Tom Braidwood says he's learnt lessons from Leg one of Mini Transat and is looking forward to the next 27/9/07

Tom Braidwood, one of the two Australian entries in the Transat 6,50 Charente-Maritime/Bahia, finished the first leg into Funcal, Madeira late on Monday night, in 26th place.

Now recovered from the exciting blast down the coast from La Rochelle, Braidwood is preparing for the second leg which starts in just over a week’s time (6 October).

Commenting on the first leg Braidwood said:”Well that was the best sailing I have ever done. From the top disengagement mark after the start it was down wind all the way to Funchal.

“We had 12 to 23 knots of wind with a few gusty times of hi 20s.
The Wombat did a great job and we had no breakages at all. The only job is to replace the batteries which before the start I thought would be ok but I found myself having to charge about 4 to 5 times a day. Unfortunately I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped and can only look into the mirror to find the reason.

“The first night I thought I was pushing hard enough with the medium mast head spinnaker up but unfortunately I lost some miles here so I guess I should of been more on the edge with the big shoot. I felt I sailed well to and around Finisterre but the first 12 hours after Finisterre we had some of the fastest reaching I have ever done. I had up the fractional spinnaker, one reef in the jib and one reef in the main, hitting 17 plus knots constantly with ease. I think the more experienced Mini sailors really taught us some lessons here and managed to open up the gap.

“From here is was about getting round on the high pressure where there are not to many passing lanes. I opted for a wider route hoping some of the others would be to close to the Hi and get sucked up in lighter conditions. Unfortunately the gains weren’t there but no losses either. The last 20 miles to the finish had us hard running with the big shoot up with big gusts accelerating down the cliffs of Madeira. I was definitely at the limit with the amount of sail I had up but I had two other Minis in close range and we were all just waiting for the other boat to either break down or wipe out. It was a pretty intense few hours with no way of leaving the helm to get the shoot off even if I’d wanted to.

“I finished at 2336 and managed to knock off another Mini before the finish. It was amazing to finish my first leg and then to see my two girls waiting for me on the dock. I do believe I can get more out of myself and the boat for the next leg to Brazil.

“There’s 20hours between me and first place which will be hard gain but with only 4 hours to get into the top ten makes top ten an achievable aim. This race has been a dream of mine since I was about 13 and it is awesome to be here, finally competing with these guys, so far been some of the best sailing I have ever experienced.”