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Tom Dolan Now 14th, Mini-Transat Fleet May Run out of Windpower Towards Canary Islands This Weekend

5th October 2017
Tom Dolan busy putting boats astern – since Sunday, he has moved from 56th to 14th overall. Tom Dolan busy putting boats astern – since Sunday, he has moved from 56th to 14th overall.

A large area of lighter winds and calms currently developing around the Canary Islands may hamper the closing speeds of the Mini Transat fleet as they near the finish of their 1350-mile race from La Rochelle through this weekend and beyond writes W M Nixon.

But this morning the leaders are well offshore from Portugal, streaming towards the southwest in a good line of northeast winds. Inshore towards Portugal, however, lighter wind may emerge today, but the leading group out at sea are hoping to carry their brisk favourable winds well south before they have to consider how best to deal with the developing situation towards the finish.

Their slow progress out of the Bay of Biscay at the beginning of the week since Sunday’s start may make estimates of seven days to reach Las Palmas in the Canaries optimistic. But at the moment, leader Remi Aubrun is past the halfway stage, and is making 9.8 knots with 793 miles to go to the finish, while the consistent Erwan Le Draoulec in second is less than two miles astern at the same speed, with Yannick Le Clech third and Clarisse Cremer fourth.

Ireland’s Tom Dolan has made a remarkable recovery from his setback at the start when – having been in the lead - he’d to re-trace his steps in exceptionally poor visibility to round a mandatory turning point. This very briefly had him back in last place in the 56-strong Production class, but he has now milled his way up to 14th, an astonishing achievement, and is currently battling with top star Pierre Chedeville.

As expected, though, the benefits of being first out of the Bay of Biscay to enjoy the strong favourable winds down towards Cape Finisterre ahead of all rivals gave the leading group an enormous boost, and they’re currently sitting on a lead of around 40 to 50 miles on the Dolan/Chedeville group.

But the possibility of erratic wind patterns over a wide area at the Canaries could upset the rankings. In times past, major events of the calibre of the Vendee Globe and the Volvo Ocean Race have seen major place changes while negotiating the passage through or round the islands, and the fact that the Mini Transat fleet have to reach a finish line in the heart of the islands further increases the challenge.

Meanwhile Mini Transat life continues to inter-act with the outside world. There was a sweet moment on Tuesday when the Mini Transat organisers contacted Tom Dolan’s girl-friend Karen to wish her a happy birthday and confirm that he was working his way up through the fleet in the trademark style of the “Flying Irishman” – l’Irlandais Volant.

Race tracker here


Published in Solo Sailing Team

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