So the guy’s have now been racing a full week in the AG2R and as I type they are just rounding the only mark of the course, La Palma to starboard, having a great race in 8th place and still in touch with the leading pack. Still all to play for from here.
Back in Lorient I have been working on making sure my boat is ready for the next race on the calendar, the Solo Concarneau starting on the 10th May. After the collision there has been non-stop work on 37 the last few weeks to ensure she is going to be ready on time. I have been assured a launch date of next Friday is a safe bet, so fingers crossed everything works out.
While the builders are working on the hull, Simon (our French preparateur) and I have been working on the mast, boom and spinnaker pole. We completely took apart the rig after the collision to check for any damage, cracks, wear etc and luckily found no real problems other than the top spreader roots which needed replacing. I have also been able to sort out my ‘stiff’ outhaul problem as well as put in an improved reefing solution than I had before. My all new look spinnaker pole has had a mini make-over too which I am excited to get out and try.
It has been the first time that I have been able to spend a week on just sorting my boat out since I started in the Academy in November last year. Since then it has been non-stop sailing with only the odd day or weekend to carry out any boat jobs, never enough time to sit and do everything properly, so this past week has been highly productive in getting 37 exactly how I want her!
For the last few weeks the main focus in the team has been the start of the AG2R with Sam and Nick, the 3,900nm double-handed transatlantic race, starting from Concarneau where we are based and finishing in St Barts in the Caribbean, leaving La Palma in the Canaries to starboard along the way.
I have been training out of Lorient for the last 2 weeks but found myself going down to the race village whenever possible to soak up the building atmosphere as the days counted down to their departure. Come start day the race village was rammed packed, with spectators trying to get a glimpse of the skippers before they headed off across the Atlantic. One final weather briefing and then they were off, to booming music and cheers from the crowd.
I was out on the water in Artemis 43 with the camera crew to help catch some of the action and get specific shots of Artemis 23 to go alongside the heli shoots that would be provided. It was amazing to see so many spectator craft out on the water, all tussling for the best position, everyone wanted to get closer to the action. Fighting to get close enough but not too close in an unmaneuverable Figaro compared to the little rib’s tearing around proved quite tricky, but we just about got the shots we needed.
As the guys sailed off into the distance I found it hard motoring back into port, I wanted so badly to be a part of this race and the amazing spectacle and I hope one day I will get the chance. Right now however we have another weeks training out of Concarneau with our English coach Mike Hart. Then I will be helping finishing off the refit of Artemis 37 before she goes back in the water early May in preparation for our next race, the Solo Concarneau starting on the 10th May.
Here’s a quick little video I made during training today.
In other news, 37 is slowly being brought back to life, I went down to the shed to see her after sailing today and she now has a balsa core and just needs an outer coat, a few stickers, bit of antifoul in a few areas and she will be ready to roll. In the mean time, with a full week of training planned for next week, I will continue to train on Ollie’s boat until she is back on the water.
Team Photo in our new Zhik gear
Sitting in the deserted crew house, (yes I have the whole house to myself woo hoo!) eating my way through a mound of Fajitas (serves 4) it’s time to reflect on my little excursion away from the Figaro and single handed sailing and my ever so quick foray back into fully crewed sports boat racing.
Spi Ouest saw 118 other J80 team’s come to do battle on what was by far the most competitive fleet of France’s Cowes Week equivalent. For Team Baltic it was our first event with THE crew, Ryan Gerrish (trim), Henry Bagnall (tactics) and Ashley Bower (bow), which will compete in the J80 World Championships being held in our home port of Dartmouth later this year. With a local sponsor in Baltic Wharf Boatyard, a local boat and with local sailors all originating from the area, all under the age of 25, it’s a pretty cool programme to be involved in.
Repairs well underway for Ar…mis 37
A few mishaps early in the week, including kite halyards failing and ‘that black flag’ put pay to us getting a top result, but as a ‘training regatta’ goes it went very well. We tried out our new sails which require a slightly different, straighter rig, set up and seemed fast throughout the week, finishing up 20th out of 118 boats.
It appears I wasn’t the only ‘Figaroer’ indulging in extracurricular activities at Spi Ouest as I bumped into numerous guys on the dock and around the town. In fact 4 other Figaro’s skippers were also skippering in the J80 fleet as well which was good fun and made me feel like, just maybe, this was good training for a Solitaire after all…
Popping by the yard in Lorient today on my way back to the crew house, work is well underway on Artemis 37, she’s looking in a bit of a bad state bless her but she is in good hands and will be back out on the water soon. In the mean time I am training on Ollie’s boat 43 while he is away. Nick and Sam arrive back later this week as the final build up to their epic double handed Transat gets underway, peace and quite at Artemis HQ couldn’t last for ever!