black clouds and bananas
A black cloud has been chasing Jeffrey Macfarlane all over the Atlantic as he fights to be one of only two Americans at the line of this fall’s huge Mini-Transat. You’ll remember Jeff was rescued off his boat a few months back after the keel box, deck, and mast of his Mini started falling to bits during a gale in the Med. He quickly found a new boat to charter for the rest of the season, so now he’s got to sail a 1000 NM qualifier. Once that’s over, the real work – getting a somewhat tired boat ready for one of the most demanding races in the sport. Here’s an update:
Since returning to France I managed to charter a Manuard designed Mini – it is number 759. It is a great boat – a more powerful hull design better suited for strong wind sailing. However, at this point much of the equipment on the boat is very worn. I have started to make the necessary updates, such as a new (working) AIS. I am hoping to get new sails soon as the ones on the boat are very tired.
Sam Manuard (the boat designer) and I spent a few days training on the boat to help get me up to speed quickly. Because I had to restart all of my Mini Transat Qualification requirements after losing 716, the process has been incredibly rushed. In order to make the deadlines, I had to race in the Trophee MAP Race in Douarnenez, France just a few weeks after having the cast removed from my hand. I was a little hesitant at first, but was able to manage. Unfortunately, my spinnaker pole broke the first night of the race, slowing me down a great deal. Even so, I finished 8th and am proud of the result. Next, I sailed in the double handed Mini Fastnet, also out of Douarnenez with Sebastien Picualt. The 600 mile race was challenging as we were sailing in a high pressure system, making for light and unpredictable weather systems. But once we rounded Fastnet Race, we had a very fast trip back with ideal downwind conditions (18-20 knots) most of the way. We finished 9th in this race. While the boat has potential for great speed, we struggled to keep pace in upwind conditions. Hopefully with new sails, this problem will be taken care of!
Now, I am preparing to head out on my 1000 mile qualification course. I will sail from Douarnenez to Connibeg Light near Waterford, Ireland, down to Rochebonne, around Re Island (near La Rochelle, France), up to Belle Ile, and finally finishing in Port Bourgenay. After this 1000 mile sail, I will race in the Transgascogne Race. The race consists of two legs – from Port Bourgenay to Luanco, Spain and then back. After I finish the Transgascogne Race, I will have completed all of the necessary qualification requirements for the Mini Transat. I am really looking forward to that day – it will be a huge weight off of my shoulders.
BREAKING NEWS: As of a few hours ago, Jeffrey writes: “A few hours into my qualification, my mast broke due to a brand new side stay breaking… Back in Douarnenez to make the repairs. Hopefully I’ll be starting again tomorrow evening. First order of business after reaching the dock – removing all of the bananas (dried and puréed) from my Mini. I think I’ll pay closer attention to superstitions from here on out… Oh, and replace ALL rigging…
July 8th, 2013