A long night

Wednesday’s race got off to a cracking start when I absolutely nailed the heavily biased starboard end of the start line to lead the fleet to the first mark. Also conveniently leaving Sam wrapped around the start mark inside me! Unfortunately a twist in the spinnaker (I had run the tapes before hand!) let half the fleet past within 100m of leg two. From here the race looked like a simple 30 mile reach down the coast and back again twice.

Being the Mediterranean though the wind didn’t play along with this. Just before to first mark, off a famous nudist beach, at Cap D’age the wind switched off and whilst the rest of the fleet squeezed round the turning mark I got dragged past it by a sneaky bit of localized current and ended up rounding 30 minutes behind the leaders . Here the fleet split with some boats choosing to make early gains tacking inshore and others including myself heading offshore for more consistent wind later on.

The offshore route proved favorable by the time we got back to the start for the second lap with Phil Sharp having gone from an early lead to four miles behind me. It was an odd feeling to be drifting around the bay at La Grande Motte at nght in sight of all the bars and restaurants only to be heading out to sea again not going to bed. Luckily having three boats in sight just ahead kept sleep at bay the competitive fires burning.

Enjoying the reach home

The rest of the night was concerned with beating back the way we had just come and trying to stay awake to drive the boat fast in the shifty conditions. It’s hard to judge how much sleep is needed on these “short” races. Clearly it would be possible to sail for 24 hours without a rest although I’m not sure if that is the fastest option. When I find myself starting to drift off I take that as a queue get the boat set up and grab 15 minutes. So long as the conditions are OK I’ve taken to doing this on deck so I’m ready to race should the breeze change enough to disturb my sleep. So far alarms haven’t been necessary, maybe on a longer race when I’m seriously tired racing instincts might not be too reliable.

The last leg home from Cap D’age  turned out to be a beautiful spinnaker reach in 15-25 knots and having the Sam who was leading well insight plus the constant threat of wipe out banished any thoughts of tiredness until I had safely cross the line in 3rd place. Sleep was put on hold back for coach Franck Citeau’s cruel plan to make us do one short race in fatigue mode for practice. The race turned out to be quite hairy as the 30 knot tramontane that had carried the last boats to the finish made our mile long windward leward pretty hectic!

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