First time winner


Olympic medallist Jonathan McKee on how a newbie solo sailor creamed the competition in leg one of the Mini Pavois
After leading from the outset of the Mini Pavois singlehanded race which started from La Rochelle on Sunday, American Jonathan McKee has proved that a background as a double Olympic medallist and America's Cup sailor does count in the rarified world of shorthanded offshore racing when winning the first leg into Portsmouth in convincing style earlier this morning. McKee crossed the line of Portsmouth at 05:02 BST this morning and moored up at Portsmouth's GunWharf Quay described to The Daily Sail how his first ever singlehanded offshore race had gone. "The breeze started out at 20-25 knots but it was reaching, so it wasn’t too bad the first night," said McKee. "Then it gradually headed, and ended up being on the nose for about 12 hours on Monday afternoon and evening. That was the toughest part of the race from Penmarch up to Sein." The boats were sailing northwest up the Brittany coast and had to round marks of the headlands at Penmarch and Sein before they could crack off to leave Ushant to starboard. "There were huge waves and quite a confused sea, and 20-30 knots for a long time," continued McKee. Sailing upwind in these conditions off a lee shore in a lightweight 21 ft race boat is not for the faint of heart. "It is pretty tough. I ended up getting into my survival suit, and you are just hanging on just keep sailing the boat and trying to keep making progress towards the mark. You just keep thinking ‘if I can make it to this mark, then it becomes a reach and it will become a lot easier’ which was true. It was still tough sailing after that but after I got round Sein, it got a lot more comfortable. So I just kept focussing on

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