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Thomas Dolan On What Happened to His Mast (Podcast) in Leg One of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro

27th August 2018
Mast repairs underway on Tom Dolan's Figaro yacht today Mast repairs underway on Tom Dolan's Figaro yacht today Photo: Facebook/Tom Dolan

Andi Robertson spoke with Ireland's solo sailor Thomas Dolan about his retiral from leg one of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro. Listen in to the recording below

Race Director Francis Le Goff commented this morning from on board the monitoring catamaran the ‘Etoile’ shadowing near the fleet on the first period of Stage 1 of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, “The fleet is just a little ahead of the (predicted) routing. The only thing is the breakages which we are sorry for. But, except for Nathalie Criou, the fleet is still in a good sized group which – in terms of us keeping an eye on everyone is good news. And the fact that no one passed south of the TSS (forbidden shipping lane area). It is not surprising to see Charlie Dalin, Seb Simon or Alexis Loison at the front after they all made average starts. That really is and an indication of their ambition and their ability. Alan Roberts has proven he is fit and in the match. The big question which we will see answered in the next 12 hours is what the choices will be as the wind drops away (with the return of high pressure, and summer!). It will be complicated all the way to Wolf Rock.”

"I had been under heavy spinnaker for a mile or two in distance and we were just passing the Radio France Buoy and I heard a thud"

Thomas Dolan (IRL) Smurfit Kappa this morning in Le Havre: 
What happened exactly? 
TD: "I had been under heavy spinnaker for a mile or two in distance and we were just passing the Radio France Buoy and I heard a thud. It was not a normal thud and straight away you have that feeling inside. I did think straight away about the spreader and had Lois right beside me and so I shouted 'Is my spreader OK?' He looked and said it was OK. And then I saw the leeward shroud (which holds the mast up) banging around. It did not sink in. But automatically to save the mast like, I dropped the sails and tied on a couple of halyards. Then it settled in for me. It took a while to realise the leg is over. I rang Francis Le Goff( Race Direction) and said 'here how does it work, can I fix and go on?' and he said 'Afraid not because you have passed the Radio France buoy. You can't go back. And so I had a bit of a cry about that. As soon as I dropped the job there was a lump of metal dropped on to the deck. I thought 'that's it' I can't fix it. I took the seal off the engine and that is it. 



How did you feel then and now, the morning after? 
It is weird to come back into the village with all the flags being taken down. It is the first time it has happened to me. I did my first race in 2012 and have sailed the equivalent of a lap of the world at least, and have never had to give up. I broke a rudder one year in the Mini Fastnet but still finished. I guess if you do so many miles over the years it is going to happen, but on the first leg of your first Solitaire, it's hard to take.

The Rookie podium may be gone then? 
I guess so. That is a one-shot thing. It is more or less cooked. I will head off this evening with Eric Delamare (Region Normandie). It is such a pity for us Gildas Mahé (retired into Cowes with broken spreader too) was my coach for a while and Fred (Duthil) helped me out with sails a while ago, and so for us, all to drop out is hard to take.

What's the plan? 
I will head off this evening with Eric for a little leisurely sail to Saint Brieuc.

It is more frustrating because you were going well with a decent start? 
"I was going well, I was happy with my speed. And I saved all my sails.

Does it make it better or worse to know there are other good guys dropped out of Leg 1? 
Worse probably, I am quite close to them so it is worse. Gildas was almost first and has had a tough few years. He deserves much better.

Published in Figaro
Afloat.ie Team

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The Solitaire du Figaro, was originally called the course de l’Aurore until 1980, was created in 1970 by Jean-Louis Guillemard and Jean-Michel Barrault.

Half a decade later, the race has created some of France's top offshore sailors, and it celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new boat equipped with foils and almost 50 skippers Including novices, aficionados and six former winners.

The solo multi-stage offshore sailing race is one of the most cherished races in French sailing and one that has had Irish interest stretching back over 20 years due to the number of Irish stopovers, usually the only foreign leg of the French race.

The race has previously called to Dingle, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Howth and Dun Laoghaire.

In 2013 Royal Cork's David Kenefick raised the bar by becoming a top rookie sailor in the race

In 2018, for the first time Ireland will have two Irish boats in the offshore race thanks to Tom Dolan and Joan Mulloy who join the rookie ranks and keep the Irish tricolour flying high in France. 

The 2019 course is more Than 2,000 miles between Nantes, Kinsale (Ireland), Roscoff and Dieppe and is the longest in the race's history.

 

At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

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