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Ireland's Tom Dolan out to make history in Mini-Transat La Boulangère

by Will Carson 28 Sep 08:05 BST 1 October 2017
Tom Dolan set for the Mini-Transat La Boulangère © Christophe Breschi

Solo sailor Tom Dolan will aim to make history by becoming the first Irishman ever to finish on the podium of the iconic Mini Transat race, which begins on Sunday, October 1st.

Dolan goes into the epic 4,000 nautical miler among the favourites in the Série class for production boats following a string of impressive results over the 2017 Mini 6.50 season.

The 30-year-old from Kells, County Meath, finished on the podium in three of the season's six races, and only narrowly missed out on a top-three spot in the most recent Transgascogne by a whisker.

Dolan, who relocated from Ireland to the Breton port of Concarneau, to pursue his Mini Transat dream, is now eagerly awaiting the start of the first leg of the race from La Rochelle to Gran Canaria in Canary Islands.

The 1,350 nautical mile leg should take around a week, and is followed by a longer 2,700 nautical mile stage across the Atlantic to Le Marin in Martinique, lasting around two weeks.

It is not the first time Dolan has taken on the race, which is considered one of sailing's toughest and a proving ground for offshore racing talent.

In the last edition of the race in 2015 he finished a respectable 22nd in what was his Mini Transat debut.

Two years on Dolan is back with a new goal – to finish on the podium. It is a feat no Irish sailor has ever achieved.

"I did this race two years ago and back then I didn't know what it would be like to sail solo across the Atlantic," said Dolan, who the French media have nicknamed 'l'Irlandais Volant' – the Flying Irishman.

"The advantage I have this time is that I know now, so that trepidation is far less. It's a different feeling this time round.

"My goal is undoubtedly to finish on the podium, something no Irish sailor has ever done in a solo transatlantic race of any class. To do that would mean the world to me."

Dolan, racing his boat, will go up against 56 other competitors in the Série class, with French sailors Clarisse Crémer (TBS) and Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile henry) among his hottest competition.

"Everything is ready now, I just can't wait to get started," Dolan added. "The build-up to a race is one of the hardest bits to deal with – I hate the waiting.

"I'm looking forward to getting going, and getting a few hours under my belt alone to get into the zone.

"I've spent two years working towards this one race – now I need to go out there and do it."