After nailing the pin end of the start line and leading the bigger boats, however briefly, on the short beat around the southern tip of Antigua concise got stuck into the fast reaching conditions that summed up the Caribbean 600. The best bit about this was not watching Rambler blast past at 25 knots or being ducked by the 115ft Sojana but the temperature of the water washing over the decks and over us. It was a totally new experience for me sailing in nothing but shorts and a T-shirt in big seas and 25 knot winds and never feeling a bit cold, even at night.
Fire hose reaching turned into more relaxed VMG running and before going into watches we enjoyed out first team happy hour where we ate Pringles, listened to power ballads and raced the boat hard as the sun set. From here we had enough reaching to get up level with some of the top 50 footers in the race before a 40 mile beat (not amazing in a class 40) put us back in our place, still leading the rest of the 40s by day two.
The only major hurdles from this point were a few cases of ‘spotty botty’ turning into nappy rash and one temperamental bunk dropping its occupant into the bilges at random intervals and we managed the course better than most of our fleet. Of six starters in the class 40 division four retired through a mixture of injury and gear failure leaving us with the balancing act of pushing hard to break the record and the three day mark while also looking after the boat to ensure a finish. Through some clever avoidance of large wind shadows around the back of the 11 Islands we rounded and an early break from watches to push for the finish we made the line with half an hour to spare and set a new class 40 record of 2 days, 23 hours and 31 minutes.
This was a great result for the team who have worked hard with their new boat for nearly a year and particularly satisfying for owner Tony Lawson as a good start to Atlantic Ocean Racing Series. Personally I found the race a very satisfying experience, putting into practice a lot of what I have learned with the Artemis Academy and also picking up new tricks from the guys on board. I head back to France on Sunday even more fired up for the selection series that is still ongoing and also looking forward to more involvement with Concise.