Irish ocean racer Tom Dolan is to face the might of the Atlantic for the second time in less than six months as he takes to the start line of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale.
Dolan, 30, will face his first major test in the ultra-competitive Figaro Bénéteau class since stepping up from the Mini 6.50 fleet at the start of 2018.
The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see Dolan race 3,800 miles from Concarneau in Brittany, France, to St Barts in the West Indies alongside teammate and former Mini 6.50 rival Tanguy Bouroullec.
The race comes just months after Dolan raced solo across the Atlantic in the 2017 Mini Transat in which he placed sixth overall in a fleet of 56.
Earlier this year Dolan teamed up with eco-friendly packaging giant Smurfit Kappa to launch his bid for the 2018 Figaro season and jointly promote a message of sustainability and innovation.
The Transat AG2R La Mondiale will be Dolan’s second outing in Smurfit Kappa after he and Bouroullec raced in the Solo Concarneau 250 earlier this month
“In the Solo Concarneau 250 were happy speed-wise - we were fast upwind and downwind but unfortunately on a few occasions we were going quickly in the wrong direction,” said Dolan, from Kells in County Meath.
“It was a hard race but good for our first one. Now we need to step up for the Transat. It actually feels like I’m still in Transat mode because I only crossed the finish line of the Mini Transat a few months ago.
“The difference is that with this one is there’s no stopover – if we break something there’s there’s no time to stop. The level of the fleet is so high that if you take your foot off the gas for just a few minutes it’s very hard to get that back.”
Starting on Sunday April 22, the Transat AG2R La Mondiale will see 40 of the world’s best ocean racers converge in their two-person teams to fight it out for the coveted title.
Among the fleet are 2016 Figaro La Solitaire winner Yann Richomme and reigning serie division Mini Transat champion Erwan La Draoulec as well as Vendee Globe racers Morgan Lagraviere and Thomas Ruyant.
“It’s a big step up into the big league for me,” said Dolan, who the French refer to as L’Irlandais Volant – the Flying Irishman. “With the Mini I was on my own on my little scooter but now we’re on a big boat with all the big boys’ toys. It’s pretty overwhelming but I’m excited for the challenge.”
The race starts at 1300 local time (1100 UTC) and can be followed on the tracker here