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Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan takes 11th in Solo Guy Cotten Offshore

by Tom Dolan Racing 15 Mar 13:48 GMT 15 March 2024
Tom Dolan takes 11th in Solo Guy Cotten Offshore © Gilles Dedeurwaerder

Tom Dolan overcame a torn spinnaker to finish in 11th place on the 370 miles offshore race of the Solo Guy Cotten-Concarneau, the Irish solo skipper's first offshore race of the 2024 season.

The spinnaker tear happened within the first couple of hours of the race. With a small initial cut threatening to open up the sail completely Dolan hung on adeptly until the big gennaker finally tore its full length.

Required then to use a smaller sail on the longest downwind leg of the course he lost a few places, but ultimately this morning he was moderately happy with the way he had sailed and, especially the strategic choices he had made.

Skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan was objective "Mea culpa, that's operator error in a mechanical sport like this and you can't get away with it in this fleet. I was lucky it held on as long as it did. I had hoped to repair it on the long leg to Rochebonne but it was too far gone. But, otherwise I sailed well and made some good calls."

Around the midpoint of the course Dolan was between fifth and sixth having called a windshift correctly on the long leg south which allowed him to make his expected gains. But, lacking sailpower, he had no way of holding off his rivals who could still fly their big sails.

"It was a typical Figaro race in March. It was wet, intense, short, sweet and great to be back in it. I was happy to have got up to where I wanted to be, in the top group, but a little disappointed with how it worked out in the end. Under the small kite I really struggled a bit when the wind was right down to 12-13kts and it felt like there were boats passing me all the time." Dolan concluded.

"I tore the kite when I was launching it at Penmarch. Initially there was a little hole. I thought I would repair it on the long reaching leg between Occidentale de Sein and Rochebonne but shortly after Pierre Vertes, it broke. It's a shame because I really liked that sail."

He explained "After that I had anticipated the big right shift. It is something I had worked on a few days ago. It worked well. I had fun and made sure to sail as fast as possible because I knew that then I was going to lose out when they were back under big spinnaker and me the wee one. After Yeu I limited the damage but without the right sail, the loss was two knots of boat speed and 5 degrees of VMG."

"Overall I felt very good in terms of speed. It's a real shame about that big spinnaker."

Looking ahead Dolan says, "Next thing is the Laura Vergne Trophy. I have Class40 training this week before that."

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