Thursday 13th June saw the start of the MAP, a 220-mile solo race starting in Douarnenez. 73 boats started the race, of which 48 are competing in the series class. Douarnenez is where the Mini Transat 2013 and 2015 start will be, the MAP provided the perfect practise run.
We started in 15-20 knots; with a beat out the bay against the tide, rock hoping close into the shore, dodging between boats, I had a great battle with some of the top sailors in the fleet. I’d love to see my track and be able to see just how close I got so some of the rocks and wrecks. I studied the charts thoroughly before the start, as I knew I’d be too busy to be able to look while racing.
The tide spun just as we reached the Raz du Sein, I chose to sneak into the bay between the headland and the Raz du Van headland to try pick up the early favourable tide. Unfortunately it didn’t pay off, potentially due to the swell? It’s highlighted to me just how important it is to learn the local effects.
After the Raz du Sein we headed toward La Groix, the wind died off and conditions changing constantly. I must have used every sail on the boat before midnight. I struggled to stay awake through the night. I plan to test various sleep patterns before the transat. Usually I have no problem staying awake in a race, but I tend to get very little sleep in the week commencing, either due to final prep or work commitments. This race I was very prepared and managed to bank a lot of sleep, and seemingly got too used to it!! Maybe I’ll start my race sleep patterns a week early for the transat!
Anyway, back to the race….
It was upwind from La Groix up to Birvideaux, I rounded around 11:30, hoisted the kite and headed back for Douarnenez. The way back was a sleigh ride with winds up to 34 knots, which was slowly clocking round to the west. I flew the Code 5 most the way, but was forced to drop 15 miles from the Ouest du Sein to make the layline. Once around we headed back into Douarnenez bay with a few markers across. The first was dead down wind; the chop when I first rounded was very unpredictable so I held back from hoisting the kite. Once it had settled down I hoisted I stormed N towards Basse du Lis, 18 miles away. I saw 34 knots and managed to hit 17.6 knots of boat speed on the way down. AMAZING! Approaching the mark I dropped the kite and made a good rounding around preparing for the fetch (100 degrees TWA) across to the South side of the bay. With a 3rd reef now in the main, life was pretty full on.
Video surfing in 32 knots with the kite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oWgyA8XeHc
The final leg of the race was from Basse Veielle back to the Douarnenez entrance, 8 miles dead down wind. The wind was still up at 25-30 knots – I hoisted the Code 5, and gybed my way East towards the line, managing to overtake a number of boats in the last couple miles.
I’m disappointed with my performance on the first night and how much I lost after rounding the Raz. However I’m very happy with how much I managed to pull back on the 2nd day in the breeze.
Next up for me is the Mini Fastnet, starting this weekend from Douarnenez. We head North to the Fastnet Rock via Wolfe Rock and then back to Douarnenez. For this race I will be sailing on Proto number 427, with a French guy Thomas who usually sails from Lorient. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to play with swing keels and daggerboards.