Is your first time ever good??

 

23

It’s been about a week but I think I am ready to write about my experiences during my first ever competitive solo offshore race. Not only the first solo race but also the longest I have spent out at sea and the furthest distance covered in one voyage, 340 miles over 2 days, both records to be broken later this year. Stress and nerve levels had been high during the lead up with so much to get organised and a relatively untested boat to prepare, it was never going to be a smooth ride.

Getting off the dock and sailing was a struggle in its self, the scrutinising and French protocol seemed endless. It became apparent that the sailors had gone to some lengths to cheat in the past. I must have given off a dodgy look as I was chosen for a closer examination along with the weighing of all my kit, a limit I was about 2 apples under. Full Race mode could be engaged after a security seal was placed around my prop to prevent any cheeky motoring time, it was all wind power from then on.

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“The fickle wind seemed to avoid me”

I was heavily punished for small mistakes during the first 6 hours of the race as the fickle winds seemed to avoid me or take me in the wrong direction. I tried so hard to get back into the race but I was just clinging on. Like losing the slip stream in a cycling race I got dropped, and I wondered how much deeper I could dig to find my speed again. I spent too much time sailing on my own, the wind had carried the pack far ahead and the race became a test of how strong I was psychologically. A tricky test when the temperature plummeted in the night and the sea fired icy waves into my face at every opportunity.

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These guys really helped cheer me up

Using the power of hindsight it was impossible to visualise a race with so many new experiences, enduring for 48 hours while things go wrong and break all around you became an exhausting fight. The race as a whole has however done wonders for me; I am stronger in every area of my sailing. As a result, 17th out of 23 isn’t a complete disaster, but it is far from the goal I have set myself this year. Although it’s a slow start I can feel my momentum for this season seriously increasing.

HB_R

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