Australian Scott Cavanough finished third in the UK Mini Fastnet and further advances his qualifying to compete in the Mini Transat in September.
by Scott Cavanough
As I finally get to relax and reflect on the last two weeks of which 'Skippy' and I sailed 976 nautical miles from our French base of Douarnenez in Brittany to Plymouth then a double handed 561 nautical mile race to Fastnet Rock and Conninberg light then back to Plymouth and then a delivery back to Douarnenez.
The welcome that the mini's received at the Royal Western Yacht Club was fantastic. The race started after a pre race Roast lunch, something I had never done before but was fantastic as the first two days to Fastnet rock was upwind and no matter how hard you try to eat it is something it's very difficult on a small boat climbing up and down large Atlantic swell almost like a roller coaster for 2 days. Your body for a while feels like it wants to jump out of you and swim for shore. The simple things in life like going to the toilet (only a bucket or over the back) or even sleeping are even more trying on such small boat. The sleeping arrangement consists of stacking everything onboard on the windward side placing three spinnakers side by side then crawling into a space of 2 feet by 1 1/2 and just long enough for a body and then trying to sleep while 'Skippy' jumps, skips and slams over waves. We finally arrived at Fastnet Rock just on two days after starting and covered over 250nm in that time not so bad for 6.5m upwind. Turning the corner at Fastnet was fantastic to finally see the rock on my first ever rounding was very rewarding for a very long time I had always wanted to sail around it may not have been the Fastnet race we all know but was great non the less.
When we turned the corner the A2 went up and we were off. As night and the fog in Irish sea fell the breeze increased I stupidly said to my crew James Gair 'I'm not so worried if it doesn't come down in one piece' as this sail I brought from my old boss David Lambourne which it came off one of his 8 mtr sports boats which I even remember being onboard when this kite brought down the mast and well you know what I'm going to say next. It did come down 8 hours later in two piece's but it was a white knuckle ride that night all the way down the Irish Coast in heavy fog to Conninberg Light 120nm VMG run in breeze up to 30 knts, 'Skippy' was on railway tracks all night with it all up full main, jib and the A2 for the most part then the A5 went up and was not much slower. With speeds touching 20knts I think there was some higher speeds but with so much water on deck it was impossible to see the speedo. We only had two round ups through the whole night and the only broken item was the old A2. At the end of this leg all of the hard work that night went too waste as the wind died as we approached the mark and the tide drifted us past it without rounding it. We fought our way back around but by this time the leaders we gone. It is a tribute too all involved in the project from the design team and engineering at Bakewell-White and the boat builder Mark Matthews, it was the hardest I had pushed yet and the boat came through with flying colours and on two legs taking miles from the leading boats. On the leg down to Lands End once we had 'Skippy' going again we were taking miles from the leaders then night fell again and the parking lots were opening and closing regularly on the English coast. The lead boat a brand new Lombard design finished at 4 am we finished 11 hours and finished the race as third Placed Prototype in 3 days 23 hrs 24 mins 54 seconds. Having lost time at Conninberg and time after the start after a bad hoist of the Code 0 I can look back and go there is still lots more to improve and look at the positive's.
The classe mini road show continue's in two weeks from Douarnenez with two races the first the Trophee MAP a 220nm solo race starting on the ninth of June then the Mini Fastnet Race a 600nm double handed race to Fastnet and back. Yes you hear correct I head back out to the rock again in a month the french I guess hate being out done by the English. My crew for this Fastnet race is Jessica Watson as this will be her first Cat 1 yacht race and by far much harder then her planned Sydney to Hobart on a 38 footer she has certainly chosen a tough race to start with. As she has done some sailing on the boat in Australia I am confident that we will finish in style. I have only one more box too tick before I am officially an entrant in this years Mini Transat Race from La Rochelle to Brazil. That is you must do 1000nm of racing within the class I am at 865nm so with finishing the Trophee MAP will see fruition of the previous four years of hard work to get to this stage since I first set my sights on competing in this race. For now it's time too get back to working on 'Skippy' as she's going on a interesting diet no metal as the class allows for dyneema life lines so off are the old ones and I'm sure I'll find plenty more weight to get rid of and more performance out of her.
Till next race.
* Scott grew up sailing from the time he was six years old; sailing sabots, 420’S, 16ft skiffs, Australia lightweight sharpies and the Europe dingy, progressing to larger vessels. Scott has been a full time professional sailor for many years with most of the time spent in Europe and the northern hemisphere. He is aiming to be the first Australian to win the Mini Transat 6.5.
**The Mini Transat 6.5 race is known as one of the most extreme yachting events in the world, this event sees the smallest single-handed offshore class of yacht race across the Atlantic Ocean.
Scott Cavanough website
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12:49 AM Wed 25 May 2011 GMT
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