It was in 2009 that Tom left for France with a dream of racing across the oceans, a world little known of in Ireland, especially coming from a small farm in the Northeast of Ireland. From a young age Tom worked with cattle and sheep in the wind and the rain and the mud. Aged 9, on a small lake not far from his home, he first took to the water in a little wooden dinghy which he and his father had renovated. Unfortunately, as it remains quite an inaccessible sport in Ireland he left sailing behind and spent his teenage years in pursuit of a normal life, career and job. But in the back of his mind he always felt a yearning for the sea.
When he was 19 he was given the opportunity of becoming a volunteer with the Glenans Sailing School in Baltimore, Co. Cork, a French organization, based there since 1969. In exchange for their time and labour, it offered people the chance to learn about sailing and the sea. After volunteering with them for several months, he was offered a paid position and Tom bade farewell to the normal life of a landlubber! After a few years, he was offered the opportunity to train professionally at the largest Glenans base in Concarneau, in western Brittany.
He was now based in the Mecca of sailing and he began crewing and racing regularly. He learned the language and became fondly referred to as “the most Breton of the Irish”. In 2012 he got his first taste of the Mini Transat Class in a double handed race around the Fastnet rock and back. Despite finishing last he was hooked.
He set off to work for himself and began to make a living from all things sailing: deliveries, training, race boat preparation and recovery. He managed to notch up over 50 thousand miles including three Atlantic crossings. In 2014 a chance encounter with an old Glenans member gave him access to a Mini for his own use. He set out to compete in the infamous Mini Transat race in 2015