Post Solitaire blues

The Solitaire is not easy. At times I found myself not only fighting with my competitors, the boat and the conditions but also with myself on a scale I have not yet experienced in my life before. It was a hard one was the 45th edition of La Solitaire du Figaro.

As many of you know the Solitaire 2014 didn’t go as I planned, dropping 4 places from my 2013 performance finishing 28th overall of 38. Dealing with poor performance on board was one of the hardest things to deal with during the race this year. For sure there were high moments during all of the legs, but I never managed to finish well or be well place when it mattered and that was hugely, hugely frustrating.

EI2G9716_original

The Figaro and the Solitaire itself is addictive though, while in 2014 it has kicked me down hard and made me seriously question for what must be over the 100th time ‘what the hell am I doing here?!’ there is still a burning desire to come back next year and do a good race. I know a Top 20, Top 15 even is within reach for me and I feel like it will bug me and be a horrible itch until I have managed to achieved this goal.

Right now I have had 2 weeks since the finish in Cherbourg to rest, recover and catch up with friends and family. Last weekend I took junior sailors from my local club RDYC out on the boat which was an awesome day for me. To see the enthusiasm of kids learning to sail, asking endless questions and just simply wanting to learn was great to see.

RDYC  017 - Version 2

But I have definitely been feeling the post Solitaire blues. We work so hard for just under a year with just one goal and objective and now it is all over, what am I meant to do now?! I admit I feel a little lost and am looking forward to getting a sense of direction back again. This week my head is slowly starting to look ahead to the 2015 season. I have a good list of training objectives for what I want to improve on, and I have started the process of going over the tracker in great detail to look back at every decision I made to analyse what affected my decision making process’s and how the process itself can be improved.

The Figaro is a fickle old game that takes time we know that, and I have had the amazing opportunity from so many to start out incredibly young at it, under the premise of ‘potential’, but at some point I know I need to prove that the investment in me both by the Artemis Offshore Academy and my family of sponsors back home has been worthwhile. And perhaps this is one of my biggest driving factors right now.

T31A4620_original

Training for 2015 for me will start in September out of my home port of Dartmouth. I have a boat, sails and some fantastic local support which is going to help me get off the ground again for 2015. Each year though is like starting a new company, it all starts again, the fundraising, the sponsorship deals, it is a tireless task but luckily one I enjoy.

Thanks again to all for your incredible support this year, and I look forward to catching up with you all over the coming weeks and months.

H

Bomby announces 2014 season

Henry Bomby is delighted to announce that he will once again be participating in La Solitaire du Figaro for the third time after securing enough funding. The top Devon sailor will be one of 8 Brits taking part, all have passed through the Artemis Offshore Academy. Henry will also, for the first time, be competing in the whole of the ‘Championship of France’, racing on board his new boat, ‘Red’.

Henry Bomby, Red: “It is an honour for me to be racing under the name ‘Red’ of Joe Woods ‘Red Sailing Team’. I have raced with Joe for the last two years and last year Joe stepped in at the last minute, 2 weeks before the start of Solitaire to purchase 3 new sails for me, transforming my campaign. Spending £20-25k a year chartering a boat isn’t ideal if you are competing on the circuit for more than a year and so Joe agreed to buy a Figaro for me to use over the coming years, helping to massively reduce my campaign costs.”

Henry also sails with Joe’s team on the Melges 32 Circuit.

Henry Bomby, Red: “We have already sailed 2 events out in Miami this year as we build up to the Worlds in December which has been fantastic. Getting to sail with guys like Chris Draper, Alister Richardson and Shane Hughes is fantastic for me to learn. Their attention to detail in all aspects of the campaign is something I am trying to take into my Figaro campaign.”

1414

Bernard Gergaud

The ‘Championship of France’ is made up of the Solo Le Havre in May, the month-long Solitaire du Figaro in June and the Lorient-Horta-Lorient in September. The top 10 boats at the end of the championship win the right to compete with that number on their boat for the following season, which holds high prestige among the sailors! No British sailor has ever achieved a top 10 finish overall for the season before.

Henry Bomby, Red: “It is effectively a cheap year for us with no race in the Mediterranean and no single-handed Transat which are both equally as expensive as a Solitaire du Figaro campaign. The new solo race to the Azores and back from Lorient is a great new race and will deliver a great return to sponsors. It is also a great next stepping stone for me – 10 days racing alone at sea against the very best skippers in the world is ideal preparation for me as I hope to build towards the single-handed transatlantic race next year and ultimately a Vendee Globe.”

DSC_0094 - Version 2

“Achieving a top 10 position overall at the end of the year is not going to be easy and for sure it is a hugely ambitious goal, but I am excited to be able to have a fair crack at it this year thanks to the support of my growing family of sponsors around me.”

RockFish is also supporting Henry again this year. Owned by the celebrity chef Mitch Tonks they have been backing the young sailor since 2010.

Mitch Tonks, RockFish: “We have supported Henry since his first venture a few years ago when he sailed around Britain, we loved his enthusiasm and vision to be one of the world’s best offshore sailors. His current form shows he is well on the way and we are hoping for a top result in this year’s Figaro for him…. From there who knows!”

Henry Bomby, Red: “Mitch is hugely passionate about sailing and racing and over the years has become a great friend, in fact we are planning to do the ARC together in 2016 with a bunch of his friends! It is great to continue our partnership together as his RockFish brand and chain of restaurants grows across the South West of England and my sailing ambitions get bigger and bigger! With a new restaurant opening in the coming weeks near to my home in Torquay and the ever flourishing flagship restaurant in Plymouth where the Solitaire will be coming this year too.”

1727

Bernard Gergaud

Championship of France Races

La Havre Allmer Cup 2014 – 21st – 28th May
Solitaire du Figaro 2014 – 29th May – 3rd July
Lorient – Horta – Lorient – September

Henry’s full list of sponsors:

Red – Joe Woods/SHS Drinks
RockFish – Seafood and Chips Restaurant Chain
Artemis Offshore Academy – British Offshore Racing Academy
Speciality Fasteners – Specialists in one-of components and fastenings
Corinium Care – UK leading live-in Care agency
Gate Insurance – Experts in high risk and non standard insurance cover
Valeport – UKs leading oceanographic instruments manufacturer
Kaywana Hall – Luxury B&Bs
Baltic Wharf – Boat yard Totnes/ Riverside revival housing project
Zhik – Clothing supplier
English Braids – Rope supplier

-END-

-NOTES-

For more information / high res images and to arrange interviews please contact Sam Joseph 07867 511989. samajose1@gmail.com

Solo Concarneau 2014

The Solo Concarneau got off to the best possible start for me as I rounded the top mark in first place and led the fleet of 32 boats for the first time in my Figaro career! It was such an amazing feeling and one which I want to work hard to replicate as I can only imagine what crossing the finish line in first must feel like, not just at the start!

In order to get good at leading races, you have to spend time leading races, and I definitely showed my inexperience by sailing poorly after that, and not sticking to my game plan for the first beat as we headed West to the infamous Raz de Sein.

1727

In 20-24kts of breeze my boat speed felt good, but as the breeze increased to upwind in 30kts I felt I lacked a little pace against the very best guys and have got some things I would like to change in my setup for the next time to hopefully solve this – highlighting how important these races are as training and preparation towards the fast approaching Solitaire du Figaro starting at the end of this month.

I rounded the Raz de Sein in the late teens and managed to work my way up to just outside the Top 10 by the end of the beat thanks to some good tactical choices and hard work during the first night which was hugely rewarding.

134

As we sailed fast under spinnaker heading South for the first time in the race and back passed the Raz de Sein I popped up my brand new 2014 spinnaker which I took with me in order to get a good look at it before the Solitaire. It is a different design to one I have been training with all winter and last year and so I wanted to build my confidence and understanding with it.

I felt my pace was good again and managed to take 2 boats on this leg, rounding the Chausse de Sein mark to the west of the Raz de Sein in 11th place. I rounded close to Ed Hill and Xavier Macaire and we all set up for a gybe at the mark to start heading East to Brivideaux, an impressive lighthouse about 25nm off Lorient.

1478

As I approached the mark I was under pilot in True Wind Angle mode meaning it was following the wind not a compass heading. Ed rolled me as we came into the mark and effectively took my wind resulting in my boat bearing away, changing direction hard as I entered into his wind shadow. Unfortunately for me we were right by the mark at this stage and my heart dropped as my brand new spinnaker glanced against the very sharp cardinal mark and it ripped in numerous places.

I felt sick as it was her first outing and new sails are certainly not cheap! And it was a stupid mistake to make. I was extremely lucky that it didn’t rip worse than it did however. During a Solitaire leg I would have been able to repair it and carry on using it but it was not worth the risk here so I took it down and sailed under small spinnaker for the rest of the race.

IMG_191885448810398

The next leg was unfortunately a 90 nautical mile straight run in a dying breeze and with my small spinnaker, designed to be very flat for sailing close to the wind and not big a full away from it, I lost huge ground and slipped back to 30th from 11th. It meant I had to endure an incredibly painful day on the water as boats just slipped passed me slowly by surely over the next 18 hours.

As we rounded Brivideaux we finally stopped using our big spinnakers and mercifully it was good to be on the small spinnaker again as we sailed as close to the wind and as fast as possible to our most southerly mark Ile de Yeu, an island we often use in our races 20 miles off the West coast of France.

1411

I managed to take some places again here and rounded in 24th place just behind a pack of around 6 boats. As we sprinted home North back to Concarneau I managed to stick with the pack I was with however as we rounded the last mark and headed for Concarneau it was again however a 5 mile VMG run to the finish in 5 knots of wind, where my big spinnaker would have been the chosen sail, meaning I lost huge ground again in the final few miles, finishing up 26th of 32 in total. Which while is a very disappointing result, I am not to unhappy with as there are so many positives and I have lots to take away from this race and take into the Solitaire.

I have changed my program a bit building up to the Solitaire and will now be partaking in a smaller race called the Solo Basse Normandie in a weeks time to get some more race time in before the big one this year. That’s not before a quick pop back to Plymouth over the weekend for some training with fellow South West Figaro sailor Sam Goodchild and to announce my sponsors and boat name for the 2014 Figaro season on Monday.

The Solitaire is going to come around very quickly now but I cannot wait to get stuck in and just give it everything I have got for the month of June. I cannot wait to sail into Plymouth for the first leg with my new pride and joy to show her off to all my friends, family and sponsors who have helped and supported me so much over the last few years.

Bye for now,

H

Solo Maitre Coq 2014

It is always good to get the first race of the season out the way to know where you are within the fleet and what you need to work on before the start of the big one, La Solitaire du Figaro. Unfortunately for me the Solo Maitre Coq 2014 proved an uphill struggle from the start. Less than a minute after leaving the dock I went to put the autopilot on to hoist the main, and all of a sudden the electronics started beeping away at me. Having never had a problem with my electronics all winter training with this boat I suddenly had no pilot, the computer crashed, GPS lost connection to the computer and different error functions appeared on each different display. I was gutted, my heart sank. This wasn’t the first time this had happened and I couldn’t believe it had happened again.

I quickly turned round and returned to the dock. After calling TEEM (a company with very specific Figaro electronics know-how) to see if there could be a quick solution. It was soon apparent there wasn’t and so with help from Marcus and Phil from Artemis we decided it would be best for me to return out to the race course to not miss the start, now under the full knowledge that this race had just got a whole lot harder!

Bernard Gergaud

We rely on the pilot massively, sailing a 32ft boat without one for two days is near impossible, but luckily the forecast for the first 24 hours was very very light so for the start at least, it would be manageable. Luckily while out in the start area, I plugged in the second computer or ‘brain’ for the boat and found that this was working so along with the emergency tiller pilot I was able to start the race with some instruments and no constant bleeping. My head however was not in the right place, and for the first 6 hours I sailed dreadfully, not seemingly able to make a good decision but also just worrying about how I was going to complete the race and if I was going to be able to do it!

Bernard Gergaud

Luck was on my side however, and during the first night there was a park up of the whole fleet at Ile de Yeu. I was now back in the pack and by now I had gotten over the disappointment of before and so was just keen to attack for as long as I could, to see how well I could do and to use the race as the best training I could.

Over the next 24 hours I probably sailed the best I have ever done in the Figaro. I was able to pass boats throughout the day and kept working my way up the fleet to just outside the top 10, and at my peak, just inside it. As night fell on the second night however I was starting to get really tired, as we rounded the most southern mark and started to head north the wind also started to fill in which I knew wasn’t good for me! By now I had been driving for 30 hours and knew the inevitable was about to happen soon, and that it was going to be enjoyable when it did!

Bernard Gergaud

After going under the bridge at Ile de Re in 12th we beat our way 30 nautical miles back to Les Sables d’Olonne. The first few hours went well, but as night descending the job got a whole lot harder. Fog descended too which hid the lights of the boats in front of me, which with no GPS was very disorientating to say the least! The emergency pilot was no use at all either as upwind in the short waves we had it just couldn’t do the job required. I used it initially but gave up after the 2nd crash tack and the first 90 degree bear away and almost gybe! So stacking all the equipment from side to side took considerably longer with lots of running back on deck to steer and slowly but surely I started losing touch with the main pack, which after all the work of the past 24 hours was very depressing and a killer for the motivation knowing that it was only going to get worse. The inevitable was happening and I was crashing out hard!

I lost around a net of 5 places up the beat after taking back a few from guys who went the wrong way, rounding bow to stern with 4 boats so was definitely still in touch on the last lap round Ile de Yeu from Les Sables entrance. I was completely exhausted though, and I found it impossible to concentrate while driving anymore. I started to loose all motivation for the race. With no GPS or AIS either I just tried to follow lights and not loose too much ground. Boats were just sailing passed me however, and the worst thing was I no longer cared. Mentally I had given up on the race and it was just all about finishing from here on in. The night of the 14th March 2014 will always be a very dark memory for me!

Bernard Gergaud

As we approached Ile de Yeu I worked hard to stay in touch with the pack of boats which had just sailed past me as rounding an Island in the middle of the night is a pretty scary experience not knowing where you are! I was most kicking myself for not having invested in a new iPad after my old iPad 1 became out dated with the new chart technology, GRR! I was plotting my position using my handheld GPS into Adrena though and after managing to get my kite on the bow and hoisted I set about following the other lights back to Les Sables and the finish. I put the emergency pilot on quickly to just do one last check of my position. As the waypoint appeared on Adrena showing exactly where I was my heart stopped. It was showing me literally 100m off the rocks off the southern most tip of Ile de Yeu. I sprinted on deck, threw the pilot off the tiller and gybed the boat as fast as I could. I could now hear the waves crashing on the rocks and the thought of how close I came to totaling the boat is a scary one.

Going from Left to Right, how close I got to Ile de Yeu without even realising!

Going from Left to Right, how close I got to Ile de Yeu without even realising!

So the race wasn’t the result that I was looking for, but it was a productive training race and there are lots of positives to take from it. I did some good sailing against some of the best Figaroists for over 24 hours and also managed to get around the course when it seemed everything was against me so I am pretty happy on reflection. Now I just want to get the boat as reliable as possible, I most definitely don’t want the same to be happening during the Solitaire this year.

Thanks for all your messages of support.

H

Henry on TV – Seamaster Sailing

Seamaster sailing, perhaps the biggest and best sailing TV programme in the world (?!) has done a lovely 12 minute piece telling the story of the Brits in La Solitaire du Figaro last year. You can check it out on 26 channels worldwide and on Sky Sports in the UK throughout January apparently, but for those who cannot wait, you can watch online here:

Meanwhile life in Port la Foret is going well. The first on the water training starts next week which is going to be great. I will be sailing double handed with Yoann Richomme, the new Skipper Macif 2014, on board his old boat DLBC, no.16, until I get myself up and running properly. Cannot wait to be back out on those ocean waves – planet earth, feel free to warm up anytime you like over the next week.

H

Plymouth stopover for La Solitaire du Figaro 2014!

As we start a new year it is always exciting to look ahead at what’s to come, and 2014 is shaping up to be an absolute belter with the recent announcement that ‘La Solitaire du Figaro’, an event which has quite literally taken over the last 3 years of my life, is coming to Plymouth.

When I was at school I used to race in Plymouth every weekend during the winter, initially crewing a J80, then racing my Laser and then eventually we used it as a winter training for our J80 youth team ‘Team Baltic’ before going off and competing in international regattas in the summer.

Rockfish, my main sponsor last year, also has it’s biggest restaurant here right on Sutton Harbour where the boats will be moored between the 10th to the 15th June. After the Rolex Fastnet race this year both Rockfish and I received a huge amount of local support which was absolutely amazing and I am sure we can expect the same thing again next summer. 30,000 people are expected to descend on the Barbican and the race village in Plymouth to look at the boats and listen to the live music, it really is going to be a party atmosphere, which unfortunately for us sailors we will not be able to partake in! For us salty dogs, it will simply be a case of getting as much sleep, food and recovery in as possible before Leg 2 starts on Sunday 15th June 2014, with over 500 nautical miles of racing from Plymouth to Roscoff via Fastnet Rock off Ireland.

La Solitaire du Figaro 2014 Course

It is the first time since 2004 that the race has come to the UK and the first time ever Plymouth has hosted a stopover. Hopefully having the race come so close to home I will be able to swing some home advantage my way like our Olympians did back in London all that time ago now.

At the moment I am currently in the process of speaking to all my old sponsors as well as chatting up new ones where possible. I am delighted to say that this is going very well. Of my family of sponsors from 2013, five are signed up and are coming back next year, (announcements will be made soon!) and there are currently two new sponsors coming along for the ride in 2014 too.

The fact the race is coming to Plymouth, is definitely a big plus for my sponsors so hopefully funding will come easier this year than last year, where I found the money to buy new sails just two weeks before the start! I am over half way to completing my 50,000 budget for next year, so still lots of work to do and still a Title Sponsor to find but progress so far has been very encouraging, as well as humbling too with the amount of support and passion towards my campaign that I have received.

The big move back to France will happen on the 5th January, where it will be all go towards La Solitaire du Figaro 2014 which starts just 5 months later. I am itching to get back into it. Back to speaking non stop Franglais once more, moving back into our lovely gite and getting back into full time training again with a 100% focus on all things Figaro. I was fortunate enough to be accepted back into Port la Foret for 2014 which is absolutely fantastic, I feel really lucky to have the opportunity again to work alongside the Frenchies who are the undeniable experts in the shorthanded offshore racing game I play. Nelson I am sure would never have approved of such a close coalition, but I will be living and training with fellow Englishman and South West Figarist Sam Goodchild, so I should be able to keep a bit of my sanity and not turn completely frog this winter.

Check out the promo video to La Solitaire 2014 here – http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x185i0u_lancement-de-la-45e-edition_sport

Happy New Year to you all and here’s to a great 2014!

Big love,

H

Rolex Fastnet Race 2013

The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the most prestigious races on the calendar and one pretty much every sailor hopes to take part in one day. After gaining a fearsome reputation in 1979 when 18 people lost their lives, the course has to be treated with lots of respect. Saying that, I felt lucky to be able to be taking part in my second Fastnet Race last week, once again sailing double handed on a Figaro with Richard Tolkien.

The first part of the race was very tactical, with similar boat speeds among the front end of the fleet. With 15-20kts of breeze and flat water, it became a real game of chess. Nobody wanted to get too far away from one another, and with tidal gates and lots of highly predictable shifts coming our way it all became about positioning yourself well among your rivals and getting the timing right.

1150291_616966981682087_569043866_n (1)

Richard and Henry on board RockFish during the Rolex Fastnet 2013

By the time we reached the infamous Fastnet Rock at around midnight on Monday we were still in touch with the leading pack, rounding the Rock around 30 minutes behind the first Figaro. By Panatenius Buoy, just 5 miles south west of the Rock, we were up to 4th place and in a good position to hunt down the leaders. Unfortunately however we made the decision to drop the spinnaker too early in the close reach back to the Scilly Islands and ended up loosing big mileage on the leaders during the night. When morning broke, the damage was deep having lost 2 places over night. We rounded Bishops Rock 2.2 miles behind Nick Cherry on Magma Structures and managed to hunt them down in home waters as best we could. They did a great job of using up their lead to keep between us and the finish, so while it was close, we finished just 50 seconds behind them, it wasn’t close enough.

933969_616897721689013_119314470_n

With it being the home race for my sponsors RockFish, with the race finishing in Plymouth and still lots of promotion going on around the opening of their new restaurant in Sutton Harbour just a few weeks ago, there was a huge amount of media interviews to do on the day of finishing. We crossed the line at 0610 on Thursday morning, 1hr 20 behind the leader. Other than a quick lunch at RockFish in the afternoon it was non-stop interviews until 1900 that evening, which after very little sleep was quite hard work to stay enthusiastic throughout! That night I slept a solid 14hrs from 2200 to 1200 the next day!

Untitled

Henry on BBC Spotlight with Sam Matson, Robin Elsey and Sam Goodchild

You can watch one of the BBC Spotlight pieces that went out that evening by clicking here.

Next up is Dartmouth Regatta, my last event in RockFish before I take her back to France as my charter for the season comes to an end. I will be sailing with friends and sponsors and am looking forward to an enjoyable last hurrah after a great season! Off the water the attention has already started shifting onto next season, with work going on to try and be on the start line of both the Solitaire du Figaro and the Route du Rhum 2014 if possible!

Bye for now,

H