It’s almost two weeks now since I finished the Pornichet Select 6.50 2014 – my first race of the year.
The week before the race was pretty relaxed so I reserved the entire friday (day before the start) to prepare my navigation and to compile a roadbook with all the relevant information about the course.
Early start on saturday then with a final briefing and weather report, handing in the mobile phone and we were already being towed out of the marina.
I spent the two hours before the start of the race with calibrating the apparent wind angle, preparing the big spinnaker and eating something. We also had to change the satellite tracker on my boat as the previous one was not working.
10 minutes before the start the wind died down completely and with a bit of delay we were sent off in a downwind start. I was starting in the first line and while sailing the course along the beach I was in the top 10.
After leaving the bay of Pornichet (La Baule) we started tacking our way up the coast to west when my autopilot started behaving a bit weird tacking by itself. It turned out that my boatspeed sensor was broken and was delivering more or less random values between -12 and +20 knots of boatspeed. When the values were negative the pilot tried to be smart and turn the rudder the other way around which didn’t really help.
After a couple of hours of rock-hopping along the coast we now had to head offshore towards Belle Île and I decided to go neither with the first group nor the second group but to go on my own which didn’t pay.
In the channel between Île de Quiberon and Belle Île I didn’t do too well then. I was on the wrong side of the clocking wind and while trying to fix my pilot lost quite a bit of places.
After rounding the Birvideaux lighthouse north of Belle Île we made our way south.
Since the wind was coming right from behind we gybed our way into the night, me steering by hand all the time getting tired and hungry.
At about 2:30 am on sunday the wind angle was getting too hot for the big spinnaker and I had to change to the Code 5.
Dousing the big kite in increasing winds is not much fun but without a proper pilot this was becoming pretty annoying.
For the n-th time I went through all the configuration settings of my NKE system and finally found the option to switch the pilot to use the speed reported by the GPS instead of the boat speed sensor. That didn’t fix the pilot altogether but at least I now had a pilot that was steering fairly well going upwind and reaching.
The sail change and electronics had cost me 2 miles on the boats ahead of me but now I finally had the right sail up and was going in the right direction with about 6 knots. “Could be worse…” I thought and took a couple of naps to get the spirits back up…
to be continued…
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