The start of the year saw me inbound for some sunshine as I flew to Lanzarote to join The Famous Project Team for the 10th anniversary of the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada.
The trade winds were not at all established ahead of this race and some interesting weather was setting itself up to the north of us. It made our decision to head south an easy one as we were all keen to avoid a boat breaking sea state. We were excited to race across the Atlantic under pressure from our competitors, Argo and Zoulou. Both campaigns had highly skilled, experienced sailors onboard and a newly developed foil package. This was an addition to the conventional design we had which would give them added boat speed in the right conditions. So, we were hoping for transitions and light winds to prevent them foiling too easily and getting away from us.
The coastal start to the turning mark off Puerto Calero was tricky and light with a shifty breeze. The inshore pressure band helped us arrive at the turning mark first but Argo had other ideas about turning inside us and, to avoid a collision, we stopped to let them through. Realising their aggressive mark rounding was not within the rules, they promptly carried out their penalty turns and were on their way. This encounter left us flustered and we lost focus, getting too close to Fuerteventura and an area of no wind which we struggled to get clear of to find the pressure just 100metres away. From here on, we played catch up. Heading to the African coast and gybing our way south and then towards the west. Looking back at the routes taken by the MOD 70’s we can see two errors which cost us. We sailed in pressure about 5 knots less than the others which made it more difficult to keep pace. Avoiding squalls and managing the navigation from Barbados to Grenada to round the south of the island and cross the finish line was lots of fun. The race allowed us to make a huge leap in our development and, more importantly, our confidence in sailing Limosa to her full potential. We arrived with boat and crew in one piece to enjoy the hospitality of Grenada.
Before we left, a group of young sailors from PCYC and Woburn Wind Warriors Junior Sailing Program were invited to visit the team and boat. It was great to be able to provide students an opportunity to see the technology up close, hear about the skills required to be a professional sailor and ask questions. We know how good the program is and that it really can inspire the next generation of sailors. A prime example being Sam Goodchild, who started his sailing in the same place as these guys, and who has successfully risen to IMOCA World Champion and challenging to win the Vendee Globe this year.
We said a fond farewell to Grenada to sail the boat north to Antigua. Our mainsail had other ideas and decided that it was too tired to keep it together for the delivery. It ripped just above the second reef which meant that, with three reefs, the trip took a little longer than planned. We missed dinner but made it for breakfast the next day. The pressure is on for the sail loft in Antigua to fix the mainsail so that we are ready for our next challenge. In the meantime, Limosa has been put to bed while our wonderful shore team, Lambert and Fonz, who will work their magic while the sailing team take a break at home.
My luggage had not arrived in Grenada to meet me which had left me with only sailing gear to wear. Not a problem in the Caribbean but slightly strange arriving into a wet, windy, cold UK wearing shorts with everyone around me wondering why I hadn’t done a weather check for the country I was flying into. Upon arriving home, a bouncy Jack greeted me and hustled me to change into something more weather appropriate and take him for his morning walk.
Time at home has been about getting back in the gym with my personal trainer and catching up with friends and family before the next adventure takes me away. I am sailing again shortly and looking forward to more fast, multihull miles. We have some racing and a delivery, providing us with a chance to share the experience with some new faces to see what they think.