Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Displaying items by tag: Mini Transat

With three major yet very different marathon sailing events crossing the Atlantic this month, it’s clear that the once decidedly quirky and often eccentric devotees of offshore and ocean racing are becoming mainstream. This is further reinforced by the confirmation – which has been flagged for a long time now – that World Sailing and the Olympics organisation will be evaluating an experimental two-handed and possibly gender-mixed offshore contest in parallel with the sailing events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad. W M Nixon wonders if long-serving offshore racing enthusiasts will really be a hundred per cent in support of these developments.

In sailing as in politics, ultimately everything is local. We’d always been interested in the Mini-Transat, but never more than the time when Enda O’Coineen did it rather longer ago than he cares to remember. And when the second stage of this year’s race got going from Las Palmas to Martinique on November 1st, the hearts of the Irish sailing community were with our folk hero Tom Dolan, the farmboy from Meath who has shown he can cut it with the best of them in this uniquely demanding branch of the ocean game.

yacht pamela2Never mind the weather, the tent is up and setting a treat…..Unlike the Mini-Transat boats which crossed the Atantic two weeks in advance of them, the crew of former Round Ireland winner Eamon Crosbie’s Discovery 55 Pamela will be enjoying considerable comfort during the ARC 2018. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

Then when the huge ARC 2017 got its incredibly varied fleet lumbering away last weekend, again from Gran Canaria, this time towards St Lucia, we tried to take an overview of the fleet, but inevitably became focused on Eamon Crosbie’s Discovery 55 Pamela from Dun Laoghaire with a merry crew on board. We’ve been observing that, like the rest of the fleet, she has found anything but regular northeast tradewinds out in the Atlantic, but she’s getting there nevertheless – race tracker here 

This weekend, there’s some quite heavy metal – some of it distinctly luxurious in tone – getting started in the RORC’s Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote, with the finish in Grenada. The fleet of 23 make up in quality what it lacks in quantity, for though the smallest boat is the JPK 10.10 Jangada, the largest is Daniel Stump’s Southernwind 96 Sorceress, while the longest is Ludde Ingvall’s uber-skinny 98ft Maxi CQS from Australia.

It’s aboard this extraordinary yoke that Ireland’s Sailor of the Year 2013 David Kenefick, now 26, is sailing as skipper. In an acknowledgement to the sheer power and reach of the French sailing scene, the young Cork sailor had been declared “Rookie of the Year” in the Figaro Solo circuit in 2013, and to the surprise of some of the more traditionally-minded adjudicators, this was seen by the sailing public as more important than some major achievements within Ireland, so four years ago Kenefick became their Number 1.


DavidKenefick Photo BCarlin 0704 IMG 0197 BCSomewhere in there on his Figaro Solo is David Kenefick, Ireland’s “Sailor of the year” 2013. Photo: Brian Carlin

"Ludde is a legend and it is a great privilege to sail with him as skipper of CQS,” commented Kenefick. We have a young and multinational crew and we cannot wait to take on the challenge. CQS is a fantastic race boat and I am sure we are all going to learn so much after 3,000 miles.”

“In my early days I had the pleasure of racing with Harold Cudmore and we are still great friends,” said Ludde Ingvall. “I remember meeting with Harold and asking him what drives us on, now that we have been racing so many years. He replied we must 'pass it on' and that is what we are doing for young sailors that show great ability and the attitude to succeed.”

kenefick ludvallCQS crew – 26 year old Dave Kenefick pictured (centre) with Ludde Ingvall at tne gala dinner and his Australian 98ft Maxi CQS in the RORC Transatlantic Race starting from Lanzarote. Also pictured (fourth from left) is Royal Ulster Olympian James Espey

It will be intriguing to learn from one of our own just what it’s like to sail on something like CQS, which you can see as either counter-intuitive, or else so very intuitive that she has come out the other side. And with Kenefick on board, we will be keeping a special eye on her showing as the longest boat.

In between CQS and the “little” Jangada, there’s an eclectic selection including that old war horse, the Volvo 70 Monster Project (Roman Guerra). But generally they’re top end boats of comfortable size while being competitive at the same time. And with a considerable emphasis on European entries (there are boats from nine countries), they’re living proof that the story of the Eurozone’s economic recovery is true, and it’s out there and floating on the Atlantic.

biscay 36 drawing10At the signing of the agreement to stage the RORC Transatlantic race from Lanzarote to Grenada are (left to right) Francine Stewart (Marketing Manager, Grenada Tourism Authority), Eddie Warden-Owen (CEO, RORC), Patricia Maher (Grenada Tourism Authority) and Michael Boyd (Commodore, RORC)

Typical of this is hyper-keen French owner-skipper Eric de Turkheim from La Rochelle, who we also feel is one of us, for if it hadn’t been for Rambler 88’s almost freakish performance in last year’s Volvo Round Ireland Race, his unusual-looking but effective Teasing Machine II would have been the overall winner.

Since then he has come up with the new 54ft Teasing Machine III, and though she wasn’t ready in time for the Fastnet Race in August, she made an impressive debut in the Middle Sea Race in late October, and would have been second overall if another of those pesky JPK 10.80s, this time the Russian-owned Bogatyr, hadn’t come out of the woodwork at the end, and snatched the win by six minutes, while Teasing Machine II was relegated to a close third overall.

So between CQS and Teasing Machine, we have favourites to follow. And although the RORC fleet start all of a week after the ARC, the winds along the sunshine route to the Caribbean are in such a wayward mood that it’s going to be fascinating comparing the relative performance of the two groups.

biscay 36 drawing10The new 54ft Teasing Machine II on her way to third overall in her first major event, the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2017. Photo Rolex

But what on earth, you might well wonder, is all this recitation of Atlantic voyagers and racers to do with giving only two instead of three cheers for the prospect of World Sailing shoe-horning offshore racing into the Olympics?

It’s simple. Offshore racing and its many organisations and events are so varied that trying to channel them into the narrow perspective of the Olympics, with its over-long four year cycle, is going to result in a very artificial construct. And the idea of having a man-and-woman crew of two who are declared to be the World Champions and Olympic Gold Medallists is so remote from the delicious, invigorating and multi-interest variety of the current offshore and ocean scene that we could be talking about two different planets.

For sure, it’s a notion which will appeal to newspaper headline writers. In the real red-top trade, sailing only makes sense when it’s in the Olympics or somebody is drowned. Beyond that, it’s simply too complex, varied and – let’s face it – self-absorbed, to promote itself as some sort of arena sport.

biscay 36 drawing10Eric de Turkheim, popular owner of Teasing Machine III, in Sydney preparing to race Teasing Machine II with success in the Sydney-Hobart Race

It was quite some time ago when two top honchos in American sailing announced that they were determined to reduce the number of world titles recognized by the then International Yacht Racing Union, which went on to become ISAF, and is now World Sailing. Back in the day, these guys reckoned that the 143 different IYRU-recognised classes with International status being each entitled to their own World Championship was a nonsense, and numbers should be reduced.

You can see why they thought so. One hundred and forty three sailing world champions might seem a bit over the top. But the idea went down like a lead balloon. People cherish their own classes, they cherish their own world titles, and they cherish their own local setup. And though they take a polite interest in World Sailing’s new look World Championship for Olympic classes, as it so often seems to be held on the other side of the world they’ll only engage if they happen to know of someone taking part.

So it’s complicated enough with inshore racing. But when you add in the extra factors involved in the much more complex and quirky world of offshore and ocean racing, it sometimes goes beyond understanding.

biscay 36 drawing10The old war horse. The Volvo 70 Monster Project coming to the finish to take line honours in the 2014 Round Ireland Race. She’s still going strong, and is one of the entries in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Photo WSC

Yet the way things are provides something for everyone in the audience. While we pay lip service to approving the moves towards synchronising the IRC and ORC measurement systems, there’s a little bit of us that thinks it’s actually a pretty good idea having the two, as it allows for even more prizes, and they keep up the interest across a broader spectrum of the fleet.

Equally, an almost mind-numbing variety of events and organisations, a whole world away from the rigid one design format proposed for the Olympics offshore racing tryout, is what the global scene in the offshore game is all about. Think, for instance, of the 240 people from both sides of St George’s Channel who gathered at the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association’s annual black tie dinner and prize-giving earlier this month in the National Yacht Club. All power to the great Peter Ryan for organising it, these were genuine sportsmen and women who are dedicated to their interest afloat, yet somehow trying to link them directly to the sterile world of the Olympics just doesn’t make sense.

At the other extreme, our own deservedly admired 2016 Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy instantly made herself much more interesting, much more of a three-dimensional character, when she courageously took on the crewing job aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic in the Volvo Ocean Race. There’s no doubt that having the fitness of an Olympic athlete is a real asset in a Volvo 65, but the concept of the Volvo Ocean Race is a million miles from Olympic theory.

In a different direction, sailing also includes the craziness of the America’s Cup, but in the offshore and ocean sphere, it’s generally agreed that the supreme event is the Vendee Globe. Nothing could be simpler in concept than one sailor on his or her own racing non-stop round the world out of a French port which finds it has stumbled on a world-beating event. Yet nothing is more complex than the actual machinations of the Vendee Globe, but the Olympic ideal it ain’t.

biscay 36 drawing10A very different machine from a Laser Radial – Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy is one of the round the world crew on turn the Tide on Plastic

But despite these enormous difference, the fact of offshore racing becoming linked to the Olympics might make life a little easier for people like Tom Dolan who have literally re-invented themselves in the strange world of solo offshore racing, but find it extremely difficult to explain to non-sailors, especially those who might have a sponsorship budget, just what’s going on. However, mention the Olympics, and it’s a bit of a light-bulb moment.

That said, the proposed Olympic offshore course will be light years away from what Tom Dolan and his comrade-rivals put themselves through during the first 15 and more days of November. We carried an extract of winner Erwan Le Daroulec’s take on it earlier this week, but it’s worth repeating (and don’t sign off, the real meat of this week’s blog is at the end). Le Draoulac wrote:

“I brought a book with me, but I never thought to read it. I helmed, I ate, I slept, I answered the calls of nature, a real animal life. It was a nightmare.

The boat was soaked the whole time. I never dumped any sails, I just went up forward to reinforce my bowsprit. To get to sleep when I was under autopilot, I put on my headphones with some audio books and I listened again to the whole of Harry Potter. It was the only way of preventing stress whilst the boat was powering along at 18 knots, sometimes under autopilot, but I never eased off the pace.

It was only in the last two days where I dropped the large spinnaker in the squalls. I said to myself that it would be too silly to break everything so close to the goal. Prior to that though I really attacked hard. I knew I was risking a dismasting, but my line of thinking was that I was only twenty years old and that I’d have the opportunity to do another Mini-Transat. I didn’t make the most of it, I didn’t enjoy it. I’d like to the cross the Atlantic again, but gently so as to make the most of it.”

biscay 36 drawing10Erwan le Draoulec – he won, and won well, but says he didn’t enjoy it at all
We really must try a dose of the old Harry Potters the next time insomnia comes along…..but seriously, what sort of a sailing world have we created, that a 20-year-old old is trained to such a level of performance that he can turn in an incredibly brave and skilled world-beating performance, yet actually hates every minute of it?

That said, Tom Dolan reckons he only feels truly alive when he’s “in the zone”, racing his little boat flat out. However, since he finished he has quietly revealed that, two days out from the finish, he survived an experience which was beyond fulfilling.

He was running in the dark in about 30 knots of wind and going a dream under the small spinnaker, nicely on track for fourth with a good chance of a bite at third, when out of the still-total blackness a 45 knot squall struck. IRL 910 went faster and faster, then a steep one lifted her from astern, and the tip of her stemhead went under the bow-wave. Within seconds, she’d done a complete pitchpole.

Tom found himself in the water in the dark, and his boat inverted for what seemed forever beside him. But she shook herself upright, he hauled himself aboard, and to his amazement everything, rig and all, still seemed intact. It was the first time he’d ever heard of a Min-Transat boat pitch-poling and not being dismasted, and miraculously it had happened to an under-funded Irishman who was campaigning on little more than wing and a prayer. He still had his wing. He will have sent have up a little prayer of thanks.

Then it was right back full on into the race, and we’ve all seen the vid of him finishing. But it’s worth repeating. You’re looking at a real hero.

He was within 48 minutes of being third and on the podium, but it was miraculous he was there at all. As for the final overall placings based on the total accumulated times for the two legs, the word is that won’t be officially announced until the Paris Boat Show on December 8th, when they’ll also stage the prize-giving.

biscay 36 drawing10Tom Dolan with his new boat in 2016, when he won his first race. It has been revealed that he came fifth in the second leg of the Mini Transat despite being pitch-poled two days before the finish

At the Paris Boat Show they’ll also officially announce the Golden Globe 18, golden oldies of a past era racing round the world in celebration of the Golden Jubilee the original Golden Globe, the non-stop round the world solo race of 1968 which was won by Robin Knox-Johnston in Suhaili. To be eligible, you have to be racing a “closed profile” (ie non fin-and-keg) boat of around 36ft, and Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin is entered with a Biscay 36 which he is currently preparing.

But as the organisers couldn’t get any British port associated with the original race to take it on fifty years later, Les Sables d’Olonne in France, home of the Vendee Globe, stepped up to the plate, and they will be the host port. It’s a perfect illustration of the huge spread of French interest in offshore racing. In fact, you might be making a sensible wager if you bet on France to support the new offshore event in the Olympics, but only if they can present the medals at the subsequent Paris Boat Show…

Meanwhile, as to Ireland being ready and willing for involvement in an Olympic offshore racing class, we certainly have plenty of keen young ocean racers, both men and women, who will be mustard keen if the resources can be found to get their campaigns under way. But as it is, the world of offshore racing is already rich in its diversity without being forced into any Olympic straitjacket. And that’s the way it is in Ireland too. We seem to like it that way too, but if the Olympics come calling, they’ll be welcome to join the party.

biscay 36 drawing10Tough and compact – the hull profile of a vintage Biscay 36. Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin will be racing one in next year’s Golden Jubilee of the Golden Globe Race. But despite the original having started and finished in England, the 2018 version will start and finish in France

Published in W M Nixon

Even as the huge fleet of cruisers and racers - including Eamon Crosbie’s Discovery 56 Pamela from Dun Laoghaire - are into the third day of their Transatlantic crossing in the ARC 2017 from Gran Canaria to St Lucia, on the other side of the ocean at St Marin in Martinique, the number-crunchers for the Mini-Transat La Boulangere 2017 are putting the last touches to their official statement of the overall final results writes W M Nixon.

These will emerge from the amalgamation of the official times of Legs 1 – from La Rochelle in France to Las Palmas in the Canaries, and Leg 2 – from Las Palmas via a gate in the Cape Verde Islands to Martinique. This may sound simple enough, but the tail enders were still tumbling in to St Marin right through the weekend, and with so much at stake with some quite substantial sponsorships involved among the 80 or so finishers, they have to be sure that no infringement of regulations is revealed after they have published results.

However, as an interim move this morning, they published the provisional results for Leg 2, and Ireland’s Tom Dolan is confirmed as fifth, just 48 minutes after third-placed Benoit Sineau. The brief official statement is as follows:

Mini Transat 

Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry) crossed the finish line in the second stage of the Mini Transat La Boulangère on Thursday, November 16th at 2h50'15 '' (French time). His race time on this 2nd stage is 14 days, 12 hours, 42 minutes, 15 seconds at an average speed of 8.43 knots.

There has been a flood of finishers over the past few days, and these are the top ten finishers in the Proto and Series fleets for the second leg from Las Palma to Le Marin:
PROTO:
1. Ian Lipinski

2. Jorg Riechers

3. Simon Koster

4. Andrea Fornaro

5. Keni Piperol

6. Quentin Vlamynck

7. Camille Taque

8. Aurelien Poisson

9. Arthur Leopold Leger

10. Frederic Guerin

SERIES:


1. Erwan Le Draoulec

2. Clarisse Cremer
3. Benoit Sineau

4. Tanquy Bouroullec

5. Thomas Dolan

6. Pierre Chedeville

7. Valentin Gautier

8. Germain Kerleveo

9. Yannick Le Clech

10. Cedric Faron

Meanwhile, here are thoughts on his race from Production Boat Winner Erwan le Draoulec which give us some idea of what is involved:

“I brought a book with me, but I never thought to read it. I helmed, I ate, I slept, I answered the calls of nature, a real animal life. It was a nightmare.

The boat was soaked the whole time. I never dumped any sails, I just went up forward to reinforce my bowsprit. To get to sleep when I was under autopilot, I put on my headphones with some audio books and I listened again to the whole of Harry Potter. It was the only way of preventing stress whilst the boat was powering along at 18 knots, sometimes under autopilot, but I never eased off the pace.

It was only in the last two days where I dropped the large spinnaker in the squalls. I said to myself that it would be too silly to break everything so close to the goal. Prior to that though I really attacked hard. I knew I was risking a dismasting, but my line of thinking was that I was only twenty years old and that I’d have the opportunity to do another Mini-Transat. I didn’t make the most of it, I didn’t enjoy it. I’d like to the cross the Atlantic again, but gently so as to make the most of it.”

chedeville draoulec dolan2Comrades and rivals – Pierre Chedeville, Erwan Le Draoulec and Tom Dolan

Published in Solo Sailing

With Production Class winner Erwan Le Draoulec finished early this morning in the Mini-Transat 2017 with a very clear lead, Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan’s many supporters at home and abroad maintain a slim hope that he might yet scrape through to a podium finish writes W M Nixon.

He has had a good night’s racing in fifth place, and has closed up to just two miles astern of Tanguy Boroullec in fourth and five miles behind Benoit Sineau in third, while Sineau still has 37.2 to race to the finish at Le Marin on Martinique.

However, Clarisse Cremer lying second well ahead has only 17 miles to go and is making 9.3 knots in a steady breeze, as is Sineau. But the two boats astern of him – Bouroullec and Dolan - are slightly slower at 8.9 for Bouroullec and 8.7 for Dolan.

Doubtless these speeds will pick up as they begin to enjoy the fresher breeze ahead. Yet with such even matching of speeds, the chances of position changes at this late stage are receding. But we live in hope. And with 25 miles clear back to sixth-placed Pierre Chedeville, Tom Dolan is at least reasonably sure of a fifth.

Tracker here 

Published in Solo Sailing
Tagged under

Fortunes have waxed and waned as the 80 little boats in the Mini Transat Boulangere close towards the finish of the 2,000 mile transoceanic leg from Las Palmas in the Canaries - via a mandatory gate in the Cape Verde Islands - to St Marin in Martinique in the Caribbean writes W M Nixon.

Bowling along in the fluctuating east to northeast tradewinds, as expected the Prototype Division’s Ian Lipinski with the scow-bowed Griffon.fr has led the fleet overall to the line. He finished yesterday, and Proto runner-up Jorg Riechers is only slowly approaching the line in locally very light airs for his finish this morning.

It’s a result which gives Lipinski a remarkable double, as he won the Production Class in the previous staging of this biennial classic two years ago – it’s the first time in the 40 year history of the event that the double has been achieved.

mini transat dolan2Tom Dolan, Ireland’s second-ever entrant in the Mini-Transat (Enda O Coineen was the first a long time ago), is facing a battle for fourth or perhaps third place in the Production Class in the final 200 miles of the Mini-Transat

In this year’s Production Class, Ireland’s Tom Dolan has found himself entering the concluding two hundred miles in a four-way battle for the final position in the quartet which will fill the second, third, fourth and fifth places. However, “four way battle” is only a relative term imposed by the considerable distance being raced. This morning, twenty miles separate Clarisse Cremer in second from Dolan in fifth, as they have respectively 89.7 and 109.7 miles to the leader Erwan le Draoulec, who is in turn 145 miles from the finish.

Dolan has a good chance of improving to fourth as he is only 4 miles astern of Benoit Sineau currently in fourth, and the Irish sailor has marginally improved his position during the past four hours. But options for making major tactical gains are closing off as the finish is neared and the fleet’s tracks get closer together.

At the front of the Production fleet where the leaders are racing the Pogo 3, wunderkind Erwan Le Draoulec – he’s aged just 20 – is in a world of his own with those 145 miles still to sail. With nearly 90 miles clear of second-placed Cremer, his current speed of 7.7 knots is currently maintaining his lead. That said, as Jorg Riechers has been learning the hard way in recent hours, actually getting to the finish line off a Caribbean Island can sometimes be difficult for the final few miles. But nevertheless Le Draoulec has every reason for confidence.

Tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing

Tom Dolan has been having a good week in the Mini-Transat as he consolidates his position among the leading five writes W M Nixon. This morning, he’s in third place, having gained from his closest challenger Pierre Chedeville making what proved to be an unrewarding diversion to the southwards earlier in the week as the fleet tacks to lee in the prevailing east to northeast winds.

A fairly consistent favourable wind pattern has built up round the lower flank of the large Azores High Pressure System centred well to the north as the little boats put the turning gate at the Cape Verde Islands far astern. This has resulted in steady though not spectacular speeds as the large fleet make westing. That said, it tells us much about the calibre of the current range of Proto and Production boats in this, the 40th Anniversary Mini-Transat, that “steady though not spectacular speeds” have seen the Production boats around the 8 to 11 knot level, while the Prototypes, led by Ian Lipinski’s Griffon.fr, have been logging mostly 9 to 12 knots.

Lipinski yesterday went through the thousand-miles-to-go stage to the finish at Martinique as he continues to stride out at the front of the fleet, which has generally followed his strategy of searching for the firmer winds indicated to the north of the direct Cape Verde-Martinique route.

Clear in the lead in the Production Class is 20-year-old Erwan le Draoulec, currently on port gybe and closing again southwestwards towards the baseline at a speed of 9.8 knots. The overall placings – inevitably something of a guesstimate in a tacking-to-lee situation like this – show Le Draoulec as 49.8 miles ahead of second-placed Clarisse Cremer who is at 8.7 knots, while more or less directly astern and also now on port is Tom Dolan, making a better 10.8 knots, but he’s 96 miles behind Le Draoulec.

However, he currently has an indicated distance cushion of 11 miles between himself and closest contender, 4th placed Benoit Sineau, while his challenger early in the week, Pierre Chedeville, is fifth and indicated as 34 miles behind Dolan. So we can allow ourselves to feel reasonably assured that Tom Dolan is lying third as he races on towards the weekend, with the significant passing of the thousand-miles-to-the-finish marker being the next item on the agenda for the Meath sailor and his Production Class rivals. Leader Le Draoulac now has only 112 miles to go to this key psychological staging post.

 Race tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing
Tagged under

Ireland’s solo sailor Tom Dolan moved up to 15th place over-night as the fleet in Mini-Transat continues to hold closer to the African coast in search of stronger northeast breezes writes W M Nixon. However, the decision to make the break to start to get nearer the base line to the turning point at Santo Antao in the Cape Verde Islands will rise steadily up on today’s agenda, and already current leader Remi Aubron is on starboard tack, and well over to the westward of the rest of the fleet.

But he has seen his speed go down to 8 knots, while Dolan and his sparring partner Pierre Chedeville, still on port tack over towards Africa, are on 11 and 10 knots respectively. Between them. but likewise still on port and on speeds comparable with Dolan and Chedeville, are the most consistent performers Tanguy Bouroullec, Clarisse Cremer and Erwan Le Draoulec, currently rated as 2nd, 3rd and 4th on the leaderboard. 

Race tracker here 

Published in Solo Sailing

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 

Published in Solo Sailing
Tagged under

Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan has vowed to bounce back after a disappointing start to his bid to reach the podium of the Mini Transat when the second leg begins on November 1.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, admits he was "gutted" to finish the first stage of the iconic solo race in 12th place in the 56-strong 'série' division for production boats.

One of the pre-race favourites after a strong 2017 season, Dolan led the fleet out of La Rochelle, France, until realising he had made a course error and had to turn back.

The mistake relegated him to the back of the fleet but he managed to fight his way back to finish Leg 1 in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, just outside the top ten after just shy of 11 days at sea.

Tired and frustrated by the result, Dolan flew home to Ireland to rest and recharge at his parents' house.

With the start of the second stage - a 2,700 nautical mile race across the Atlantic to Le Marin in Martinique - looming, Dolan said he is ready to put leg one behind him and pull out all the stops for leg two.

“It was heartbreaking having to sail back under spinnaker towards La Rochelle when I realised I'd made a mistake a few hours after the start of leg one,” he said.

“I managed to claw my back back to twelfth but it wasn't the result I was after. I was gutted.

“I decided to go home for a bit to rest up. It was my first week off in months and it did me well.

“Now I'm looking forward to getting going again. The run-up to the start of leg one in La Rochelle were stressful but going into the second leg will be much easier without so many commitments. It'll be nice to concentrate solely on the sailing.”

Despite Dolan's disappointment his goal of a podium finish is still very much doable – the Mini Transat is scored on cumulative time, and he is currently just seven hours behind leg one winner Valentin Gautier.

Unlike in the first leg where the fleet sailed a fairly straight line south west to Las Palmas, the second stage across the Atlantic will provide plenty more tactical options.
“I need to make up seven hours on first place and five hours on second - it's nothing really over a 2,700-mile leg,” Dolan said.
“Because the next stage is across the Atlantic there will be much bigger lateral splits between boats. Anything can happen. One wind shift of a few degrees could see that time wiped off.”

The forecast for the start of leg two, beginning on Wednesday, is for stable North Easterly winds of 12-14 knots – perfect conditions to propel the fleet out into the Atlantic.

The stage is expected to take around two weeks to complete.

Follow Dolan's progress in the race here. Tom races in the Série Fleet. His boat is 910 Offshoresailing.fr

Published in Solo Sailing

Royal Cork's Mark Mansfield, the four time Olympic helmsman, dropped in on Tom Dolan in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria ahead of today's prologue in the second leg of the Mini Transat.

Regular readers will know that solo sailor Dolan, who led the first leg of the race before discovering he had made a course error, has given a sincere account of his first leg trials to Afloat.ie readers here.

Full–time sailor Mansfield, who featured on Afloat.ie recently, says 'Tom's in good form and raring to get back out there and show what he can do'. 

The race itself restarts on Wednesday with the transatlantic leg.

Published in Solo Sailing

Tom Dolan has had a good rest and recharge after ten and a half tough days at sea during the first stage of the 2017 Mini–Transat. Here he gives a short rundown of how things went with some video from his onboard camera too.

I'm still a bit guilt ridden about making such a stupid mistake at the beginning. Some of you may be wondering exactly what happened: They set up a gate for us to sail through before heading out to sea just to regroup the fleet one last time for photo's, sponsors etc. As the weather for the start was forecast to be foggy they moved the gate at the last minute. They did not tell us in the briefing but simply added it to the amendment to the racing instructions and in the rush of the start and my head being elsewhere I never noticed the line about the start gate.

An hour after the start my buddy Pierre called me on the vhf to say I hadn't passed the gate. This threw me into a daze of confusion as the GPS was telling me that the gate was another 2 miles ahead. As there was very thick fog I hadn't seen the two black buoys that everyone had passed. I knew I was very far left, but had planned it to catch the outgoing tide around Ile d'Oileron, so I actually thought I was doing very well. Once I rushed below and pulled out the amendment to the race instructions I read the line stating it had been moved and my stomach sank.

After two years of preparing for this, the months spent working on the boat, the hours spent on trains to Paris and planes to Dublin, the miles of deliveries between Lorient and Concarneau and the long nights spent squinting in front of the computer screen preparing presentations and proposals and it only took me one hour and one line on a piece of paper to mess it all up.

I then had to sail back towards La Rochelle under spinnaker while the others where en route towards Cape Finistere. Once I had rounded the way-point of where the gate had been (the gate wasn't even there any more!) there were 10 miles between me and the lead group. For the next two days I struggled to sleep due to the guilt mixed with the urge to catch up to the lead group, with whom I have battled all season.,

I thought a lot about everyone who has helped me with this project and about all of those who had made the trip to La Rochelle just for me, how I had let them down and how I wanted to do well for them. The intensity of these first days allowed me to work quickly back up the fleet, but also threw my routine completely off. The important part of this leg was to arrive at Cape Finistere fresh and rested, I had made a good comeback but at a price.

By the time the wind and sea picked up and we passed the TSS, the lack of sleep meant I was completely "In the red" as we say, I didn't know where I was and I started seeing things, I usually manage my sleep very well, but this had thrown it completely off kilter. The fatigue resulted in me taking my foot off the throttle, I struggled to make decisions and it cost me miles.

The first sleep came after the Traffic Separation Scheme, in about 25 + knots screaming down waves at up to 15 knots, I think it was the relief of being away from the coast, clear of the TSS and on flatter sea which allowed me sleep. The boat screamed along as I snored in symphony! Once I woke things started to go better, I had created a massive lateral split taking quite a risk but it paid off, the wind shifted 20° to the right to NE and as I was the furthest west it was Christmas!

The middle part of the race went quite well. We enjoyed typical trade wind sailing, without the squalls and I had managed to work myself from last place up to the top ten. I was back in the match and it was fun, I aimed for a western route as the forecasts were telling us that there would be more wind in the west, as we would round a weak low pressure system over Portugal and have a good angle for the weak NE winds forecast over the Canaries, generated by a Low pressure system over the West African continent.

However the weather for the final part of the race wasn't to be so simple. Two huge but very weak areas of low pressure descended over the Canaries and it was a lottery about who they let through. I found myself in the lead of a group of 5 or 6 boats and things looked good for finishing at least in the top ten, and perhaps not too far from the podium. Two nights in a row we played lottery in the flukey winds and two nights in a row I lost.

The first of these nights I sailed into a hole with no wind, and the following boats just sailed around me (they could see on the AIS that I was stopped.) That night I lost 4 places. Then the next night was the most heart breaking. The same group who had managed to pass me and were just 3 miles to the west of me sailed off at 4 knots while I was stuck at zero, drifting with the current for 6 hours. That night cost me 15 miles. If everyone is stuck in a whole it's okay but when your the only one stuck and your competitors gently sail away it becomes unbearable.

The western route that we had taken meant that we had more ground to cover in what we have named the "Mistoufle", the newly created maritime word for a windless lottery. In the end those who played the eastern card won the gamble.

This is an intense sport, we deal with more highs and more lows, more moments of desolation and elation in three days at sea than we would in a year on land. We must assume our mistakes in their entirety without having anyone to turn to, anyone but ourselves to blame. We all live around a motto to which we turn to in the most difficult of times, "ne rien lacher", or "never give up". It may sound cringey and to be honest it is but the simple fact is that you are on your own, in the middle of the ocean and you have no choice but to continue. And when the time comes that things turn in your favor it is all the more rewarding, and this is the beauty of this sport.

So now it is time to put my brain into goldfish mode, like tennis players do, and to think only of the second leg. To think of it as a new start, a new race and hopefully at the end I will manage to scrape back enough time on the others to achieve the correct result that I hope so much for and I owe to so many of you,

Thank you so much again for the support, I am back in county Meath for a few days rest then back to the Canaries on the 25th.

Published in Solo Sailing
Page 1 of 4

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton
bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating