What a great start to the class 40 circuit. The organization, competitors and fleet are vey professional and fun.
With 22 boats on the line it made for a exciting start. We had a relatively clean start and were off well. There was a funny little triangle infont of the city before we headed off towards a small group of islands near Cherbourg. I guess we were around mid fleet en route as the first night drew in. We rounded the mark and hugged the coast due to the tide. Fighting our way through the fleet into 2nd in the tough downwind conditions. From here it was a run to the east tip of the island of wight. We arrived as as one big group and had a great battle down the Solent, short tacking in negative current. Local knowledge definitely helped and we did well but to my surprise most of the foreign sailors had a pretty good idea too, I guess that's what happens somewhere as notorious as he Solent.
After a scary trip through the inside of the needles fairway it was a long beat down to the Lizard, with all its normal tricky tidal gates and standing wave and tidal pools. Some of the fleet went inside the military testing zone off Lulworth and got in trouble with the coast guard.
We had seen that the forecast looked increasing windy upto 40 knots in the Irish Sea and lots of the boats started to drop out. We had an email from the race committee clarifying this and said there was a change to the course. Instead of going to SE Ireland and then Fastnet they sent us around a GPS waypoint in the middle of the Irish Sea in order to have us back before it got too windy. We sailed downwind in tough bumpy conditions to the waypoint. On the return it started to get rougher and windier the whole way. A great decision by the race organizers. As we passed back past lands end it started to gt nasty, but we soon rounded the corner back into the English Channel and had a fast powerful leg towards the Channel Islands just off the wind.
As we rounded Gurneys the wind was much more relaxed and we change to the code zero and then to the spinnaker. As we went through the islands and pointed towards Cherbourg the wind rapidly got back up and we ended up being caught out with the big spi in 30 + knots. With a tough take down we got the small spi up and raced towards France at a rapid rate and with reality ease. From here we went back to the zero to smoke home overtaking one of our little group of 5 that had been competing through the whole race.
We finally finished very happy with a respectable 8th position at 4 am.