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Ireland’s Tom Dolan at 11th as Pace Slows in Mini-Transat

6th October 2017
Tom Dolan – his resilience, skill and determination in pulling himself up from 56th to 11th in the current Stage 1 of the Mini Transat 2017 has become one of the highlights of the race. Tom Dolan – his resilience, skill and determination in pulling himself up from 56th to 11th in the current Stage 1 of the Mini Transat 2017 has become one of the highlights of the race.

The leaders of the Mini-Transat 2017 are now at the latitude of Lisbon, but well offshore in trying to keep in a line of the fading north to northeast wind writes W M Nixon.

The pace in this first 1350-mile stage (from La Rochelle to Las Palmas, Canaries) of the Mini-Transat 17 had become swift and purposeful as they carried the traditional strong northeast winds down past Cape Finisterre. Since then, last night saw Ireland’s solo sailor Tom Dolan recover even more impressively from his setback at the start, which had found him in last place three hours after the race got under way.

His extraordinary upwards progress since, through a fleet of 56 in the Production Boat Class, saw him in tenth place for a while last night. But this morning it has stabilised at 11th as he takes a stab westward in the finely calculated business of tacking downwind in a fading breeze which provides the challenge of crossing an area of light breezes – or even calm – before he can avail of an area of fresher nor’easters which are flowing southwestwards from southern Portugal.

But the finish at Las Palmas is still 670 miles away from Dolan and his group, and it is becoming increasingly challenging for racing, with other areas of slack winds move across it.

At the moment Erwan Le Draoulec and Tanguy Broullec are neck and neck for the lead, with Clarisse Cremer third and Yannick Le Clech fourth. But with 630 miles for this leading cohort to cover to the finish, any predictions for them – and the entire fleet - are still somewhat premature.

Except, that is, for the half dozen boats which have temporarily dropped out after a succession of equipment failures. They are currently in various ports along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts, and out of the racing in Stage 1. But shore support teams have been arriving to get them race-ready again, and down to Las Palmas to be prepared for the main event.

This is the true 40th Anniversary Mini-Transat, from Las Palmas to Martinique in the Caribbean. The fleet will be back up to full strength for a start which is currently penciled in for November 1st. But it’s not set in stone, as the organisers wait for the current extra-vigorous hurricane season to work itself out on the west side of the Atlantic before they set the final date for early November

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Published in Solo Sailing Team

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