With the completion of my second event I am making the most of some well-deserved time off after some absolutely manic weeks. I have completed my second solo Figaro race and over the last 2 weeks have sailed over 700 solo miles, doing things that 6 months ago I would have thought impossible. The Solo Maître Coq is a truly testing event with a combination of tight inshore racing followed by a tighter offshore race.
The boat was in a pretty good condition going into the first races but unfortunately I was not, after managing to avoid and beat away the squad illnesses throughout the winter I developed my own personal super virus that took me down hard. I spent as much time as I could in bed during the build-up resting but it seriously felt like my brain was working at half speed with a gap between thinking something and actually doing it. I didn’t expect much sympathy with my main racing excuse being man flu. I had also piled on all the pressure and expectation I could find combined with an unhealthy need to succeed, when things didn’t go my way I absolutely cracked.
After a poor performance in the first race the pressure mounted to get a good result from the second race, I had sailed into a nice position after a poor start but at a leeward mark I attempted a tight and risky racing move to get past another boat. I tried to turn my 10m yacht on a dime, which obviously wouldn’t work and instead of accelerating out of the mark I drifted sideways into an understandably pissed off Alan Roberts. After taking my penalty I got stuck below the fleet and in my own head and so finished the race poorly. I was at a very low point as I tied up at the dock as I went over every mistake in my head and every position lost.
The second day was only slightly better in results but I had moments of sailing brilliance, these however where shortly followed by something disastrous. I was racing in a respectable 8th place and as it got tight at the final mark I once again bit off more than I could chew, I turned my boat to avoid another Brit, Hammy Baker, to go behind him and flip into a tack. As I went through the movements I had made a terrible mistake in the closing speed of the two boats and smashed my bow forcibly into the side of his boat. I lost 4 places as I span my boat for the 360 degree penalty with an audible stream of cursing at my own stupidity. Unlike the day before I composed myself to re-overtake 2 boats on the final leg to cross the line in a more respectable 11th.
A gusty 15-25knots blew off the land for the final inshore race, I made the effort to be more aggressive for this start, but found myself next to the ever feisty Mary Rook and together we started too early. So having broken another rule, I followed Mary back to the start line to cross again, while the rest of the fleet raced on. The drama didn’t stop there, as I sailed on the downwind section my pilot decided that I had fallen over board, this triggers a range of safety procedures including taking control of the steering and setting off some very loud alarms. It was absolute mayhem as I tried to wrestle the boat back into my control, get the kite down and stop the alarms that shrieked at me violently. The result for this race was not fantastic either.
Organised mayhem is how I would describe 24 yachts racing around short courses being “controlled” by one person but man it’s a lot of fun and addictive as I really wanted to do it again during the following rest day. Instead I had to prepare for the 330 mile offshore race around 3 islands over 2 days. A race that deserves its own write up.