Solo Master Cockerel Part 2: Offshore
A so called “rest” day followed the 2 days of intense inshore races that where challenging on the boat, body and mind but would have to be put to one side for the next 330 miles of racing forecasted to last over 48 hours. Proper planning and preparation to prevent another piss poor performance was the top goal before the start gun and fortunately I had most things under control which was a delight as I cruised out to the start line.
The forecast predicted a very light breeze for the first 12 hours and had us sailing into a large amount of tide resulting in some difficult and potentially race ending tactics. Fortunately the wind blew much harder than forecast and we were able to race a lot faster, the fleet tacked upwind towards our first turning mark under the bridge that connects La Rochelle and Île de Ré. With good boat speed and genius tactics I enjoyed sailing at the front of the fleet for hours, the odd mistake prevented me battling for first place but I was very happy to be within in the top five.
It took a while to realise that only 5 boats made it round Île de Ré without being completely becalmed and so I spent the first night in fourth position. And I spent much of the next day bobbing about in fourth as well trying to give myself a nice buffer from the other boats. However as we turned south for 75 miles of fun in the surf my speed just wasn’t on par with a chasing pack of experienced boats. These where the guys who were fighting for the overall lead of the event, not that it affected me overall, I hated the fact they had caught me and I did what I could to hold them off. I was hit by absolute exhaustion as I had to put in a few gybes at 1am and spent the worst hours of 2 till 5am tight reaching, needless to say my speed suffered.
I raced for 8th place against Alan Roberts for the last upwind hours after once again sailing under the bridge north towards the finish line. It seemed I was back onto a course of sailing I had confidence in and I re took 8th place and continued to hold off the persistent Roberts till the line. The feeling of finishing such a difficult race is amazing, and a weight that subconsciously presses down on you for 2+ days is lifted which put me in a very jolly mood. I was still regretting a few sections of the race but if I was offered an 8th place before we started I’d have snapped at it. Apart from the result the race was a great success, I made substantial work on particular areas I wanted to improve on and everything I experienced is going to help me for the big one in June.
Although it has a weird name the Solo Maitre Coq is a cracking event and I will work very hard to make it possible to come back next year.