After 8 months of training the La Solitaire Le Figaro has been completed, an achievement that has been a goal of mine for some time. Before I go into more depth about each leg I thought I would give a general overview of what has happen over the last couple of months or so. The Solitaire as a whole has been an incredible experience; it has been the best sailing event I have ever raced in. I did have some of the most testing moments however but the adventure that I went on has produced some extraordinary memories.
The French support throughout the race was fantastic; they really do love this race and follow it closely. Their support was most notable to me as the fleet motored into the port of Paimpol, hosting the start of leg 3. I was a chilly day with frequent sudden rain showers which of course hit as we arrived, however the crowds stayed put clapping and waving us in and seemed genuinely excited that the race had visited their little town.
Leg 3 however was a disaster and cemented the fate of my performance in the race which has been hard to deal with. About 3 hours into the race as I sailed nicely within the fleet upwind there was a huge bang and then everything on the boat went loose. My forestay, fixing the mast to the front of the boat, had snapped ending my leg there and had me scrambling around the boat trying to secure the boat and bring it back into port.
The town of La Rochelle hosted the final leg and put on a great event for the last days of the Solitaire. The weather was amazing and didn’t produce a drop of rain while we were there which were a wonderful change from the weeks of rain we had been enjoying further north. I’d done plenty of dinghy sailing out of La Rochelle and loved being on the waters again with my yacht, this time the race was a major attraction with the boats moored up close to the centre of town.
The journey back to Cowes took 2 and half days which is good going for the 500 mile or so trip, with my dad on board helping out I was able to reflect on what had just happened in my life. Not only over the weeks of the Solitaire but 8 months ago when it all really began, back then I wondered if I was going to be ready to complete such a challenge with so little experience. I am disappointed with my result, I believe I deserved better than 35th place, it’s not a true reflection of my ability. But it is now the driver for me to come back and improve for 2017, because I have some scores to settle.
The next hurdle is finding a sponsor to support me, this could be the biggest hurdle.