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Tom Dolan Lies Sixth as Mini-Transat Fleet Leaders Reach Gate at Cape Verde Islands

5th November 2017
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Tom Dolan in flying form in his Pogo 3 IRL 910 Tom Dolan in flying form in his Pogo 3 IRL 910

Ireland’s solo sailor Tom Dolan has been finding form and much-improved placings among the leaders in the Mini-Transat 2017 as the front runners approach the mandatory course gate, the channel between Santo Antao and Sao Vicente, the most westerly islands of the Cape Verde archipelago writes W M Nixon.

Since Wednesday’s start from Las Palmas in the Canaries, Dolan has seen his position in the 55-trong fleet steadily rising. His strategy of being among the first to get determinedly over to the stronger northeast winds closer to the African coast provided a zero to hero scenario, as he was briefly 54th, but was soon moving rapidly up through the rankings in classic Dolan style.

At one stage yesterday he was showing as being in fifth, but placings among some sections of the leading group are very closely contested, and this morning he is sixth, closing towards the channel between the islands at 9.7 knots.

However, current leaders Tanguy Bourollec (1st), Erwan le Draoulec (2nd) and Clarisse Cremer (3rd) are likely to go through the Cape Verdes in that order. But with a wind shadow indicated to the leeward of Santo Antao on its southwest side, the decision of how soon to make the turn westward for Martinique in the Caribbean could be a tricky one.

Some boats further down the fleet have already indicated their intention to go into the port of Mindao in the Cape Verdes for essential repairs, and if they take that pit stop option, they’re obliged to stay for 12 hours, making for a real divide in the fleet.

So far, Dolan has given no hint of requiring to do this, but one or two of those who need to make the stop will not reveal it until the last minute. However, for Tom Dolan, the Atlantic crossing itself is ultimately what it’s all about, and he is enthusiastic about the possibilities of making more gains as the fleet begin the 2000-mile “real” Mini-Transat from San Antao for St Marin in Martinique.

As a rookie in the 2015 race, Tom Dolan was a respectable 22nd in the Production Boat Class with fleet numbers comparable to this year. But with his new Pogo 3 IRL 910 racing this 2017 event, he is expecting much better of himself, and currently things are looking good.

Race tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing
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