To finish first...

British Mini sailor Phil Sharp recounts his progress in last weekend's Pornichet Select 6.50
There was both satisfaction and frustration in my first singlehanded race this year as I was forced to retire with halyard breakages after completing 250 miles of the 300-mile course - a bit of a blow and incredibly frustrating, since I was officially second at the time out of 70 boats and closing on the leader, Vecteur Plus, the eventual winner of what was definitely one of the most challenging races to date for me. Race start day saw about 10 knots of wind and 70 boats tussling for the line. I managed to get a really good start and led the fleet the first 10 miles or so out of the bay and around the first mark. This was the prologue race in itself, so I came first in this despite not having a final result in the main race! Once out of the bay the wind then dropped to sub-5 knots and the lighter boats of the fleet started cruising past me. 2003 Transat winner 151 (ex- Moulin Roty) now named Servomap took the lead and waltzed off into the distance with its massive new sail area and low displacement working extremely well in the conditions. Much to my frustration I had about 15 boats in front of me before the breeze filled in and I could eventually get the hammer down again as we tacked up inside Belle Ile to pass around the top. I found a really good set-up and soon could see no masthead lights ahead of me, but had Lapins Bretagne, an identical Magnen design to 419, about 10m astern of me as we rounded the NE Belle Ile mark. I hoisted the running spinnaker towards the second mark, which was not lit and impossible to find in the dark. Lapins Bretagne saw it up