Santander – Camaret

Dinah won the start, and she was really quick. I was full of confidence and I enjoyed short tacking down the river that sunny morning. With my feel for the breeze in light conditions, and these sails with their perfect shapes, after 24hrs we were leading the race on the water. We were ahead of the much bigger and more powerful 40ft’ers, and pulling away from even the light displacement boats my own size. I always like light airs.

Start Santander

Some minor electronic issues, all caused by user error, cost me some time and a lot of personal energy in the middle portion of the race. Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley were too busy arguing down below to help put a reef in during the night. I started to recognise when I’m pushing myself too far. Nico Budel’s Open 40 and Katie Miller’s Figaro 2 got through me on the water. In reality they should have been miles ahead of me two days into the race, and I was clearly winning on handicap, but I didn’t like being passed, and I forced myself into a rest pattern before putting on another big push. In the last four hours of the race I caught up by 35 minutes on the Figaro 2, on an amazing high speed surfing spinnaker reach. The highest boatspeed to date (11.4knts) was seen on this leg. Under autohelm, with the sheets locked off, planing down a big roller, while I drank a cup of coffee!

Unfortunately the longer than planned light airs first section of the race meant I had charged my batteries once more than expected. With an airlock in the engine fuel feed, I had to sail on to the marina. For most people the thought of sailing a 35ft boat solo right up into a marina and onto her berth would give them nightmares, but by now I had a feel for the boat, and it seemed quite straightforward and almost normal. Dinah came to rest in her allocated berth and minutes later I was sitting outside a restaurant catching up with some of those that had pulled out of leg two.