Tom Dolan from County Meath may still seem to some to be the new boy on the block for Irish participation in the small boat solo sailing scene centred around France. But he has clocked up quite a few miles now with dogged determination towards the Mini Transat from his base in Concarneau in the heart of Brittany, and success is within reach.
In late April it all came good with the 300-mile opening race from Pornichet of the French Solo Offshore Championship, when Dolan recovered from what he ruefully recalls as “a mediocre start” amongst the 52-strong fleet, with further angst when his group stalled while those to the south kept slipping along.
Then the new breeze filled in to give him such a boost that at one stage he was overall leader by nearly a mile, but in the final three miles to the finish his sparring partner Pierre Chedeville (the winner last year) was on the right side of a shirt to take the lead. Then from the next group, Swiss sailor Valentin Gautier took a flyer to the north and had was ahead of both leaders at the line, but Tom Dolan’s podium place in a race of this calibre makes him a worthy Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month (Offshore) ” for April.