We are like a week late with this report, as the Class 40’s are now on to the next event, but we still think it is still an interesting look at the world of the 40’s…
Still buzzing from our 3rd place in the Record SNSM, we arrived in Les Sables last weekend, a week before the start of this double handed Class 40 race to the Azores. Entries are limited to 25 places and one of the boats dropped out a couple of weeks ago, so 24 boats have been moored on the Vendee dock for a week of scrutineering, briefings, press, all culminating in the prologue race which ran on Friday afternoon.
Scrutineering turned out to be particularly painful – not only was it early 30 degrees with little wind, the scrutineers are all volunteers from Les Sables. Absolutely lovely people but a few of the technical points tough to get sorted as they’re not all sailors – standing joke on the dock was that we had to supply the email address for our vhf!
It’s been full on week prepping the boat, Senior (Mike West), Bag (Ian Bartlett) and myself have been through everything on the boat to get her fully sorted for the Sunday start. Having said that, we have managed to find some time for a few beers to cool off.
JB from North Sails kindly came over on Thursday night to deliver us a new light airs A1 spinnaker plus our new trysail/staysail and stayed on to race the prologue with us. Absolutely stoked with the new kite. The conditions were looking perfect for the sail’s first outing in the prologue – 8-12 knots and really sunny.
The Town of Les Sables runs a raffle for locals to enter and the first 48 names out of the hat get to race on the boats competing in the prologue. We were joined by locals Annick and Stephan – neither of whom had ever sailed before but were really chuffed to be sailing for the first time on a Class 40.
The plan was to take it really easy in the Prologue but as usual the red mist descended and we were pretty fired up for it. Huge port bias on the line so we decided to start on port at the pin!! The tactic paid (just!) and we lead from the line. From then on, with some good crew work and focus on pace, we covered the rest of the fleet and gradually extended our lead throughout the two hour race.
Still in the lead towards the line, there was the conversation about it being really bad luck to win the prologue but I was having none of it – a win’s a win and it was our first bullet on the boat in the biggest fleet we’d sailed in to date. We nailed it by a few minutes and Keysource took her first win!!!
Les Sables put on a lovely prize giving in the evening where all 24 double handed teams were presented to the town outside the town hall and we picked up our trophy for first place – our first piece of silverware – something that means a massive amount to the team.
So, all attention is now on the main event starting on Sunday. The weather is looking like a beat for the first couple of days so it will be about finding the right shifts and placing ourselves in the best position for exiting the Bay of Biscay.
We got a massive boost from the Prologue but the real race starts tomorrow. Watch this space…
N.B. Keysource has a tracker and the site should be posting regular updates – www.lessables-horta.com to check progress on the race and see more pictures from the race.