From dreams to reality
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 Meath countryside. 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 30thousand 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
Despite arriving in 22nd place, Tom managed to finish as second rookie overall in the annual rankings and decided to persist with offshore racing. So in 2016 he came back with a blast and a new boat. The first race of 2016 resulted in him becoming the first Irish person to win a solo race in France, breaking years of local dominance. Overall he has clocked up over 20,000 miles of offshore racing over 14 races. 10 times finishing in the top 5, 5 podium finishes and two victories. This year he sets his sights on the Solitaire Du Figaro and beyond to the Vendée Globe.
To help finance the 2015 Mini Transat, Tom joined up with his friend and co-skipper Francois Jambou and together they began offering sailing lessons on their boats. They soon realized that there was quite a strong demand for their services as people were attracted by the speed and manoeuvrability offered by these small boats. In 2016 they decided to work in a more professional manner and Offshoresailing.fr was born. Since then they have trained over 40 sailors from many nationalities: Irish, German, French, Belgian, Austrian, Chinese. Offshoresailing.fr also offers boat preparation services, project management (Mini, Transquadra) and very shortly will cater for crewed racing and team building activities for businesses.