After the obvious initial disappointment that accompanied our retirement from the 1000 Milles Brittany Ferries, I am now pretty satisfied with our work. Tanguy and I have an excellent boat which is going to give us a great chance of competing right at the front of the fleet in the TJV this November.
The next few weeks are going to be as busy as ever. We need to remove around 90kgs from the bulb to reduce our righting moment down to the maximum allowed. This will obviously also reduce the overall weight of the boat and for a predominantly downwind race like the TJV, we should be even more competitive!! Alongside this major job we also have to repair the starboard rudder. After further inspection it seems that the problems here all stemmed from one small weld failing. Again, although very annoying, we are pretty relieved it wasn't anything more serious. We also have lots of small jobs to complete and a few electrical issues to iron out. All this work is being carried out down in La Rochelle and the boat should be back in the water next week.
As with the Route du Rhum and Mini Transat, it is necessary to complete a 1000 mile qualifying passage for the TJV. The only real downer of our retirement from the Brittany Ferries 1000 is that we would have ticked this box. However, looking on the bright side (as seems necessary with this sport sometimes) we need some more miles under our belt before the Transat anyway and it will be good to test the boat after the latest modifications and generally get some more 'real' training in.
In the meantime I've been back in England concluding my RORC racing with Clemency [Williams] on Jos Of Hamble the Beneteau First 34.7. After two wins early in the season, we were keen to maintain our record and go for the 'hat trick'. In brief we had a great race in light winds and not only managed to win the doublehanded class but also managed to finish 2nd overall and first British boat, a fantastic finish to the season (see report below).
Over the next few weeks Tanguy and I will get ready for our qualifier and we also hope to announce a few technical partners who have signed up to the project, most of them will be familiar names to all be now though!!
Clemency Williams reports on their performance in RORC's Cherbourg Race:
After a manic mission from Somerset; leaving work at midday, dropping dogs off, getting stuck in traffic and picking the boat up from HYS, we hit the line on the gun and were off for the last offshore race of the season.
Light winds had long been forecast for the race so we knew that a good strategy was going to be necessary to secure another win in the 2-handed class. A patchy sea breeze held as we sailed east out of the Solent with the spinnaker up. As we approached Bembridge Ledge buoy we managed to fight off an attack from Diablo-J.
Rounding the mark just ahead of Diablo-J, we dropped our kite and took some height towards the Isle of Wight. The fleet seemed to divide into two; those that headed west of the rhum line towards the Island and those that stuck closer to the direct route. We managed to stay in the sea breeze for a while longer than the rhum line group and
kept moving. As the sea breeze died we drifted west on the tide for a while whilst the
gradient northerly re-established itself. However, we rarely stopped and managed to
make slow but reasonably progress towards Cherbourg and overtake some of the
boats around us. It was wonderful night for offshore sailing; slipping through the
inky waters under a carpet of stars. I tried to enjoy every second of it whilst also
trying to keep focused on the race, which was hard especially as I grew more tired as
the night wore on.
The northeasterly wind held pretty much all the way to the finish albeit with some
rather light patches and some tricky tidal currents. Somehow we got the maths correct
and held a steady course all the way to the finish. What struck us most about the First
34.7 in this race was her quick acceleration, in the smallest of puffs we were off
upwind and downwind. Crossing the finish line at Cherbourg we thought we had done
well as there were some much larger boats finishing after us, however, we had not
seen any of the other 2-handed boats on the way over. Had they pipped us to the post?
Rather cheekily, I asked the finishing boat how many two-handers had finished when the answer came back as none, a cheer went up from Jos. We had won!
One of our goals this season was to prove the First 34.7 as a competitive option for the ever growing two-handed class and I feel on reflection we have. Out of the three offshore races we started, we got three wins. Even more impressively we had excellent results against the fully crewed boats too, including a 4th and a 2nd Overall. Not only is she fast in all conditions, she’s also very comfortable, a definite improvement on the Mini!