French boy sets record for crossing English Channel in tiny sailboat

French schoolboy Tom Goron, 12, got a hug from his mum and bottle of sparkling apple juice after his record single-handed crossing of the Channel in a tiny sail boat.

Tom set sail from the Needles, Isle of Wight, at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) Wednesday and arrived 14 hours and 20 minutes later at Cherbourg, northern France, setting a new record for the trip in an Optimist dinghy, a craft designed for inshore sailing and measuring less than eight feet long (2-1/2 metres).

Tom vomited 10 times and was constantly seasick as his tub-shaped craft was tossed on the swell.

His arrival home was a “deliverance,” said his father Nicolas, who shadowed the dinghy in a larger yacht during the voyage.

Despite the tribulations Tom was beaming after learning that he had established a new record for the 60 nautical miles, shaving 36 minutes off the previous best in an Optimist set by French girl Violette Dorange, then 15, in 2016.

Mother Sophie praised Tom’s performance after tides and winds turned against him over the final stretch.

“He is stubborn, ambitious and persevering… he is one to watch,” she said.

After announcing that his priority after finishing the crossing was to munch a hamburger, then sleep, Tom said his next goal — maybe in 10 years time — was to sail solo round the world.

Meanwhile French authorities criticised the feat, saying it had been done without permission in a boat designed as learner craft for would-be child sailors.

“An Optimist.. is considered suitable for the beach and 300m out,” said police. “You can’t go on the open sea. It’s banned.”   /vvp

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