As I sit down the night before the start of my 3rd solitaire du Figaro I am extremely happy to see how far I have come, how much I have learnt and to be here on the start line for another year.
A tough 4 leg battle of attrition, the solitaire really is the best way to learn offshore sailing. Every time I race I learn monumental amounts about racing, my self and the areas we race around.
Its been 8 days since the pro log so I am very keen and exited to be back out racing tomorrow.
the first leg of the race this year takes us straight north from Deauville to a mark off the south coast of England, Owers buoy. We then tackle the south coast of the uk all the way to wolf rock just off lands end before returning back along the south coast and entering in through the East Solent to finish off the Royal Yacht Squadron line.
Forecast for this leg is not looking straight forward, with a ridge passing the fleet fairly early on after the start we will be in confused and tricky light airs. The key will be to find the new wind as fast as possible and to have a good angle to head in to Owers. This will the be followed by an increasing wind up to around 30-35 at its max in 2 meter seas. with a couple of fronts passing over on our leg west to wolf rock there will be a few shifts and tidal headland effects to keep us entertained with some good opportunities to attack.
At the moment on the way back east from wolf rock to the IOW the wind seems to be moderating and getting tricky again , with some potential for playing local thermal effects along the English coast.
For me this is a great event to learn , racing against and alongside some of the best offshore sailors in the world means that if your not pushing, sailing cleverly or fast then you will get left behind. My aim is to keep pushing hard, playing the odds and sailing sensibly with the information and knowledge I have gained from sailing at the Pole Finistere Course au large this year.
As for who to watch, this year the top slot is open with Jérémie Beyou and Yan Ellies away preparing for their vendee glob events and many top sailors been present this year with the return of some strong sailors and many existing figarests sailing fast in the 2016 season so far.. I think the field is open and will be an interesting one.