After a less than ideal start to my Figaro career in Les Sables, I was keen to put in a performance that I was happy with.
I got off to a good start rounding the first mark in 6th, and settled into around 10th in the few hours after the start. As we passed through the infamous Raz de Sein, with a full 4 knots of tide against I managed to keep with the leading pack as we scooted up the inside next to the lighthouse, precariously close, I could have touched it…
As morning came on the next day I started to sail with a lot more confidence, rather than looking back at who could over take me, I trusted I now had the pace to be with the bunch and started looking for tactical options for where to overtake and position myself on the fleet for the next ‘event’ or change in the wind, tide, course etc.
As we rounded Brivideaux I had managed to work my way to the front of our little group and was getting prepared for the upcoming ‘narm off’ with 25/30 knots close reaching with the kite. Unfortunately I had a mix up with my spi, having to re hoist 3 times before I finally started surfing along with the rest of the fleet in the pitch black at 13-15 knots. Unfortunately doing just 9-11 knots for the half an hour I was sorting myself out while they were doing 13-15 meant everyone just sailed away from me and was now over 2 miles up the road.
As we rounded Yeu none of us were laying it and so needed to get our kites down and reach to the east of the Island to leave it to starboard. The waves were massively confused and its probably the most scared I have been on a boat as I skated around on the bow trying to change my big jib for the small one while under pilot surfing towards the Ile de Yeu in the now building breeze, with just 2 miles till I hit.
Scared potentially is the wrong word, because I remember smiling and thinking, wow this sport is amazing, here I am hurtling along in the pitch black pushing as hard as I can for the smallest gains, exhilarating is maybe a better word! Wow! I will remember that rounding of Yeu for a long time…
17.6 knots top speed is no small feat in the ‘caravan’ of the offshore sailing world, unfortunately while 30 knots downwind with a kite is good fun, the subsequent upwind is the complete opposite. A 90 mile beat back to Concarneau was now on the cards and while the downwind was ‘fresh verging on frightening’ as Aaron would say, the upwind was definitely ‘hideous verging on heinous’.
I kept pushing hard though and when the relief of morning broke on the second day I had managed to get back in touch with the bunch, I had a close finish with David Sineau, who I managed to get ahead of in the final beat to the finish, but then lose again in the last cross coming into the line, doh!
Finishing 14th of 23 and 3rd rookie is an okay result, and to know how many mistakes I made and how much better I can do is massively encouraging, bring on the next race on the circuit, Transmanche! A race from L’Aberwrach on north coast Brittany, round Eddystone lighthouse, Plymouth, and then back again, starting in just 2 weeks time. Sailing round Eddystone is going to be the closest I have been to home for a long time I think, so close but yet so near!