Irishman Tom Dolan and his Beneteau Figaro 3 Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan are back in the Channel ready to take up all the many challenges offered by the Le Havre Allmer Cup which begins on Sunday with a 340 nautical mile offshore race.
The event, last held in 2018, is the second event of the French Elite Solo Offshore Championship and has attracted 28 solo Figaro riders, including home favorite Guillaume Pirouelle, a former 470 youth champion who grew up in Le Havre and is looking to follow in the footsteps of French star Charlie Dalin who is the town’s favorite ocean racer with four La Solitaire do Figaro podiums and who recently finished second in the Vendée Globe.
Dolan has work to do if he wants to move up the championship standings after a disappointing Solo Maitre Coq in April. After tearing his spinnaker in the offshore race at the season opener on the French Atlantic coast, the Irish skipper had little chance of getting back into the top ten overall on what happened. turned out to be a test of very light winds.
“It’s certainly good to be back in the English Channel and all that it brings. I love all the challenges, the tides, the winds and the races here are never over until you cross the finish line. It’s often about easier wins and, also, about easy losses. Dolan explained after her delivery from Brittany to the bustling port of Normandy which is one of the busiest in the English Channel, “Oh, and the freighters are still there, you have to watch them!”
The course appears to be a rectangular shape starting with a very typical passage across the English Channel to a turning mark at the entrance to the Solent, along the English coast to Eddystone light off Plymouth, then again across the English Channel to an easterly turn at Portsall on the NW corner of Brittany to return to Le Havre. A low pressure system should bring winds of 20 knots then lighter winds closer to the finish.
“It will probably be three days and three nights at sea, which will end on Wednesday. I can’t wait to finally have some wind because it seems like we’ve had a lot of light winds so far this season. And it looks a lot like a typical La Manche leg of La Solitaire, so it will be good practice. I like racing in the Channel because it’s always interesting. I feel like I’ve proven that I have good overall speed so far this season and now I have to stay with the peloton and make smart decisions. Dolan concluded.
The long offshore race starts on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. CET.