UK-Fastnet, 500nm+, 0-35kn 70% upwind, first series home!
Already before the race the weatherforecast was predicting a difficult race, lots of weather transitions to manage and 30h of upwind in 25-35kn in the first two days. Well i guess this is the price we had to pay for the 110nm downwind run in the last race.
On Sunday the race started with a little inshore parcours which was quite hectic. The fleet was quite close together and a too close call on a layline got us in a bit of trouble which finished with us having to do a 360 for touching the windward mark.
In the leading pack we were beating up to the first racemark, Eddystone Rock. Hafter having tacked up the english coast towards the west the wind slowly started to build, everyone knew we were in for a wet ridfor 30h in steep channel waves around the isles of scilly and through the irish sea. Our first Mistake on this upwind was that we didn’t protect the righthand side of the racecourse around the scillys for the first transition, then as the wind turned right we found oure self with a few boats to the right of us which passed in front afther that. Once the front hit the rock and roll started 25, 27, 28, 30 with gusts in the higher 30thies, also the seastate got a lot worse as time passed. Under 2nd reef in solent and main we found a good trim and a good compromise between speed and height, which made us gain a few places back. It was very wet sailing, Nils changed his not quite fully waterproof oilies against the TPS afther the first houres in strong breeze.
On tuesday as things started to settle down a bit, we weren’t paying enough attention to the next transition ahead, in a weatherforecast we just about managed to pick up on the VHF. We must have miss understood something in this forecast then we were waiting for the wind to turn towards the south, shurely as we were the most southerly boat the wind started to turn right towards the north, once again on the wrong side of the fleet! Having lost a lot of places and distance to the leaders we rounded the Fastnetrock in daylight with a very light breeze. To our releif the guys in the front were suck a bit in a wind whole just after the Fastnet. Having closed the gap to the leaders a bit again and beeing back in the pack able to see other boats was good for the moral. All the way up the english coast we had a breeze turning slowly back towards west, under big kite we were batteling with an Loic and Thierry an other Swiss mini and Ian on Kalonig which i was already batteling with in the Pornichet select. We lost a bit of distance on these two Pogos on the downwind run.
Arriving at cuningbeg funny enough we were in for an other upwind! In a medium brezze we manage to steadyly close the gab between 697 and us. A few hores later we were side by side with 697 and 539. The wind started to take a bit of left and was picking up to 20-25kn so close to the range of the gennacker, two trys one of us and an other of ian proofed though that the angle was still to high to hold the gennacker. A few houres later finally under gennacker very powered up and with a mainsail mostly fully flapping it was all on! Charging towards landsend with 10 to 14kn, a real pleasure after so much beating upwind! It got a bit more intense approaching landsend, then the direct route passed in a gab in between a couple of rocks and the shore. At night at 12kn with limited visibility this was the moment where we fully had to rely on our waypoints then there was no way to get a chart out to do classic navigation then all the weight was needed on the back upwind corner of the boat!
Rounding lands end we saw the first time for a few days Teamwork 824 the leaders in the series on the AIS just 3 miled ahead. We discussed a lot of different options for the next upwind towards the finish. At the same time once again we had to manage 25-30kn upwind! All soaked again we went towards the coast on a first tack to find fafourable tide colser to the shore. With a weatherforecast we picked up on the radio which was announcing a complet change of winddirections there was a lot of headscratching going on on the boat trying to figure out what the best tactick for this last bit of the race would be. We spoke to looping on 697 and found that we were quite a bit north of the fleet, with a wind changing from east north east to south west announced we figured it woud be safer to try and get more to the right of the fleet. We tacked back out in to the english channel. With 35nm to go we found our selfs about 15 to 20 degrees underneath the layline for plymouth the wind started to drop slowly and we decidet to tack back. Steering about 15 degrees under the bearing of plymouth the wind dropped further and started to take right, we could open our sails a bit and sail straight on the layline. We were quite concerned that we might have tacked a bit late and have gone to far out in to the channel as the wind turned even more right, we ended up under gennacker in a dying breeze. A few minutes after we found our selfs drifting with flappy sails hoping that the rest of the fleet took the same windhole. Finally after a few stressful moments not moving the wind came in from the south west quite light but steady, first under gennacker than under big kite we passed eddystone and then we saw Teamwork again inshore of us but behind. We didn’t have to gybe once to pass the breakwater on the entrance of plymouth. We crossed the finishline in front of the Royal Western Sailing Club 17minutes infront of Teamwork an other Swiss mini. Apparently the racecommite didn’t expect us at all then our tracker stopped working going along the coast of ireland.
Verry happy about the result which we celebrated!
Thanks to Nils for taking his time to sail the two last races with me it was very cool to sail with him, hoping to see him with his own mini on a race some time in the future!
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