Can't stay away

Third in the Mini Fastnet race Phil Sharp describes racing with with the record-breaking 100-strong fleet of Minis
After fulfilling my Mini Transat ambitions last year and selling my Mini, I thought I was now on track to leaving those mad 21ft ocean surfboards behind for good. Easier said than done however, for it did not take much persuading to find myself agreeing to an offer to crew in the prestigious double-handed Mini Fastnet race, with Team Adria 4Ocean. I was racing aboard 510 Adria Mobil Too, the second of the two Slovenian entries skippered by Andraz Mihelin, who finished third in last year's Fastnet and was naturally aiming to better this result. The 700 miles long course takes competitors from the Bay of Douarnenez, up through the strong tidal waters of the Chenal de Four, between Brest and Ile d´Ouessant, and heading north across the Western Approaches, rounding Wolf Rock off Lands End, and heading northwest up to the Fastnet Rock, 15 miles south of Ireland. After rounding Fastnet the course back to Brittany is clear and simple: sail direct to Douarnenez as fast as possible and try not to break too many things. By race day the forecast was very light winds for the majority of the race, not what we were hoping for having one of the fattest and stickiest boats in the fleet - hardcore Manuard designs are definitely not designed for light-hearted conditions! The start was pretty crazy, with 100 Minis lining up for position in the biggest fleet to date. And still everyone barges for the committee end as though every second is crucial in this five day long race. After two general recalls we were eventually off in some good sea breeze, and having got a good clean start we then proceeded to make abysmal tactical decisions sailing out of Douarnenez Bay, rounding the first mark in barely the top half. With