Solo Basse Normandie – A challenging race with solid performances
– It was a challenging race. More hours of darkness than daylight, freezing cold, wet, bad visibility rounding Jersey at 0300 in the morning and short 20nm legs that meant little to no chance of any sleep. (I managed two 10 minute naps in the 30 hour race.)
I got a good start off the pin end, and then as we peeled off managed to tack and get a good lane, crossing the majority of the fleet. Here we dragged race to the first mark of the course some 50nm away.
Speed initially wasn’t great. I adjusted my rig after trying a setting which had previously worked in similar conditions but didn’t appear to be doing me any favours here, it felt all wrong and after the change, my speed was back.
Note added to my endless document of ‘Figaro tricks’.
We then had a VMG run under the kite. I slowly leaked places here, which was frustrating. I tried jib up and lost more, and tried cleaning my keel numerous times for weed, but nothing seemed to work. The loss wasn’t drastic, but was definitely there, and so as a last resort I broached the boat twice to be absolutely sure nothing was on the keel.
It seemed to do the trick, even if mentally, and for the last 4nm I stayed with Isabelle and Jack who had passed me on the run. Another note added, do this much earlier, especially at night when you can’t see the keel to check it…
Next up were the fun times. A 130-140 tight kite reach in 22-28kts. It is (now) a particularly strong point for me and I managed to overtake both Isa and Jack and put some distance on them both as well as change my jib for the smaller one, and crucially get back in touch with the leaders once more. As we then started to bash our way upwind in 22-26kts,
I was now back in touch again with Nick, Gwenole and the back of the lead back. I drove all night, and worked my *** off to just keep the boat going. I had good height and every time I went to check the AIS I was making small gains, which was hugely motivating, especially coupled with the harsh-ish living conditions we had on board. A tack inshore towards Jersey gave me the cross on Nick and Gwenole and as the sun finally rose, we reached towards St Malo neck and neck. Nick under Genoa got back in front as I changed from Solent back to Genoa, (another note added). After two hours tight reaching, Nick rounded the mark off St Malo 55 seconds in front of me. (Yes I counted, previous notes from ‘Figaro tricks doc’ told me chasing better delta’s are good sources of motivation to grind down opponents.)
By the end of the 18nm VMG run, I was just a few boat lengths behind Nick, pace under kite VMG seemingly restored. Sitting in ninth place now, all that remained was a simple 18nm windward leeward, but simple it didn’t turn out to be.
A cloud came over, which gave a 40 deg right shift and then a 50 deg lefty which I got completely wrong and ended up losing four places in the meantime. It was a harsh lesson in fleet management. My tacks were perhaps a minute late for the first shift and three minutes early for the second but it was game over, it shocked me how quickly you can lose distance upwind, and having made such great gains upwind during the night, it was hugely frustrating. (More notes added…)
All in all however it was a solid performance I feel and a good one to start the season off with. A top 10 would have been nice, but now I am even more motivated for the next one. The boat speed still has many areas of improvement needed for sure, but progress has definitely been made. Bring on training next week and the Solo Maitre Coq in a few weeks time, the first official race on the Figaro Circuit for 2015 which counts towards your overall ranking at the end of the year.
more info (FR) …….solo-bassenormandie.fr
by by Henry Bomby