So myself and Conrad Manning finished the 600 mile Fastnet race 2 days ago, since then its been alot of sleep and boatwork! It was the first time i had competed in the race and by far my longest offshore, spending 4 nights at sea.
There was a five boat Figaro fleet competing, three of which had experienced Solitaire skippers onboard meaning we had alot of work to do to beat them. A forecast for light winds for the first few days followed by strong winds meant it was going to be a tricky race.
We began on sunday noon with barely a knot of breeze but a strong tide pushing us out the needles channel. We had a small lead by the time we reached poole bay, now with a 12 knot seabreeze when the first learning experience of the race happened! Our main halyard shackle decided it would come undone and this point resulting in our mainsail suddenly falling down and loosing the main halyard in the mast. The race had taken a complete turn for us from leading to considering if we may have to retire altogether. We spent 3-4 sketchy hours at the top of the rig trying to retie a makeshift fixing for the mainsail all while still trying to not loose too much on the other figaros. Eventually, the mainsail was back up but at a cost of 5 miles on the fleet. Checking our halyards properly is a mistake we will sure never to make again!
Luckily for us, the wind was forecast to shut down that night basically meaning a restart for the race. Over the next day we brought ourselves back up to a mile behind the last 2 boats. Now well past lands end and into the Celtic sea, the light winds were steadily replace by a strong southwesterly and torrential rain. We managed to hoist our spinnaker first and blast reach past Artemis 23 and 37 putting us in thirst place around Fastnet rock. Maybe the fact we no longer could reef our mainsail aided this!
The breeze then veered round to a westerly meaning a straightline blast reach to lands end with little opportunity for gaining more places. We rounded lands end with 4 mile ahead and behind to each boat. A fogy downwind saw us hold onto this positon for the remainder of the race.
We held onto 3rd place right to the finish in plymouth where we had to climb up the rig again to cut down a mainsail. Overall we were happy with this result given the circumstances on the first day. it was great to finally race against a few other figaros 2 and it really does make you realise how close all the racing is in a one design class. Videos from the race to follow but a short holiday first!