There are approximately 257 days till next year’s solitaire and compared to the previous three I’m in a much better position. I have the boat, budget and time to put me on even terms with any of the best French guys. Being my fourth go Lack of experience is beginning to look like a weak excuse and I’m deeply excited about the prospect of putting a bit of pressure on myself to perform. Specific goal setting is never easy, particularly in a race that typically involves a good deal of drifting around on the tide, but my aim next year is to finish in the top ten. The dangers of saying something like this now are two fold: firstly you could come across a bit arrogant especially if you then fall short or you could potentially limit yourself by aiming too low. I’m quite clear that I don’t see the Figaro as a stepping stone, it’s a very worthy challenge in itself and I would like to try and win it one day.
For the moment I’m right in the heart of the planning stage. It feels like I have a lot of time at the moment but factor in days lost to bad weather over the winter, time spent refitting the boat etc etc and after Christmas I’m sure the number of useable days left will look scary already. The key thing is to work out my priorities now and focus on the really important things right from the start.
At the risk of sounding a bit simplistic the aim is to find more boat speed, consistent, repeatable, all round speed upwind, reaching and downwind, in all wind speeds, day and night. Pretty straight forward? It starts with a shiny boat with everything working reliably, good sails, straight mast etc. Then you need to know where to pull the sails into, how to set the rig, the rudders, pilot, stack etc for every wind speed and angle. Once you know all that then you have to be able to do that every minute of every day for four days at a time whilst sleeping, eating and working out which way to go. Figaro racing is a beautiful sport because of the completeness of the challenge. Piling all these demands on top of each other makes working out the ‘best way’ to get there a complex puzzle. The one thing I do know is that it’s going to take a total commitment to get it right. I’m very glad to have the support of everyone involved with Redshift as we work at this.