County Meath solo sailor Tom Dolan clocked up a career-best stage finish on Thursday
August 31st when he took second place on the 610 nautical miles La Solitaire du Figaro
Paprec first leg from Caen in France to Kinsale writes Ken Murray.

The result on the first step of the three-stage 1850 miles race to Piriac sur Mer on the French
Atlantic coast, sets up Dolan for the rest of the event with a useful cushion – around 14
minutes – over what can be considered his normal rivals.

This is by far the best start by Dolan, skipper of Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan, on the annual
pinnacle of French solo offshore racing which he is contesting for the sixth time.
A key strategic move when the 32 strong fleet passed through the Scilly isles early yesterday
gave Dolan the stage lead on the climb up to the Fastnet Rock which he rounded in the small
hours of this morning in fourth place.

Whilst Tuduri and Simon, first and third to round, were seeing the iconic ocean racing
milestone for their first ever time, the sailor, who grew up in Kells, Dolan thinks he has been
out to the rock around 30 times, mostly when he worked as a sailing instructor out of

When he crossed the finish line it was relief which was Dolan’s primary emotion. In truth he
has no more local knowledge than is accumulated and disseminated through the fleets by
coaching and support staff.

Being solo and with no outside assistance or communication, once on the ocean the skippers
only get the most basic weather information and their position in the fleet from race direction.
Each sailor leaves the dock with a detailed road book of different weather scenarios, their
homework done.

Speaking to Sail World magazine, Dolan said the extra mental pressure of his own and other
people’s;expectations of coming to Ireland weighed very heavily on him as well as last month
having had a disappointing Solo Concarneau Guy Cotten – the de facto dress rehearsal before
this race

”It was great coming in this morning, there were loads of people out to welcome me which
was really touching.
I always feel more pressure on this leg to Ireland, it messes with your head because I
want to do well. So there is a lot of relief.”

“Earlier in the year when I found the race was coming to Kinsale I was immediately getting a
bit nervous because there it is. coming to my home. I was worried and the last time we raced
in here I did terrible.”

Stage 2 of the competition to Roscoff France via the Isle of Man and the Welsh coast starts on

Sunday September 3rd at 1pm.

We will keep you updated at Meath Live