Wednesday, 29 June 2011
As I passed the last mark of the race and headed for the finish line the wind was peaking at 20 kts. I hardened up the sails and pointed straight to the mark, the rigging creaked as the boat heeled over. We crossed the bay at 7kts upwind and finally the finish line was not only within sight but within reach too.
My fist long distance solo race, the first time in an ocean alone in a boat and the first time I had put up with my own company for a whole week and it was over!
I crossed the line to be 1st overall 'solo' boat 3rd overall including the 2 handed boats (on corrected time). The icing on the cake was be told that I have smashed the solo race record by over 50 hours ! To say I am
Happy with the result would be somewhat of an understatement!!
As I approached the finished line Dad was in a Rib to congratulate me, as he was in Ponta Delgada. He helped me rebuild the back end of the boat in the Azores and has been a great support all the way on both legs, he is the reason that I am able to sail and I am very very grateful to him!
Richard was the perfect co-skipper on the way down. Not only could I trust him to look after me and the boat on the way there his attitude towards work was never anything but 100% positive taking more than his share of watches and giving me great advice when needed. He even brought a comfort element to yacht racing which was a new experience- and one that I rather like! It is a shame that the computer failed in the outbound leg, as there was as many many if not more adventures in that leg as the leg home.
Now I have the small job of making a list of things to fix on the boat, before off solo this afternoon for the 30 hour hop to Portsmouth and home! sorting through all the video footage and trying to make something worth watching out of it! Thankyou to everyone that has melt a eye in the blog this week. Knowing people have been reading the blog makes it that much
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
I was aware that when I got close the TSS (shipping separation lanes) I would need to have my wits about me, However I thought it would be to manoeuvre around large vessels entering or exiting the western channel with holds full of cheap Chinese goods. What I ended up doing was spending the night dancing with fishing vessels! (in the world afloat most things give way to sailing boats when offshore, but everything gives way to fishing boats). These large vessels fish in random circles, normally centred around the approaching sailing yachts correct course and then when you have successfully avoided their ships and nets they turn back for another go. It becomes a bit of of a game, imagine allowing a 10 year old loose with a shopping trolley in a car park, giving him full rights to do as much damage with his trolley to cars as he likes, then re route the main high street and all the proud adults in there expensive cars thorough the middle of that car park. Oh and add some large lorries on each side of the cars and then of course make them stay awake for a week before the challenge. Sounds like fun hey!!
I have kept moving well over night and am pointing in the right direction with good boatspeed, unfortunately the tide is pointing the other way and is robbing about a kt off my speed over the ground. It has made my aim of a sub 7 day race slip away and also leaves me in the position of knowing the gap behind me is closing all the time. On this leg, all being well I have held off Steve in 'Truant' but as he had finished 5 hours ahead of us in Ponta Delgada I think he will still have enough 'time in the bag' to secure a 3rd in class (corrected) for both legs combined. Having said that as he raced Solo both ways and beat us on the water there having lost his power and had to hand steer for the last 4 days I think it is a very fair victory for him.
Looing forward to a beer now. I'll have Georges too as he doesn't drink!
Monday, 27 June 2011
The wind out here tonight is far greater than the forecast. I am seeing 22 kts across the deck and at this angle that is making for some pretty wind conditions on deck. For the last few hours there has been a buffet that can be felt through out the hull which I would occasionally try to eliminate by tweaking things on deck, so far to avail so as I cant seem to stop it I decided it was time to tension up the rig as best I could. that of course means foredeck work which is the last place I really wanted to go! Having got togged up for it and got on the foredeck the first wave to land on my head was not very welcome but never mind, i can cope. Due to the length of time spent up there by the 3rd or 4th bucket of cold north Atlantic water to hurled at my face it didn't feel much like June!
Approaching the shipping channels to the south of the isles of Scilly now so far only 1 fishing boat doing a 180 turn in front of me to keep[me on my toes, I think it gave the container ship on my right a fright though, never seen a ship that size manage a turn radius quite like that before!
After a full 20 minutes sleep I decided to brave the elements and go and steer for a while, as i climbed into the cockpit i got another wave on the head, i thought again about my plan and decided to make a few tweaks to the set up and head back down. If I have learned one thing this week it is know when to push and when to chill. I think getting wet and cold for what may well only be 1/3rd of a kt better boatspeed may be false economy, at least that what i told myself.
As the day has progressed the wind ha stuck around at about 17-20kts giving some good reaching conditions and decent boatspeed in the right direction for minimum effort, which is always satisfying.
As the main aim of this race was to get some serious solo miles under my belt and qualify me for the OSTAR it has been a great surprise to be up with the big boys. It it hard for me to get the whole picture (as I am on a boat in the ocean and not on the computer!) exactly how the field lies but as understand it I am currently in 3rd place overall corrected time (for non sailors each boat has a handicap rating so that it doesn't just become about buying simply buying a faster boat. your actual elapsed time is then times by the handicap factor to work out the corrected time), and as the 2 leading boats are both 2 handed I think that puts me as first solo. However i wont think about that until i have crossed the finish line! It has also come to my attention that at my current eta I will break the '40ft and under solo fixed ballast' record by over 24 hours! The current record has stood since 1999! I know to non sailors that sounds like a sub division of a sub division of a sub division but to me that is pretty big! I have thumbed through the race magazine and that looks correct however there is the slight matter of getting to the finish line, which is still over 14hrs away hours, and a few shipping lanes away. There is also one other reason I have found to push it and that is that if i can do it in a little over 14 hours I may crack 7 days, although that is a tall order! There is also of course the slight possibility that having been awake so long I am complete delusional and none of the above is true at all.
Its about dinner time now so i think i will boil the kettle and prepare some more freeze dried food. Yummm!!