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12-year-old French boy breaks Channel record

The Connexion, Jul 1

A 12-year-old boy from Brittany has set a new world record to become the youngest person to cross the English Channel in a small children’s dinghy.

Tom Goron, from Aucaleuc (Côtes-d'Armor), took 14 hours and 20 minutes to sail from the Isle of Wight to Cherbourg, making the 96km journey in a small Optimist sailing boat this week.

The boy’s father followed behind in case anything went wrong, but Tom completed the trip and broke the record previously set in 2016 by 15-year-old Violette Dorange (14 hours, 56 minutes).

His average speed was just over four knots (around 7.6kph).

Tom’s mother said: “I am proud of him [my son]. He is stubborn, ambitious, and determined.”

The boy reportedly suffered from bad seasickness - saying afterwards that he vomited 10 times during the trip - and wanted to give up after five hours, but was persuaded to continue by his father.

After finishing his crossing, Tom said that he was inspired by French yacht racer François Gabart, who set a new world record last year for the fastest solo sail around the world.

According to local news source Ouest France, Tom was two years old when he first set foot on an Optimist dinghy, and has continued sailing ever since, learning at the Saint-Suliac (Ille-et-Vilaine) nautical centre in Rennes.

This year, he finished sixth out of 60 sailors in the Coupe de Bretagne race, which is the last qualification round for the national championships.

He will now take part in the junior national championships from July 6, and hopes to compete in the Coupe Internationale this summer.

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