. The Race Director is looking to preserve the three days of recovery considered to be required before Stage 3 starts the following Saturday.

Dolan, 33, from County Meath is in a relatively confident place after posting the first stage 10th his best ever La Solitaire stage finish. In 2018 he was 11th on the third stage. After actually finishing twelfth into here on Thursday morning, jury penalties imposed on two sailors above him who cut out a passing mark on the way into the finish see Dolan promoted to tenth.

"To be honest it is nice to be up to tenth but in real terms it means nothing really as the fellow behind be is only a minute behind and then there are five guys within two minutes of me. So as ever it is a bit like a re-start. You just have to take each leg as it comes. But for sure I'd rather be in tenth than 30th. I am very positive, very happy." Dolan commented.

Of the course he said, "This will be a bit of a speed leg, there might be some tactics in the English Channel going across to Eddystone and then it is downwind speed. I think my downwind speed is good."

His confidence prevails but he is just focussing on his pre-race weather strategies and making sure he manages to stay hydrated. He revealed that some of his drinking water containers emptied and he finished the first stage quite dehydrated.

"I drank ten litres of water in the last 24 hours to get rehydrated. I won't be making that mistake again but everything is good now. I feel great." He reported, "Look," he cautioned, "I don't think anything has been written yet. There are a bunch of good guys behind me so it will be difficult and there will be a lot of changes yet."

"It should be a good leg with 20-25kts on the downwind, plenty of wind going in to Dunkirk. There will be a few opportunities, I think positioning is the key in the Channel and then on the way down to Dunkirk. It is going to be interesting and for sure nice to be going into it in a decent position. I have worked hard for the result even if I maybe did not expect to be doing so well. But it gives me confidence but I'm keeping focused, not getting over excited, there is such a long way to go."

The leg is expected to finish late night Tuesday.

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