Nightmare start for me getting involved in a four boat pile up at the pin end with the result in me and race leader Yann Ellies ‘locking horns’ as our guard wires became entangled for a good 15 seconds. With this behind me and Yann doing a penalty on the line I set about making back some places and trying to put the incidence out of my mind. Not an easy thing to do when you’ve just held the race favorite and general friendly guy up for a good minute before the leg has even started (plus having to remember things for a potential protest later!)
As forecast the wind died as we headed out into Biscay and we had another afternoon of drifting along trying the keep the boat moving and stay sane as some boats found wind and some boats didn’t. With race race essentially being made up of two long straight reaches with a short beat through the Raz de Sein connecting them my memory struggles with the exact details of what happened and when after this so here is a random list of memories:
1) Biscay = dolphins, more than I have seen in the whole rest of my life added together. At times there was more dolphin than water and they seemed to enjoy occasionally nudging my rudders and generally getting as close as they could.
2) Henry’s pilot troubles, gutting for him but heart warming how many fellow competitors were on the radio trying to help him out. Especially Yoann Richomme who worked as main translator putting a lot of time and patience in. I’m now backing Henry for a serious comeback on leg 3.
3) Plastic bags – the water off the Spanish coast if full of them (something to do with storm drains apparently) and whilst I couldn’t confirm hooking any a lot of people did and it’s hard to ever be sure.
4) Approaching the ‘leward mark’ in the dark at 10 knots whilst dropping the spinnaker to have it suddenly appear about five meters in front and on the right side of my bow. I had thought I was more like 200m away but luckily was planning an early drop so turned the pilot off and rounded the mark like I’d done a perfect approach on purpose!
5) Final 120 mile close reach to the finish that turned out to be a useless place to sleep as fellow rookie Corentin Horeau and Sam (who is starting to feel like my shadow) were within spitting distance the whole time. Not only did they ruin my rest but they also both had the cheek to finish before me!
6) An unspeakable incident on final reach involving a misjudged use of the ‘facilities’ (all)over the back of the boat when the need took me all too quickly.
I think that sums up the leg. Overall I am a bit ambivalent about my progress so far. There is a school of thought that says it’s an achievement to have got this far and to finish the legs etc etc. If i’m honest though I had (maybe slightly unrealistic) dreams of glory and so far things have only been solid to mediocre. I know there are a lot of very experienced guys ahead of me and some behind but there is one more leg to go and I’ll do just about anything to make sure things improve.