Here’s a May update from the Offshore Academy, it’s been a bumper month so let’s get you caught up! This month was primarily focused around the Allmer Cup in Le Havre but that’s not to mention, there were plenty of adventures along the way! Feel free to send on our adventures in order to others that may be interested!
Offshore racing is all about the racing, well yes but what can become lost behind the fanfare, flags and most reports is the logistical challenges that are there behind these projects…. For the The Havre Allmer Cup this year, we were faced with the necessity to move the boat, van trailer and assist three other Figaros to get from Port La Foret, our home port, up around North Western France, across the Cherbourg peninsula and to Le Havre, the 300nm delivery, 5 hours by road or nearly 3 days on the particular boat, not ideal rest before a solo offshore event.
Faced with light winds for the delivery, it was obvious we would end up being spending a lot of time under the engine therefore with extra diesel cans on board, we left Port La Foret in the early hours of the morning with the intention of heading directly to Le Havre, with the potential to stop in Roscoff or Cherbourg for a pit stop. We had a convoy of myself, Conor Fogerty of Ireland on his boat RAW, Tiphaine and Ahmad on Pier Cophams boat, Voile Des Agnes and Sanni Beucke would be joining us along the method as she was coming from Lorient, about 30 miles south of Port La Foret.
Those who sail regularly will know the possible risk of lots associated with time under engine due to light and fickle winds, there is the particular huge risk of runner over and getting fouled in Lobster pot markers, this risk is increased ten fold when at night when it will be impossible to see the markers. As our delivery had seen little to no wind, we had as a group decided to make a pit stop in Roscoff to get some rest and top up on diesel. About midnight in the pitch-black dark of night, thankfully only 2 miles through Roscoff but very close to the island of Ile De Batz the engine came to a very sudden plus abrupt stop! Being in the dead of night it was very hard to see how badly the propellor was wrapped but worryingly there were two narrow aluminium, staffs running out from the back of the propellor, this has been no simple wrap! Here i was in the dead of night, disabled within no wind but close to Roscoff but in notoriously fast-flowing and dangerous tides. My training group from La Rochelle had pulled into Roscoff a day earlier so thankfully Alexi Thomas and Swann answered my desperate phone call with regard to help and came away in a RIB to tow me into the safe haven of Roscoff. Tired, relieved, frustrated but most importantly in a safe haven it quickly became apparent that the best course of action was to get some sleep and deal along with it within the morning…
What came next is just the pinnacle display associated with kindness and help to the solo sailor in need. Tired and urgently looking to get on the way to Le Havre, I wandered up to the Captainerie (Harbour Master) to explain the plight and look regarding help. The lady behind the counter immediately understood the situation I was in, faster than I could think, there was a RIB alongside my boat towing me over to the particular travel hoist to lift the boat out where the staff of the marina and yard were on hand, tools at the ready to free our propellor, before I knew, it, my baot had been back in the water on a berth alongside my friends and fellow Figarists, propellor free an dready in order to continue my delivery when I chose. Somehow I had managed to mow over the particular flag staff of the lobster pot marker wrapping the aluminium staff of the lobster pot, the equivalent of an Optimist sprit, close to my propellor shaft 3 times…. I cannot thank the staff of marina in Roscoff for their immediate help and gratuity to a foreign solo sailor. I was bowled over when I went into pay for everything and they waived all the bills!!! Tahnkyou!
After all this drama, I quickly came to the realisation it would be best to forgo continuing my delivery that day and spend a night on the marina, have a good meal with my friends from La Rochelle and leave as part of a bigger convoy the next day. A great decision as the rest of the delivery was painless and we arrived in Le Havre incident free 28 hrs later. We arrived upon the 18th of May, with plenty of time to sleep ahead of the Le Havre Allmer Cup.
The Le Havre Allmer Cup is a challenging event with the long offshore stage plus two coastal races mixing offshore strategy and sailing with inshore boat handling and intensity. Due to weather complexities and the potential of the Royal Navy practising live firing off the south coast of the particular UK, our offshore course was subject to change. Yann Chateau was our own director of racing and is one the best, he is the model associated with race director who is usually totally on top of his game, in touch with competitors and spectators alike and someone I would place full trust in intended for any offshore race management. Yann gave us an excellent course that would take us out of Le Havre, North in order to the Needles fairway buoy off the Solent, westerly to Eddystone Lighthouse as well as the south to a buoy in the channel of the entrance to Roscoff before heading east, through the particular challengine tides within the channel islands, up over the Cherbourg peninsula and back to le Havre, some 450 miles! The weather forecast was relatively stable which might see light in fickle winds as far because the Needles fairway buoy before and building upwind leg to Eddystone followed by largely downwind reaching and running conditions returning to home.
We started the race well rounding in light conditions the first top mark within the top 10 before having a disastrous downwind leg and getting clear to head towards the UK in the bottom 10!!!! In light winds, it grew to become a speed test in reaching conditions with lots of peeling (sail changing) between the gennaker (Code 0) and big spinnaker with no sleep to cross the English Channel north to the Needles Fairway buoy just west of the entrance towards the Needles. Despite my best efforts within fleet where there was a lot of expansion and compression of the fleet, We rounded the fleet within the bottom end ahead associated with a long beat westwards in order to the Eddystone lighthouse.
Our upwind slog Westwards was long along with the complexities of the tide on the South Coast of the UK plus the fact that we managed to hit almost every headland against the tide which made the best long, very long, almost 24 hours to the minute to get from the Needles Fairway to the Eddystone lighthouse. There is very little to report on this lower-leg, inshore to get out of the tide, then offshore to get into the tide when preferable to make way west along our route, there has been a change to the cruising instructions forcing us in order to go south of a line between two waypoints since the Royal Navy had been using the area to get some target practise which usually caused some fun and amusement along the way.
Finally about 0800 French time after short tacking in off Start Point through the particular night, we rounded Eddystone lighthouse to be able to make our method south towards what had been originally supposed to become a mark off Roscoff but a change in the course meant we were heading slightly further East to a mark called La Jument des Héaux which is regarding 30 miles east of Roscoff and a mark I actually remember well from rounding during the Solitaire 2 years ago on the legs in and out of St Breuic! Downwind sailing, sun out there, 12-15kts of steady blowing wind allowed time to dry the boat, get a few rest and eat several food…. The leg was very straight forward, 145 True Wind Angle the whole way to the mark. Despite the simplicity of the leg, by the bottom tag I had regained 4 places!
The gybe at the indicate and then it has been a tighter reach together the French coast towards Guernsey, where we thankfully were fighting tide as we approached the route islands but the good news is that we were then to have the particular notorious tides around the Cherbourg peninsula with us as we crossed the top of the peninsula, to head back towards le Havre!
The remainder of the race had been very straight forward after this with a few gybes over the top of Cherbourg, achieving and running all the particular way home! In this race I finished up 20th which I was reasonably happy about. The placing was not the majority of important thing, what was more important was to prove in order to myself that I experienced the speed in the relevant areas to be capable to sail with the pack and pick away a few places from time to time! Bed time was adopted the following day by a Pro-Am day where the two Irish skippers Tom Dolan plus Kenny Rumball took some winners or a radio competition racing in J80s away from Le Havre, great fun and a fantastic opportunity to get sailing in a relaxed environment!
Friday and Saturday had been coastal race days, the race each day of about 30 miles. Race one was. A simple loop around the end associated with the shipping channel within Le Havre and back to a finish line similar to where we finished the offshore. This race was in 15kts of wind mostly, dying to 12kts at the end. A silly mistake at the first windward mark cost a great deal of places, however a solid 18th kept me content despite losing a lot of places initially! The final coastal day race on Saturday started with the windy reach and then a long tactical challenging upwind to the nearby port entrance of Antifer before a long run home. I sailed nicely in this race to post my best result of the series, with a great result of 9th which I was content with but my coach stated that it has been about time I sailed to my potential.
With no time to spare, as soon as we hit the particular dock, it was period to swap sails and get the boat delivered to Ireland for the Round Ireland Race. Luzerne Under 25 team through Ireland had arrived in order to bring the boat back again to Dublin. This is a key component of the Academy. Here we are supporting four U25s in their own ques to compete in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland race. The Academy is supporting the team in terms of boat charter, coaching on the particular water, navigation preparation, food selection etc, exactly what the Academy was setup to do.
No relax for Kenny, I had been home for an only a short few days before it was off to the particular UK for a final shakedown race on Darkwood the J121 which I will be onboard for the Round Ireland this year!