Scott Cavanough is pursuing his dream of competing in the Mini Transat, a race across the Atlantic in a 6.5 metre yacht. He has financed the project himself. He arrived in France just over a month ago and this is how he has handled the first month and his first solo race.
by Scott Cavanough
A lot has happened since arriving in France just over a month ago. With many hurdles to climb like in the first week getting the boat released from customs I was told they wanted a 28,000 euro bond while the boat was in Europe then after the weekend it had changed to just getting the container to go via Brest on the way to Port la Foret so that customs could sign the paperwork and check the container. Sign the paper work they did, look inside the container they did not??? Why I don't know but there went some more wasted money on having the truck with container to drive to Brest. We finally unloaded the container in Port la Foret Fouesnant, Hughes Ducrocq and his men there were fantastic who then loaded the boat onto the trailer then we drove 50 minutes north with the 'Queensland the sunshine state' number plate showing proudly. Home for the year is in little town called Douarnenez which has a little mini training scheme with 15 boats, they had been waiting for the Australian guy to show up for a while so they were all very happy to see the boat and another to sail against.
Since losing a week due to customs it left me only two weeks to get the boat back together and get to the first race 180nm miles away. With the fuel cell (hydrogen generator) only just arriving before leaving Douarnenez it made it all very busy. Thank you to Nick and Allison Stump who helped with this contribution. It all went to plan pretty much but I only had one sail in the bay before leaving. On the way to Pornichet where the first race was I had left getting more charts to the last minute and when I went to the shop it had closed and was Easter so getting one in Lorient when I stopped was not happening. I had one chart (very large scale) that was given to me with a X marked in the bay of Pornichet and as I was sailing from Lorient to Pornichet with another mini Emma Creighton in 574 so I figured I would be ok anyway I stepped ahead of the other mini which happens to be Tommy Braidwood's old boat. When I entered the bay it was quite windy about 20knts I saw some navigation lights and headed for them. I entered the harbour which had not even enough room to tack inside. Then tied up then called my training partner from Douarnenez Thibault he asked me where I was as he was waiting for me, when I told him I had arrived he said no I haven't then when I looked at the sign on the dock I was like yeah you're right, I'll see you tomorrow we both laughed and said how crazy as no one would ever sail a mini into there as it was too small. Word got around pretty quickly everyone laughed but was also surprised I got in and out. When I finally arrived in Pornichet I had measurement session to contend with and the measurer Joel Gate who is very good and thorough. We just scarped through with a few things to fix for the next race, I was a little disappointed that we had to reduce the cant for the large angle test which now means adding more weight to the bulb so we can get back to full cant again.
When race day finally arrived a 300 nautical mile race solo I was not feeling 100% and was already exhausted before the race began as we had run out of time to get the boat ready. The start line was pretty busy with 77 boats on the start line I got out in one piece and was at the first mark just outside the top ten I got the spinnaker up then the wind died and did circles before I knew it the big spin was turning me around head on into the next pack of 40 boats, it quickly came down then tried to turn back around again which I did just as the pack surrounded me so before I knew I had dropped quite a few places. We reached backed and forth before we were onto the next mark. When night fell we had thunderstorms and at the time around I was around 20 other boats I was expecting carnage but the wind never came just a lot of rain which turned it into a very cold night, I was wearing all I had onboard (2 bottom layers and a mid layer) and was still cold. The next day was a very long upwind from Belle Ille to Les Sables d'Olonne. Sailing into Les Sables I was very unsure of the area as there was lots of lights in the background and the turning mark was very hard to find, I lost a few boats here. I finally turned around hoisted the kite and then the wind died early in the morning and the parking lot opened. On day two was very light I managed to gain a few places only to drop them later when I had a big lift then went around the outside of Belle Ille apparently no one does that, lack of local knowledge. I lost quite a few places here was really disappointed that I didn't find out more info on the area before the start. After going around Ille de Groix off Lorient it was time to head back to Pornichet about 40nm from the finish the parking lot opened again for a few hours which I laid on the deck and fell asleep for a while. I eventually finished at 2330 that night after 3 days 10 hours feeling very exhausted but happy to have finished. We finished 41st in the fleet and 16th in the prototype division a little further back then I would have liked but in the lighter conditions of the race we really suffered not having a good big spinnaker as the one we have is an old sports boat spinnaker which is not ideal and we also had no boat speed working so I had no idea all race if I was in tide or not which in a area with 5 metre tides it's very important. Though disappointed with the finish more importantly we have started the qualifying for the Mini Transat race in September. Of the four boxes to tick for the Transat qualifying we have now ticked one box, solo race. The next one's to tick off the list are:
One race longer then 500nm
Two races in the class
Total of 1000nm of racing
Then we are Transat Qualified so there is no going into relax mode just yet.
Looking onto the next race's we have a lot on as the races are all very close together and lots more work to do to get the boat with the front runners. Still more electronics to fit with some more gear from Electronics supporters NKE. Thanks again to all the other supporters who have been on side since the beginning.
Bakewell White Yacht Design
That’s all for now till next time,
Hoisting the mainsail under tow - Pornichet Select - scott cavanough
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1:30 AM Mon 9 May 2011 GMT
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