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Little Boat, Big Effort

Little Boat, Big Effort

It’s
no wonder that the best offshore sailors in the world come from this
part of France where 15ft tides and 6kt currents ripping through rocky
cuts are commonplace and you have as many volunteers showing up to help
organize a race as you have sailors. Having had a bit of a break after
sailing over 2000 miles on Reality in a six week period I finally have
a chance to reflect on what has led me to being the only American here
in France, qualified for this years Azores race. The 2600 mile solo
race from Les Sables d’Olonne, France to Horta starts on the 26th
of July. The Mini racing here is absolutely phenomenal and the competition,
especially in the larger races such as the MAP and the Mini Fastnet,
is top notch. The conditions here can be quite brutal in a 21ft boat
that weighs less than a J-24. Abandons can be quite common with 11 of
the 70 starters in this years Mini Fastnet (that went nowhere near Fastnet
Rock) dropping out for various problems including a dismasting early
on and a boat losing it’s keel on the third night in 35-40kts
of gusty wind and brutal waves. Interestingly enough the sailors from
the boat that lost it’s keel actually finished the race, although
on a different boat, after being picked up out of their life raft by
some of the other racers.