I’m afraid it’s been a while since my last blog and lots has happened. After completing the Artemis Training the boat was taken down to Lymington for the start of the Solent 6.50. This was a new race in the Classe Mini circuit introduced for the first time this year, so the fleet was small and dominated by the English mini sailors. The likes of Pip Hare and Becky Scott were taking part and it was my first opportunity to test my skills against the best of the British. Matt Haslam was joining me for the double handed race and we had four/five days of final preparations in Lymington to get the boat through the safety checks and make sure we were as happy as we could be before starting the course.
After finally setting off, we left our nerves behind us and focused on staying up in the front pack. We had a great tacking match up the Solent and after a little confusion as to which fort we needed to leave to starboard we left the Solent in third place. The next couple of days proved physically and mentally demanding for both Matt and I. Having never sailed offshore together it was a bit of trial and error working out sleep patterns, manoeuvres etc…There were several interesting displays of the effects that sleep deprivation can have on your sanity, I was actually surprised at how quickly this affected us both – hallucinations on the helm where a little alarming to witness!
It was a frustrating race with light winds causing us to drift in the tide and missing tidal gates by minutes. It felt strange as we didn’t see another mini for the entire race after we left the Isle of Wight, which caused much debate between the two of us as to where we were positioned. On the final night we ended up short tacking around Lizard Point in the dark to avoid the worst of the tide. Even though this benefited us, it was a highly risky move as it meant navigating around rocks and shallow water when we were already very tired. As the sun rose, we were treated to our final 20 miles sailing downwind to the finish line in the fog. The welcoming site of Plymouth and crossing the line in third place was a feeling I won’t ever forget in my first even Classe Mini race!