Stepping off the plane in flip-flops and sunglasses was a good jolt back to reality after a fantastic week in the Caribbean. I was racing as part of the ten man team on Colin Buffin’s Swan 62 ‘Uxurious IV’ in the 4th edition of RORC’s Caribbean 600 race. This is a well conceived race course taking boats round thirteen islands in somewhat predictable but still testing trade wind conditions. Unlike most yacht races there is a reasonable chance of planning out most of your manoeuvres in advance, handy for us as ten crew is considered a little undermanned on a big heavy boat like this. We sailed a fairly clean race, aside from coming a clenched fist away from losing the number two genoa over the side, and finished first over the line in class one. We then had an agonising three hour wait for the next boat to finish to see if we had won the class on handicap. In the end our clock watching proved disappointing when the Spanish team beat our corrected time by a mere twenty one seconds over the fifty five hour course! Highlights of the race included passing the island of St Baths, where we will finish the AG2R in May, twice as well as eating real food all the way round. The low point was ‘hot bunking’ i.e. coming off watch and trying to sleep on a mattress completely wet with someone else’s sweat! Give me a pipe cot/ figaro spinnaker on the side deck any day.
After a day harvesting computers and sat phones in Cowes it’s back to the coal face in Lorient for me tomorrow. Training will be starting to get serious now as there are only three weeks before the first race of the season, the Solo Massif Marine, where Sam and I will join the rest of the Artemis team in Le Sables and get an idea how we stand against the rest of the fleet.