Well here I am! It's been a struggle all the way to the end

 

It just wouldn't let up. For the past 4 days I've have 30 - 40 and then 28-30 knots today. At 40 knots the boat banks really hard and just bangs constantly. I'm bruised and battered because of the movement of the boat. You feel so weak. The boat is very jerky. There's always lots of motion and action....

 

© GOUEROU Gaetan

 

It just wouldn't let up. For the past 4 days I've
have 30 - 40 and then 28-30 knots today. At 40 knots the boat banks really
hard and just bangs constantly. I'm bruised and battered because of the
movement of the boat. You feel so weak. The boat is very jerky. There's
always lots of motion and action. It feels really unstable and you wonder if
you're getting weaker or whether the boat is becoming more unstable and your
balance goes too. This was tougher than any of the legs in the Around Alone.
It's a very physical boat. Part of my problems were down to lack of
preparation. I wasn't fully prepared leaving Canada for starters.

The automatic pilot issues were really hard as it would do surprise tacks or
gybes at will. I was constantly on tenterhooks and could never relax. I
don't know if there was a flaw in the automatic pilot or if it was to do
with the sizing. Whatever it is it needs to be resolved because you can't
race if you can't relax and shut down at some point.

This is my first race on an Open 60 so the learning curve has been very
steep. I'm not in the best shape physically either and I've also been
concentrating on raising sponsors and finance instead of spending quality
time on the water. My sail handling has improved but there are a lot of
improvements I want to make. The boat was only at about 70% of its potential
if not less and a lot of that is down to me not being ready and lacking
experience. I had issues with the headsails - I was surprised by how easily
they get damaged and a lot of the damage occurred when taking them down or
furling them. The first sail I lost was the genoa, but that was down to
hydraulics problems. Then over the past few days I lost the solent and the
staysail in quick succession - the clew blowing out in both of them. I ended
up under storm jib over the past few days and was delighted to see Michel
Desjoyeaux and his whole team welcome me in this evening and make sure I got
in safely with the tide.

I haven't had any weather files (MaxSea issues) other than 3 tiny short
range forecasts, which has led to some drastic tactical errors.  I have to
say though, the level of the leaders is astonishing! It's been a really rude
awakening. They're in a different class of boat and have very different
amounts of experience. To be honest, it's unnerving to try to play the same
game as them. I shall take all that's I've learnt from this though and move
forward. I have a lot of financial and physical hurdles ahead and to play a
tough game like this you yourself have to be tough. Right now though I'm
looking forward to Christmas in France with my family!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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