However good my intensions are of getting these things out straight after the event it never ends up straight forward. After finishing on Wednesday night, sleeping like the dead for 12 hours and getting to the prize giving the next day for tentative handshakes on sore hands and finding out who finished where at the front of the fleet, opportunities for more rest weren’t very forthcoming. Having been a total moron and letting go of my main halyard at the finish so that it ran up into the mast, first on the jobs list was the horrible task of free climbing the last five foot of the mast to rethread it. Whilst not the most technical piece of climbing the risk of falling twice the five foot of slack in the halyard onto non stretch rope in your harness is enough to put the willies right up me. With this done and the mess of 55 hours of racing mostly cleared out of the boat it was time to put shiny new sails on the boat and head out into the windy afternoon for a photo shoot only making it to dinner an hour late at nine thirty. The next day saw a hectic morning of pulling boats out of the water and loading as much surplus baggage into my shiny CurraDinghy van for the drive home as possible.
So onto the race. A brief summary. First afternoon and night, light winds, sailing around the best of France has to offer in rocks and headlands in a tight bunch of boats with lots of place changing, figaro racing at its best. Dawn day one, the wind shut down before filling in, probably predictably from the south west for the rest of the race. I managed to land myself squarely in the wrong part of the ocean for this bit and the fleet strung out for a long reach around Ile de Yeu and back, in the rain. To say this was a low points would be an understatement. Hearing that eight boats had already made the canny move of heading home to avoid the 250 mile procession through the drizzle was a further kick in the teeth.
It was some time around now that I remembered how much of these races is often spent questioning the sense in sailing around by yourself for days on end, making resolutions to never come back and desperately looking for entertainment. The things that helped cheer me up on the emotional roller coaster included: sleep, food, a well timed radio chat with Sam just behind and finally the presence of a small, tired bird perching on the chart table for an hour or so, clearly in need of some company himself. Even better that these things for repairing the mood on the good ship 23 was approaching the turning point in the course having made some good inroads into the boats ahead. Tacking into thirty knots around the back of the island with six boats in sight brought the race back into sharp focus and the big positive I’m taking from the experience is how I managed to turn it on in the final stages. Probably due to having done some good sleeping the day before I manage to reverse the trend I’d got into last year of finishing poorly and took three places in the last 12 hours. A good way to banish the bad memories and give myself a strong hunger for the solitaire in three weeks time.