Today marks the first start in the 2017 Classe Figaro Bénéteau Championship. The Offshore Academy’s Hugh Brayshaw and Mary Rook will line up against 22 fellow competitors at the start of the Solo Normandie race in Granville, France. The line-up includes fellow Brit and Academy Alumni Alan Roberts (Seacat Services), recent Vendee Globe skipper Yann Elies (Queguiner-Leucémie Espoir), and 2016 class Champion Charlie Dalin (Skipper Macif 2015)
With a scheduled start time of mid-day, the sailors can expect 36hrs of intense racing on a challenging 260-mile course, negotiating multiple tidal races and currents around the Channel Islands and south western English Channel. With the current weather forecast for high winds Rook and Brayshaw will be in for an uncomfortable first night experiencing wind speeds hitting 30kts and waves of 2.5 meters.
Mary Rook – Skipper: Inspire+ commented “We have a lot of wind forecast for the first night which is not my preferred conditions, especially as it is the first race of the season. At this time of the year the nights are still very long so there will be a lot of sailing in the dark, on the bright side I’m looking forward to lining up against some very talented competitors.”
“Saturday is looking pretty breezy so I think my birthday celebrations will have to be put on hold until the finish!!” Rook will experience her 2nd solo Birthday at sea, last year she was racing a similar race from Concarneau. “I’ve just come back from some fully crewed offshore racing, and the boat will seem awfully quiet on my own, but I’m looking forward to being back out there, I prefer the lighter conditions, but we’ve got what we’ve got and we’ll all be out there taking it on in the same conditions. My focus will be keeping the boat and sails in one piece, after that we’ll see what tactical options open up for us.”
Hugh Brayshaw – Skipper: Offshore Academy “It’s a relief to be back preparing for a race, I feel a lot more relaxed about being out sailing solo compared to this time last year – your rookie year is always a super steep learning curve, it’s great to back into it again, with that experience behind me. However, the standard of competition in this fleet is very high as always and it is a great opportunity to race against and learn from the best in the business. I’m looking forward to some heavy airs downwind sailing and confident that I’m ready to adapt to what these unpredictable races often throw at us.” Talking about his objectives for the race Brayshaw continued “It’s the first race of the year, I want to get my racing head back in to gear, and finish knowing that I’ve done the best I can. I’m light on training time so far this year, so for me this is an extended training race – the Solitaire in June is my focus”
With strong winds forecast, the Normandie Race Committee have selected a course finishing in Cherbourg with the option to shorten the race should conditions deteriorate: