Figaro: Latest update from Conrad Humphreys

Figaro: Latest update from Conrad Humphreys

Sunday March 20 2011 Author: conrad Location: United Kingdom
Just a quick update and initial thoughts following the Fiagaro qualifier, First thoughts are, wow! That was a great introduction to the Figaro Class. The standard of the class is very high, in fact I would suggest that many of the top Figaro fleet, could be found anywhere at the top of our sport. The racing is intense and very tight. Just minutes separating the head of the fleet  and just 2 hours from front to back after 40 hours racing.   Generally, apart from a poor start, I was very pleased with my tactics, speed and boat handling. On the long downwind after the start to Il de Re, I pulled back up the fleet, gybing on the shifts and was inside the top ten passing under the bridge. Upwind, I lacked height and feel that my lack of rig tension was the cause. As the wind decreased, my speed against the fleet improved and overnight I took quite a few boats by tactically working up the coast.   I didn’t manage my sleep well. Looking at the big picture, its crucial to bank sleep when you can and on the steady upwind leg to the lighthouse, I should have readied myself for the long downwind that was to come. Instead, I stayed awake through the night, expecting to sleep after rounding the lighthouse.  With a confused sea round the back of Belle island, sleep was limited and after that it was impossible with a windy downwind, close reaching in 25knts.   My biggest loss was power reaching. I couldn’t maintain the height needed for the course and now know that the boat wasn’t set upright. I ended up sailing low and then dropping the spinnaker which proved very costly. I reckon I lost 10 boats on the second day and with it some morale as fatigue set in.   The final twist came on the last leg back around Ile de Re. The island is very tricky to navigate, with little room for error and at night, feeling shattered a whole different ball game. Having suffered a loss of GPS position on my Adrena navigation software, I backed up the waypoint onto my handheld GPS. At the most critical time, my whole instrument system, along with the autopilot went down., only returning after a system reboot. After passing under the bridge, I headed inshore to pick up the north eastly and found myself inside a massive oyster farm. Row upon row of black markers stretched out for a round 5 miles which there was nothing  I could do about.  Tired and stressed, I eventually escaped the maze and I finished back in Les Sables d’Olonne just 90 minutes behind the leader.   It was a good start to the season. I know where I lost ground and I know what to focus on when I get back to Plymouth. My next qualifier is in 6 weeks, in Concarneau, so I have some time to work on rig setup with Neil at Hemisphere rigging and we also take delivery of the new north sails. My aim is to head to Concarneau with the boat fully pimped and ready to improve our position in the championship.   Cheers Conrad

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