Golden girl Sam takes secondBritish singlehanded Mini sailors Sam Davies and Brian Thompson arrived in the north Brittany port of St Quay Portrieux in second and third place respectively at the end of the Mini-Pavois race this afternoon - a fantastic result for British solo sailing and an indication of what we can expect in September's Mini-Transat race from France to Brazil via the Canaries.
Stepping on to the dock an elated Davies told madforsailing: "I'm so pleased. But I hated most of it, because it was foggy and I hate the fog. I like to be able to see the other boats I'm racing." Thompson who should finish the race third overall on elasped time joked that the race had been a luxury - he'd been able to have two hours sleep in two days (all in 15 minute naps of course)!. "I indulged myself," he commented.
With 65 boats on the start line of the second leg starting from Portsmouth, there had been chaos in the light winds, with the tide running and a strong port bias to the line. The first mark of the course was a beat to the Nab Tower and then a tight spinnaker reach to St Catherine's Point at the southern tip of the Isle of Wight. In the strong eddies off St Catherine's Thompson said he had seen several of the 21ft fliers do 360s. "I was one of the few people to have my kite up going through that," said Thompson. "The waves were huge for about 10 miles."
The tide was with the fleet, but turned against them by the time they reached Anvil Point. With light winds, Thompson was forced to kedge for two hours. Minis are obliged to carry 25m of anchor chain and he had to lengthen the line in order to find the bottom. "There were a lot of tides," said Thompson. "On multihulls you tend not to think about the tides too much, you think about the wind more. In this you definitely had to play the tides right." Fortunately the south westerly breeze filled but the fleet were forced to beat the rest of the way to the Shambles. Matters were made all the worse by dense fog rolling in early yesterday morning.
From the Shambles, the Minis set off across the Channel, passing the Channel Light Vessel and leaving the Channel Islands to port. Fortunately the breeze had filled in to 15-18 knots giving the boats enough pace to cross the shipping lanes. However the fog was still present. Thompson said that he felt he was okay because he had fitted a radar transponder to his boat. This not only told him when there was a ship nearby, but also transmitted a pulse that would show up on any radars in the vicinity. Sam Davies did not have such a transponder, but crossed the shipping lane with another Mini, hoping that he had one fitted...
It was passing Guernsey that Thompson says race winner Ronan Guerin was able to make his break, sneaking past just ahead with the tide. When Thompson got there the tide was turning. "We were tacking in and out of the rocks off Guernsey. It w as quite exciting in the dark" he commented. The Minis then rounded a mark off the Minques before heading for the finish at St Quay Portrieux.
Figaro sailor Ronan Guerin finished at around 1100 GMT with an elapsed time of five days, 19 hours, 28 minutes and 53 seconds (there is no handicapping in this class) and having won the first leg from La Rochelle to Portsmouth is the overall winner. In the final rankings Arnaud Boisseries should be second, with Thompson third and Sam Davies moving up to fifth.