Tom Dolan and his co-skipper Francois Jambou are back up to speed in Brittany and well rested after a mixture of experiences in the Douarnenez Mini-Fastnet two-hander writes W M Nixon. The race to the Fastnet and back is part of the buildup to the Mini-Transat Solo at the beginning of October from La Rochelle, when Tom will be racing IRL 910 on his own.
There were 62 starters in the Mini-Fastnet, and the Franco-Irish pair were very much in contention until the first night saw them fouling a fishing net, which pushed them back to eighth. After that, it was no holds barred as they drove their little boat at speeds of up to 17 knots to bring them back into the leading group as the Irish coast approached.
The course took them round the turn off the Stag Rocks before coasting down to the Fastnet where some fancy gybing work confirmed they really were mixing it with the leaders, with little enough time to enjoy the coastline of what Tom joyfully describes as “The Most Beautiful Island in the World”
The class leader was Emile Henry sailed by Erwan le Draoulec and Clarice Cremer. Although on the final long haul back to Douarnenez, IRL 910 was matching and occasionally even bettering their speed, the leaders always seemed to find a little extra something to keep them ahead - in fact, as Tom recounts it, “they sailed a virtually faultless race”.
However, the Irish boat was very much in contention with Kerhis-Cerfrance (Tanguy and William Blosse) for second slot. But after three nights of ferociously challenging racing – with the third night the trickiest of all - the crews were worn down as they neared the finish, and the duo on IRL 910 reckon they may have missed out on one final chance to take that second slot right at the finish, with the first three across within five minutes and twelve seconds.
But then when they saw the rush of boats sweeping across close after them, the feeling was they could have just as easily been off the podium in jig time. So a close third seemed a pretty good outcome, and it maintains Tom Dolan among the fancied contenders for the Mini-Transat itself.