Thankfully the heavens gave us all some respite to get the boat out and to the start line. Unfortunately I didn’t read the tide right and meant we got to the start line slightly late compared to everyone else, I suppose on a race 230nm long 10s on the start doesn’t make too much of a difference… The wind angle was almost perfect to allow a two tack and we’re out the Solent being swept along at a rate of knots!! We must thank the Belgium’s, Azawakh, for being very kind and tacking off just before they were to take our wind (they still won so it didn’t slow them down too much!)
Contrary to what the weather report was saying on Friday night, the weather improved markedly and we were heading straight for Salcombe with blue skies and 10-15kts from the SSE. This meant decision time, whether we take the inside route at Portland or stay out as far as we can…. The inside route would have meant loads of current but the possibility of a back eddy if we went far enough in. Whether this was the right or wrong decision we do not know as we kept the leaders in sight for most of the evening!
Once the sun had descended below the horizon things started to get interesting… The rain that was predicted started to come down steadily increasing in pressure until by about 2300 it was pelting down and howling with wind. So, Dark + Rain + LOTS of wind = awesome time, RIGHT? Well, it was pretty hairy stuff even before Ian went down to get some shut eye. In the growing wind, we had to change the jib… lots of fun with some real foredeck acrobatics trying to get the tack unclipped or the sail to actually hoist!! Ian finally went down below (as it was his turn in fairness) and the darkness set in, leaving me to battle through the steadily building breeze (20, 25, 30, 35…) upwind. I was kept company by swathes of phosphorescence disturbing schools of fish fanning out away from the boat with torpedoes of light flying through the water (dolphins) chasing both us and the fish… That was until BANG, out outhaul snapped and it was all hands on deck to find a quick solution which ended up being the spare reefing line tied to the ring and ground on.
Thankfully once that had all been sorted out the wind died back down to 25-30 knots as we continued towards the Start Point Lighthouse that had been illuminating our path forwards!