The One With The Painful Finish Line – Leg 3

By Mary Rook |


Dear fantastic followers here is my previously unpublished breakdown of Leg 3. This was very hard to write and I hope shows a little about just how cruel sailing can be…


Leg 3 started off on a beautiful windy, sunny day in Concarneau bay, jam packed with spectator boats and people out having a lovely time on boats. The start line set at an unconventional reaching angle to the wind, created quite the flappy chaos with all 43 boats jostling for position, lined up three boats deep and  we went off at a fast angle with plenty of shouting and screaming in the strong gusty 17 knots.



After a few miles fetching out of the bay I was in a great position rounding the mark and hoisting our kites, we had a glorious downwind 80 mile leg stretching out before us with a great swell, perfect breeze and sunshine on our backs.  It was absolutely amazing surfing down the waves and catching the boats ahead.


The sun set and we rounded the mark and headed back upwind, I didn’t quite realize how windy it had got and was on the wrong rig setting and although rectified as quickly as possible I wasn’t fast and in the big waves sailed badly out of the blocks and lost some distance.


I struggled in the darkness to get the hang of the conditions and my usual spidey sense about how to play the fleet and even how I am doing against the others and thus what mode to work the boat in, just doesn’t work in the dark. Setting up the autopilot is very important and so you can regularly check the computer for boat speed updates and with lights from boats and rocks everywhere it was impossible to know who had tacked and who was who. I suffered and cursed the darkness and as the course turned into a follow my leader reach I had hemorrhaged places.


Already grumpy I was really miffed to suddenly be going noticeable a knot slower than usual and on inspection of the rudders with my brilliantly blindingly bright exposure trim torch I found one of the most enormous yellow phlegmy looking jellyfishes draped around my steering appendage! I gave it a poke with my weed-stick but it really didn’t want to shift! In the end I had to lie down at the back of the boat with two hands gripping onto the shaking weed-stick thrusting it off! Wonder if he lived? I suspect a major headache at the very least!


As the sun rose the rest of the course stretched out on a long upwind leg into the finish but as the land warmed the gradient breeze started to fade.  I was desperately tacking to try and get out of the adverse tide and trying to outwit the group around me. Earlier in the leg I decided I was sleeping too much and needed to sail more to be better, so by the morning I was struggling hard to make an intelligent decisions and kept doubting myself and doing neither of the tactical options before me. Losing on the boats around me, I saw another group from mile behind had made a huge jump around us not tacking in the rocks but staying offshore and getting into better pressure. I tried to fend them off as well and creeping into the finishing straight the water was horribly glassy. Drifting in trying to tack and keep the boat going was agony and just 50 meters from the line I watched as another 7 boats who had been behind for the entirety of the whole 200 mile race, just pass by. I finally drifted through the line in absolute fury swearing off sailing, promising to never sail ever again.


Sailing is a cruel and horrible sport at times and watching the tracker later of the winners crossing the line in beautiful breeze the unjustness of it all was overwhelming. All the hours of hard work and battling was just completely wasted and if I had just gone downstairs and had an hour of sleep that night I would have probably had a far better result. A long rest and some alternative career planning later I started to feel a bit better. But I can’t say I am exactly keen to start leg 4….


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