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Hyde Sails 2017 Dinghy Show

Ireland's Tom Dolan out for revenge in second leg of solo Transgascogne race

by Will Carson on 5 Aug 5 August 2017
Irish solo sailor Tom Dolan during the Transgascogne Race © Christophe Launay

Mini 6.50 sailor Tom Dolan will begin the second stage of a gruelling solo race through the Bay of Biscay today looking to avenge his result in leg one when he was denied a podium place by just one second.

Dolan, 30, was pipped to third place in the opening leg of the Transgascogne race from Les Sables d'Olonne in France to Aviles in northern Spain when rival Germain Kerlevo ghosted across the finish line just a metre ahead.

For the young sailor from Kells, County Meath, it was a frustrating end to what had been a challenging two-day leg in his 21ft racing yacht contested in light, fluky winds.

But the race is far from over – and the 245-mile return leg to Les Sables, which begins today at midday local time, is forecast to be upwind in light breeze, thus providing plenty of opportunities for Dolan to realise his goal of an overall podium position.

"The result in the first leg left me feeling a bit sick," said Dolan, one of Ireland's most promising young solo sailors.

"At one point Germain was 11 miles behind me but it's always a lottery when you arrive into northern Spain and he managed to reel me in.

"It was a real photo finish on the line but unfortunately he crossed it just a metre ahead. It's frustrating because after all that hard work it ended up coming down to luck, but if anything it's made me more determined to right those wrongs in leg two."

The Transgascogne is the final race of the Mini Series before October's Mini Transat, a 4,000-mile epic from La Rochelle in France across the Atlantic to Le Marin in Martinique.

It is often seen as an indicator as to how competitors will fare in the biennial Transat, the main event of the 2017 season.

Dolan, who has lived in France since 2009, is nicknamed L'Irlandais Volant – the flying Irishman – by French sailors and media alike thanks to a string of top results so far this year.

He has finished on the podium in three of the last five Mini races, and remains one of the podium favourites for the Mini Transat.

Dolan's progress in the Transgascogne can be tracked at transgascogne.geovoile.com/2017/tracker.

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