With two intense days of coastal racing completed off the coast of Les Sables-d’Olonne the 40 boat Figaro fleet will this afternoon commence the challenging offshore stage of the 2017 Solo Maitre Coq.
Leading the British contingent Academy alumni Alan Roberts on-board Seacat Services has had a good run of results so far in the competition, currently sitting in 18th position. Returning to the Figaro for his first event of 2017, Academy skipper Will Harris taking the reins of Offshore Academy is looking forward to getting into an offshore rhythm and improving his current position of 27th: “The short coastal races of the last few days have been hard, it’s a tough fleet with even some of the most seasoned sailing legends struggling. I’m on a different Academy boat to last year and added to having so little time training this year, the finer details are not quite so natural as before, this has made it a little harder to stay at the front. None the less it’s great fun to be out here competing in such close racing again and I am looking forward to the longer course!”
After the coastal, day racing format the Offshore Academy skippers will be looking forward to stretching their legs on the longer course and getting into an offshore routine: Mary Rook, Inspire+ summed up her thoughts for the offshore stage and the past few days of competition “I’m looking forward to this bit, I like the offshore course element of this event, it's interesting and there’s plenty of fun things to play with; rocks, tidal influence and islands. It's been great close racing against so many other boats this week, unfortunately a jury decision against me has been disappointing and my overall ranking doesn't reflected my true potential in the current overall result, but I know I'm competing well, at least over a few hours of racing, I'm hopeful for some fun racing against the fleet over a longer course, and working on my skills over the multi day race, and for the good result that I know I am capable of.”
A variety of wind conditions will test the skippers over the next 60 hours as they navigate the 350-mile course. Starting in around 10 knots of breeze the fleet can expect a gentle downwind start – the first night could cause some upsets with the forecast of 30kts followed by a calm night after evening two where “Anything could happen": as Mary Rook puts it. With lots of weather fronts and ridges moving through the race area the skippers are in for a challenging time.
Track our sailors taking part here