It's been light going so far but Puma Logic is well up in the fleet
There was a lot to get organised on Puma Logic before we could set sail on one of the most prestigious and challenging races in yacht racing – the Rolex Fastnet Race. Her inshore racing team had been sailing on the Reflex 38 on Saturday 6 August to finish off a successful week at Skandia Cowes Week. With preparations finally completed by early morning and after a short but restful sleep, our crew of nine sailed to Cowes for the start, nervous but raring to go.
Our skipper, Philippe Falle gave us a motivational talk and still basking in the glory of our class win in the RORC Channel Race, we were feeling confident. Philippe said: “Some people think it puts the pressure on, but I think it takes the pressure off – so let’s go out on this race and really enjoy it.”
Our start gun went at 1140 after Class 3 and 2. It was a nice day with the sun shining and a light northerly breeze of around 4 knots. Tension was high with the headsail up as we tacked back and forth, dodging other boats. Even I had my own PRT – Pre Race Tension, proving it isn’t only the skipper that shouts!
Across the line and we were off with the kite up. The winds were fickle north-north easterlies that we really had to work to keep the speed up. We were hustling for the clean air with boats such as Braveheart and Maverick II, while Skandia Wild Thing charged past. Remaining inshore as most of the fleet headed south, we waited for the sea breeze to kick in from the west and hoisted the headsail, beating towards Weymouth, tacking onto starboard after doing a peel from the lightweight to the heavyweight genoa.
By late afternoon we were still getting our westing in before the wind began to swing around to the north again, racing the clock to try to reach Portland Bill before the tidal gate closed.
Moving into our watch system we voted to have four hours on and off throughout the night and six hours on and off during the day. Headed by watch leader and navigating king Mark – it was the Sharks vs the Piranhas – which is lead by the bow wonder woman Sara. And then there’s the skipper who floats around with ruffled hair and mind absorbed in tactics, until our boat speed is down and then we get a quick reminder that this is a race not a cruise!
After midnight we hoisted the spinnaker as the wind was veering to the north at about 13 knots, and kept the speed around 7.5knots, except for periods when the wind dropped. It was a gorgeous night for sailing with the stars out. By morning we realised we’re up with the best of them as we saw Magnum just quarter of a mile north of us. It’s a beautiful sunny Monday morning, with the kite still up and the wind around 12 knots. Now we’re 20 miles from the Lizard and things are looking good. And on that note I’ll end with this quote from crewman Richard who asked; “What is the Lizard?” And Philippe replied: “It’s a bit like a snake but it has legs!”
Picture by Philippe Falle: Magnum astern of us.