On the dock here at the St. Georges Dinghy Club in Bermuda we are welcoming competitors as they finish the race and come in to drop anchor and go stern-to the concrete dock. Everyone has a story of a hairy event or bungled maneuver, a kite in the water, a broach or a sail tearing and going in the drink. Solo sailing always presents challenges as there are simply not enough hands to do most jobs so you really have to think each maneuver through and not make mistakes. Inevitably something goes off plan and then the challenge is to get out of the jam with a minimum of lost time, equipment damage or injury. The group of six sailors that have finished have all done this race multiple times and are pretty salty dogs. It is great to look back and reminisce about races we have done together going back more than a dozen years. A certain bond definitely forms from sharing such a challenge and there is a great spirit of connectedness among the skippers. If anything were to happen out at sea I am sure each of these guys would come to my assistance in a heartbeat and that is a very good feeling.
The big news is that Ryan Finn aboard "Myrna Minkoff", the Mini-Transat 22' boat, has finished well ahead of many larger boats and ahead of his fellow mini sailors. The minis are in a class of their own in a "demonstration division" as it is their first year in the race so they are basically competing only against themselves this year until the race committee gets a handle on how to handicap them. The boats look like a scaled down version of my Open 50, with lots of beam carried aft and flat, planing underbodies. They are very quick and a handful to sail solo, but have been a breeding ground in Europe for sailors that go on to compete in around the world solo races in larger boats. I'm not sure I would put to sea in a 22' boat so my hat is off to these guys for taking on the challenge. My Open 50 looked gigantic by comparison, but I wouldn't want to cross oceans in a boat too much smaller.
So now the work turns to getting the boat ready for the return leg and hitting the work list of maintenance and repairs. And perhaps the occasional Dark and Stormy. My family arrives on Friday for a week holiday in Bermuda which we are all really looking forward to.
All Best to Everyone,