In the Transatlantic stage of the La Boulangerie Mini-Transat 2017, which started yesterday from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, solo sailor Tom Dolan and his rival/friend Pierre Chedeville have chosen to break from the fleet and hold well to the east, seeking stronger favourable winds running along the African coast writes W M Nixon.
This became a viable option when the organisers added 200 miles to the 1700-mile Stage 2 to the Caribbean, routing the fleet on a much more southerly route through the Cape Verde islands, in order to avoid a late season storm in mid-Atlantic on the direct route to Martinique.
Yesterday evening Dolan was taking his medicine as his tactic initially saw him slip back as far as 55th in fleet. But this morning both he and Chedeville are making hay at speeds between 9 and 11 knots with Chedeville slightly ahead in 22nd place and rising in the rankings, while Dolan has shot up to 26th.
The tactic is a long-term ploy, and its effectiveness (or otherwise) will need another day or two of racing for full assessment. But it certainly adds a sporting element to an event in which relatively close-fleet racing was the norm in the first stage from La Rochelle to Las Palmas.
Current leader is Tanguy Bouroullec, while this year’s most consistent star Erwan Le Draoulec is third and the Stage 1 winner Valentin Gautier is seventh. But they are well offshore from Africa, and currently sailing a couple of knots slower than Dolan and Chedeville.
Tracker chart here