Nick Bubb sailing Kenmore Property Group/John Merricks Sailing Trust has taken a creditable sixth overall in the Transgascogne

After the dramatic 300-mile match race in the first leg of the Transgascogne between Fred Duthil and Jonathan McKee, the 70-boat Mini fleet departed Gijon in perfect sea breeze conditions, with a downwind blast predicted for the second leg direct to Port Bourgenay. Nick Bubb sailing Kenmore Property Group/John Merricks Sailing Trust led at the first mark but eventually had to settle for eighth on that leg and sixth overall.

Bubb chatted about the race: “It was a short two-mile beat after the start to one of the committee’s laid marks. We were in great shape going up there but some guys had obviously not seen the flag on the start boat and totally ignored the mark! Tobias Hochreutener was in front going round but we were soon passed him on the next leg and were in the lead bunch with Duthil, McKee, Degsell and Tripon all under kite. The sea breeze was dying pretty quickly as we moved offshore into the transition zone where the gradient breeze dominates. The wind kicked in as a front moved across the fleet in the evening bringing a solid 25-knot breeze gusting to 30 knots from the west and generating increasingly large waves.

“It was perfect reaching weather for a Mini. Most of those guys opted for their Code Zeros at that point but I have got a really good flat fractional kite and decided to go with that instead. It was perfect but I had my hands full! I couldn’t do anything else but sail the boat flat out to maintain control. I had both hands on the tiller and was pumping the kite sheet with my foot! We were surfing on the waves brilliantly – the boat was consistently doing 13 knots for 5 hours topping out at 15 on the bigger waves. It was an interesting situation in the pitch black but I am glad it went well because I haven’t done much of that this season on my own!

“We were charging along and I covered 80 miles in 6 hours from Saturday night to early Sunday morning. All the masthead lights I could see had dropped well astern of us and we were really in with a race winning opportunity at that point. Unfortunately I could see lights starting to emerge on the horizon. There were so many of them it looked like your average coastline, which was pretty scary! I knew it couldn’t be any kind of real estate though and I kept going straight down the track. As I got closer I could see more and more – there were about 25 fishing boats in total all going along in formation.

“That’s when the alarm bells start ringing because they could be doing anything. I was pretty worried because I had seen this type of team fishing in the Med before where they string gear between the boats. These were evenly spaced about 100m apart. That is a pretty small gap when you are doing 14 knots in the pitch black on your own! Even then if they have got gear between the boats you are looking at a full on pitchpole situation if you hit that at speed.

“I thought it was going to be OK but as I got closer it was really hard to tell what gear they might be using. On top of that all the fishing boats were doing a slow circle motion in formation, which meant finding a safe route through was really difficult. I decided not to risk the boat, as we have been really consistent this season by not taking undue risks. This close to the Transat I didn’t want to risk damaging the boat so I turned round and had to sail for 90 mins in totally the wrong direction which must have cost me 20 miles on the fleet at least. By the time I got the kite back up the wind was clocking round to the north and it wasn’t long before I had to put the gennaker up for a tight reach to Port Bourgenay. There were no passing lanes after that in a dying breeze.

“Overall I am very happy with the way my solo offshore experience is building. Of course it is incredibly frustrating to be doing so well and the come across something like that fishing fleet but it is all part of the learning experience. I could have taken the risk but decided not to, it wasn’t worth risking the boat.”

Bubb managed to take eighth place on this leg and sixth place overall in the Transgascogne in addition to victory in the prologue race. After a good rest, Bubb will set sail in Kenmore/JMST to Cowes Week for promotional activity and sail testing before returning to France to await the final decision on entry to the Mini-Transat in September. Kenmore/JMST has moved up to third on the reserve list.

Results (Leg 2)

1st Tripon Armel 151 Moulin Roty 23:30:04

2nd Mc Kee Jonathan 247 Team Mc Lube 23:45:20

3rd Degsell Eskill 429 Classic 00:35:37

4th Duthil Frédéric 265 All Mer 00:51:50

5th De Lamotte Tanguy 424 SET Environnement 01:05:22

6th Cuinet François 139 Réglisse 01:20:30

7th Mumbru Jaime 385 Port de Barcelona 03:22:53

8th Bubb Nick 419 Kenmore/JMST 03:26:25