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Monthly Archives: July 2010

That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for the Mini Class Azores Race, aka

The fleet is small this year with 38 boats, however most of the serious mini campaigner’s preparing for next year’s Mini Transat are participating, so the competition should be as good as it will get within the mini class. 

It’s a fascinating thing to see all of these little boats getting ready and sailors walking up and down the dock all day.  You can tell everyone is ready to go though, because seeing the same faces for days on end and saying bonjour, salut, hey, blah blah blah is getting old for all involved.  But what we all know is that we are all heading out on an ocean race, in tiny boats, and that no matter how much we try to sort our lives out at the dock, something is going to happen.  Joy, pain, fear, broken boats, broken spirits, hallucinations, you name it. The adventure element will never disappear from this kind of racing, and if there is one thing we all have in common it is empathy.    

 We go out there to race, but also to discover things that are impossible to find out without actually putting ourselves out there.  As I do this more it’s the thing that is most exciting about the sport. 

Here is a picture of Myrna representing SA in Les  Sables.  The last time this branding was here is was with Bruce on Ocean Planet, and the same supporters of his campaign have stepped up to help me here too.  It’s been really wonderful to have that support by extension.

Oh, and I broke my mast two days ago in the prologue race.  We had guests on board, and one of them accidently opened a runner clutch during a gybing in 17 knots of wind, just before I had the new runner on, and the mast fell forward and broke in two just below the deck.  That’s why there is no mast in this picture.

So that sounds really bad, however, after the mast broke it stayed up because I have lines below securing the mast fore/aft and there was enough compression from the runner I put on quickly and the halyards etc…  I managed to get the new, very big BD kite ( in the boat safely and the boat head to wind with forestay and runners on tight.  We even managed a tack to crab off the coast a bit until a boat could come tow us in. 

Once at the dock we pulled the rig, laid it on two saw horses, and I simply tugged at the bottom and it came off cleanly!  It should be noted that Classe Mini had already arranged for a carbon guy to come look at the mast by the time I was at the dock.  They definitely want sailors in their events, despite much of the bureaucracy we complain about over coffee and on forums.   The sailors were all very supportive too, sharing ideas and experiences about how to fix the rig.  I wasn’t too nervous about getting it done because besides the lower bits everything was still intact.  Wind instruments, mast track, sails, rigging, all that stuff.  Luckily it managed not to fall overboard.  The guest was extremely apologetic and I have no hard feelings about it because it was an accident.  Besides, I had to focus on getting it back together, and this is it as it stands in the boat now: 

 One piece.  I had a good guy on the project.  He built a sleeve for the inside, scarfed the good parts of both tubes into the sleeve and then built it back up to the original laminate.  I am confident it will perform as new.  He’d done this many times before, and I’m not worried for some reason.

 I mean, I’m sure I’ve worked out all the bugs in my boat at this point.  What could possibly go wrong that hasn’t already!  It feels so good to have these difficulties behind me, now I can just focus on enjoying the race.  I also brought a whole volume of Garfield books to read on the way because the first leg looks so easy, and I find that cat’s sardonic nature so titillating.  That Garfield, will he ever change!

Wasn’t someone talking about a font for sarcasm?  Should be applied to the paragraph above.

We start Sunday afternoon.  The weather looks really nice for the first leg with a lot of reaching and running, and we are all excited to get off the docks here.  Follow our dots:

Next stop, Horta.



Not officially, but I got word through the tiny strand of grapes that is the mini world, that my qualif was accepted. 

So onwards and upwards.  I’m going to be wetsanding the orange paint that I just put on the keel.  I’m really excited for that, because I love wetsanding.  I also like falling down the stairs, spilling coffee and cleaning up broken glass.

When that’s done, the boat can go back in the water and I can start sorting my electronics.  It’s mainly calibration stuff.  Speaking of electronics, this occurred to me the other day.  I’ve been using 90 watts of IQ solar panels, Genasun charge controllers and Genasun LION batteries, and the electrical system has been amazing.  I’ve sailed for the last 3,000 miles with this system only, no backup, and my voltage has literally never dropped below 13.1 volts.  Pretty awesome products there. 



I’m back.  Had a very easy qualifier.  Less wind than I wanted but easy none the less.  It seems like I slept the entire first two or three days, then kind of woke up when the wind got light and I had to do sail changes. 

 I used a Pogo 2 mainsail and a very small jib so as not to wreck my racing sails.  The P2 sail is about the size of mine reefed and the jib is also the size as my jib with one reef, so I didn’t have to reef either sail, even while reaching in 27 knots across the English Channel.  It was great!  I guess that’s why cruising  boats have such small sails.  It’s just more relaxing. 

Once I was back in the bay I set my course for Ile de Re, which is at La Rochelle, and I rounded the island in major thunder storms with cloud to cloud lightning that lit the sky like the sun and streched from one horizon to the other.  It was unpleasant to say the least, but also beautiful.  Very differant in scale to the storms we have on the Gulf Coast.  Ours are more explosive and more compact.  These squalls maxed out at 30 knots and I just took the sails down, because I was in restricted waters rounding the island, and waited a few minutes for them to pass.  Then just sailed on. 

I returned to Lorient eight days after leaving, and even though I was a little sad to be out there for the first couple days, upwind in breeze, I really enjoyed the trip overall.  I’m waiting to hear back about the qualif from Classe Mini to see if I’m accepted in the Azores Race or not.  Until then I’ll just carry on preparing.

I’m leaving this morning to do my 1,000 mile solo qualifier for the Azores Race.  I have to sail from Lorient to Ireland to La Rochelle and  back to Lorient.  I’m in a rush to get out because there is a weather window I am trying to make, but I wanted to let everyone know that I’m off for the next week or so.  I will take pictures and video and post them when I get back. 

See you soon