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Thomas Dolan Putting A Brave Face on Disappointment

Published on 27/08/2018

Irish skipper Thomas Dolan is making the best of it this morning after having to return to Le Havre within 90 minutes of starting the first stage of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro. He has repaired the spreader fitting which broke and will head to Saint Brieuc this evening accompanied by local Normandy skipper Eric Delamare who also had to return to Le Havre with damage. Dolan was looking to be on the Rookie podium but now is veyr likely to miss out because of his retiral from Leg 1. Having started La Solitaire, even only for less than two hours, he says he would not be eligible to race as a Rookie again...

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 of 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 tor 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.

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