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Injured Solo Sailor Tom Dolan Says He Will Be Fit for May Double-Handed Transat

30th March 2021
Tom Dolan - overbalanced while stepping back into the cockpit of his Figaro Beneteau 3 and landed heavily, hurting his ankle and injuring his hand
Tom Dolan - overbalanced while stepping back into the cockpit of his Figaro Beneteau 3 and landed heavily, hurting his ankle and injuring his hand Credit: via Facebook

County Meath solo sailor Tom Dolan is confident he will be fighting fit for the double-handed Transat en Doible Concarneau to Saint Barthelem which starts May 9th. This is despite an ankle injury sustained by Dolan in the Season Opening Solo Maître Coq at the weekend.

As Afloat reported earlier, the Irish Sailor of the Year sustained the ankle injury midway through the 340 nautical miles long offshore race curtailed Dolan’s chances of a top 10 overall finish in the first solo race of the French Figaro season.

At the Ile de Ré, the southernmost turning point of the course, the skipper of Smurfit Kappa was comfortably racing among a strong breakaway group of ten leading the 29 strong fleet, when he overbalanced while stepping back into the cockpit of his Figaro Beneteau 3 and landed heavily, hurting his ankle and injuring his hand.

At first, in the light airs he tried to carry on but as the wind and seas built with the arrival of a front, the pain was scarcely bearable and it became obvious to Dolan that he had no alternative but to retire into Lorient. A medical examination has subsequently confirmed his ankle is badly sprained with some nerve damage. He has been told to rest his leg for three weeks to one month.

“It is just one of these things. I had had a problem with the tack line and had been up to the bow to fix it and I just stepped awkwardly back into the cockpit. I hurt my left hand and right foot. It is a lesson to be more careful in the future. I’ll lose a little bit of training time before the Transatlantic Concarneau Saint Barths but I am staying positive. I had sailed well in the opening races and was up with the top group when it happened so I am not despondent.” Dolan reported today (Monday) after finally being reunited with his phone which was left (according to the race rules) in Les Sables d’Olonne, the start and finish port.

“Initially I was determined to go on and finish but as the wind and seas built up it was apparent how immobile I was and it was clearly dangerous to go on.” He recalled, “I will be so much more careful in the future.”

Having finished seventh and 13th in the two inshore races last Monday and Tuesday, Dolan had started the offshore race in ninth place. Even counting the ‘RTD’ (retired) from the offshore race he still finished 18th, still his best result in the season opener yet.

“Look I am pretty happy nonetheless. I was good all round and was with the breakaway group and was going well. Overall I have good speed. I am still not very quick under gennaker and so that is a work in progress, I am not slow but neither am I the fastest. Meantime I have two or three weeks of physiotherapy to get on with and will be taking it carefully.” Tom Dolan concluded today.

Andi Robertson

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Andi Robertson

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Andi Robertson is an international sailing journalist based in Scotland

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Tom Dolan, Solo Offshore Sailor

Even when County Meath solo sailor Tom Dolan had been down the numbers in the early stages of the four-stage 2,000 mile 2020 Figaro Race, Dolan and his boat were soon eating their way up through the fleet in any situation which demanded difficult tactical decisions.

His fifth overall at the finish – the highest-placed non-French sailor and winner of the Vivi Cup – had him right among the international elite in one of 2020's few major events.

The 33-year-old who has lived in Concarneau, Brittany since 2009 but grew up on a farm in rural County Meath came into the gruelling four-stage race aiming to get into the top half of the fleet and to underline his potential to Irish sailing administrators considering the selection process for the 2024 Olympic Mixed Double Offshore category which comes in for the Paris games.

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