Skipper's Logs Archive: Normandy Channel Race 2011


A little bit of everything: last minute leaks, strange slowness, big wind, bad seas and speed!
May 24, 2011

Second Skipper Log Entry:

A little bit of everything: last minute leaks, strange slowness, big wind, bad seas and speed!
May 24, 2011

It has been a busy two days since the start on Sunday.   To rewind the tape, all the boats parade in a line out of Caen and down the canal to Ouistreham.  We went into the lock together rafted up and then a band played a few songs and we were ready for action.  As we sailed to the starting area, we loaded up one of our port water ballast tanks and it sprung  a leak!  Not good a few minutes before the start!  David Thompson-  our ace preparateur-  grabbed the waterproof epoxy and smeared some on the leaking area and amazingly, it seems to be holding.  Anyway, it was very hectic before the start getting David off the boat and getting our engine inspected so we can't use the forward gear...; no cheating allowed and strictly enforced over here! 

We were late to the line on the committee boat end as everyone was concerned about the wicked current.  It was pretty messy and more than a few near collisions.  We got to the top mark in the middle of the fleet and went to set a furled gennaker for the short downwind leg, but we had a few technical difficulties and only went part way up and stuck, so we had to take it back down.  Not good.  We rounded the leeward mark in the back of the pack and then proceeded to sail upwind at a much slower pace than the fleet.  We could not figure out what was wrong -  we thought we were caught on a lobster pot or dragging some debris or something as we were going about 6 knots and everyone else was doing 7.5.  We never figured out the problem -  but we continued to sail slow until we made a sail change to a smaller jib and finally began to move.  At the Isla Marcouf mark 35 miles down the track we were already well behind and wondering what bus hit us. 

However, we set our A-3 gennaker at started smoking downhill across the English Channel towards Isle of Wight.    We passed three boats and were feeling  a bit better.  We entered the solent at daybreak and had a very fast and cool passage around the Isle of Wight and past the famed Cowes with a big tide behind us.  However, when we re-entered the channel by the Needles,  the wind went right on the nose and the seas were short, steep and stacked closely, making for a very nasty passage southward in the English channel.  After a long night of upwind sailing in 20 knots of wind and bad seas,  I was ready to go home.  But daybreak comes and things look better.  The wind abated and we had a great sail down to the southern tip of England. 

While we do seem to be at the back of the pack, our spirits are ok, as we are learning about a brand new boat that has not been sailed at all, so there will be a learning curve.  Let's hope we move up it quickly! 

Break - more to follow -
Joe Harris 

(Photos courtesy of

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