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Dolan, Roberts Take Eighth Overall in Sardinha Cup

20th June 2022
Ireland’s Tom Dolan and English co-skipper Alan Roberts finish eighth overall in the Sardinha Cup
Ireland’s Tom Dolan and English co-skipper Alan Roberts finish eighth overall in the Sardinha Cup

With a ninth place earned this Sunday morning when, exhausted, they crossed the second leg finishing line back into Saint Gilles Croix de Vie on France’s Vendée coastline, Ireland’s Tom Dolan and English co-skipper Alan Roberts finish eighth overall in the Sardinha Cup, the two-stage, doublehanded race to Figueira da Foz on the Portuguese coast and back to France.

With an eighth on the outward leg, sailing Dolan’s Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan, the duo achieve their goal of finishing in the top 10 of the 22-boat fleet.

The second stage, which started at lunchtime last Tuesday, saw an incredible range of weather, from long, long periods drifting windless in searing heat, to a final night of thunderstorms and huge swings in wind direction with squalls to 30kts.

The duo stuck to their pre-race strategy throughout and while their fortunes ebbed and flowed between second and 18th at different points, they were in the main body of the peloton at the line and the solid finishing position gives them both confidence for the future.

“That was tough. I feel like we had a whole season’s worth of different weather in that one leg. At one stage we were doing sail changes every five to seven minutes. Last night the wind was going through 180 degrees it was hairy at times with more than 30 kts in the squalls. But we never really went off the plan to stay in the north of the route and it paid off in the end.” Dolan explained back in the Vendée fishing port this morning.

“We achieve our goal, finishing in the top ten, yes, and our strategy was good, we sailed the boat well and we really get on well, but the guys who won were right beside us in the middle of Biscay on the way back, they took one hitch away from by about a mile and went on to win. So on the one hand we were in the right place and were that close to being on the podium but I kind of don’t want to be missing out again like we did on the way down.” Dolan added.

“But that was one of the maddest, most intense races I have done. We saw whales, sharks, dolphins close up, Portuguese fishermen close up but we are very happy in the end.” the Irish sailor from County Meath enthused. “But I have to admit I am tired. We have had four big races back to back since the start of the season and now I need to make sure I get rested before the start of La Solitaire du Figaro in late August.”

Published in Tom Dolan, Figaro
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Tom Dolan, Solo Offshore Sailor

Even when County Meath solo sailor Tom Dolan had been down the numbers in the early stages of the four-stage 2,000 mile 2020 Figaro Race, Dolan and his boat were soon eating their way up through the fleet in any situation which demanded difficult tactical decisions.

His fifth overall at the finish – the highest-placed non-French sailor and winner of the Vivi Cup – had him right among the international elite in one of 2020's few major events.

The 33-year-old who has lived in Concarneau, Brittany since 2009 but grew up on a farm in rural County Meath came into the gruelling four-stage race aiming to get into the top half of the fleet and to underline his potential to Irish sailing administrators considering the selection process for the 2024 Olympic Mixed Double Offshore category which comes in for the Paris games.

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