Chris returned to France a few days before the mini Fastnet, a two handed race from Douarnenez, around the Scilly Isle, Fastnet Rock and back to France. He had been in NZ for two weeks for the launch of the book "Oceans Alone".
Hi, got back to find the boat safe and sound. All I had to do was tune the rig, clean the bottom and sort gear. Of course there were the pre race checks as well but no problems.
The start of the Fastnet was delayed for an hour due to light winds but they got us going at 15hr in a good 10 to 15knots. We had a very bad start and were in the bottom third of the fleet at the first mark after a 2Nm beat.
By the second mark rounding after a tight spi ride and some 2 sail reaching we had made it to the top third of the fleet. It was then a tight lay out through the Chenal du Four and by the time we were clear of the Les Platresses and on our way to Wolf Rock (off Lands End) we were in the top ten.
All that first night was light airs up wind with boats all around, great sailing! The morning found us in fog and by midday we were on our own. To avoid the tide we sailed very close to Lands End and were around Wolf Rock before dark, but it took us some time to get clear of Steven Stone due to lack of wind, lumpy seas and the tide.
The next morning we had the Figero support boat for company and we beat to windward for Fastnet. It proved to be a good time to test the waterballast tank which I haven't been using. We were fully powered up, sometimes reefed, in a lumpy seastate. The results seemed to be promising and we kept it full for the rest of the way to Fastnet.
We rounded Fastnet in first place with 151 and 198 close behind. The next 12 hours were some of the best sailing I have ever had. Perfect seastate, wind pressure and angle and we were averaging over 10 knots. But we kept running out of wind and the boats behind would catch up bring the breeze with them. After dark 151 went left and the next time we saw them they were far ahead in the Bay of Douarnenez.
The final day of the race was in light shifty running conditions. Very close racing and after a poor night we sailed quite well but the damage had been done. Very disappointing especially when we had good boat speed on the others.
So third, again! Behind the 2 boats that were ahead of us at the end of the mini, 151 and 260. Not to unhappy, nice to do okay in such a famous race. And it was great sailing with JB. Good insight to the French way of doing things and some very useful tips on sail development, which will be important if we are to go on and challenge for the mini again.
Off to Lorient this weekend for the Demi-Cle that starts on the 11th.
Photo Credit: Gildas HEMON ~ Gallery: Mini Fastnet: Chris & NZL403