June 3, 2012
What an awesome race!
Here’s a little update for everyone. It’s unfortunate that I can’t get the updates out during the race, but as Tim mentioned in the recent posts, the classe rules are very specific requiring no outside assistance, thus meaning that there are no points of communication from the boat except for in an emergency situation.
THE MAP (Trophee Marie Agnes-Peyron)
This race was going to be very different from all the other races so far. First of all it was single handed. Secondly, there was going to be a nice hi weather system rolling through, rather than a miserable low with storms and 30 knots on the nose like in all the other races. The greatest risk here was actually to have no wind and get caught in the current from the tides, while working through the tidal gates. A tidal gate is the optimal time to pass through an area of strong currents when the tide is ebbing or flooding. When the tide is slack, the gate is wide open. When the tide is at its fastest and against the direction you want to go……it’s least optimal.
The course took us through the bay and out of Douarnenez and into the Raz De Sein. My tactical choice for the bay was to sail out to the north shore and try to find as much wind as possible. The tide was ebbing, so it also meant crossing the deepest part of the bay and having the advantage of the stronger currents….maybe half a knot or so. The other option was to follow the shoreline, it meant less miles possibly, but also very very light fluky wind. Our choice to hit the north shore meant we were able to execute great upwind speed and great tactical positioning. OGOC and I were 5th heading into the Raz De Seine! The current running through the Raz is famous for being very strong, reaching upwards of 7 knots during a strong spring tide. Where the current runs into the standing water there are some incredible rips. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of major damage to boats in strong winds, but also in light winds getting caught in these rips. Once in the Raz De Seine we slogged our way through the current and then made the turn for Les Glenans. The spinnakers went up and the throttle got hammered. Here’s a picture of my friend Becky Scott with Artemis as she passed the key marks of the Raz.
So from the Raz De Sein we headed toward Les Glenans and then on to Ile De Groix. The sun was shinning, the wind was cooperative and there were some great opportunities to speed test against other boats. Going into the night there were sail changes, shifts and all sorts of testing opportunities. This race was the first real opportunity to be able to “train” against other minis. After coming around Ile De Groix, the wind was scheduled to die out. We were trucking along toward the Chaussee De Seine when the wind gods decided to take a nap. There is nothing more annoying than drifting and sails flogging. Eventually the wind filled back in and we were laying a perfect course to the Chausse De Seine. The last piece of the race was upwind in 10-13 knots of breeze. We were back in our element. The zero can be very quick upwind. After spending thirty years racing on Lake Ontario in 10-12 knots of wind, I’m happy to slog it out in the light air trying conditions while everyone else is absolutely frustrated because it’s not the usual twenty to twenty five knots. We picked up a few boats here and there and made up for our slow speed overnight, ultimately finishing us 35 out of fifty boats in the series division. What a great race to finish up on. Unfortunately it’s time to go home now. Time to pack up and put all the kit away for next year. We’ll be back for training and more racing to get the qualifying miles finished up!