The Windy One – Leg 1

By Mary Rook


Dear my lovely dedicated followers, many of you may have seen my update from the first leg on Facebook but for those of you who missed it here it is again with a few less spelling mistakes (hopefully). This Leg was an incredibly tough start to the race and many of the top guys couldn’t finish the leg due to gear failure in the epic storm we experienced. What I don’t say is that the first night was as warm and starry and glorious as night sailing can ever be but that was some what diminished by what happened next…. written as I finished in Spain.

Landed! Very happy to be on dry land! Saw 52 knots several times and was above 40 for about 6 hours, biggest waves I have EVER seen. Like tower blocks coming at you from every angle with other waves on top of them, sent to knock you flying off course.
The wind started to build whilst we were on an amazing down wind section, with the small kite up absolutely flying through the waves in 38 knots for about 5 hours before heading upwind for the worst night of my life!

In attempting to reef the mainsail the block at the mast broke and nearly killed me as it went flying out the back. I got fully thrown from side deck twice as in from the steering platform locked in, to upside down on the leeward winch, legs in the water.

Water pouring all over the boat and over me I wished I was in a wetsuit. Downstairs was soaking and a diesel leak from the engine helped kick start my sea sickness (which I have never been before) and maintained for most of the night. I couldn’t go downstairs to get more kit on, go to the toilet or try and fix the computer that had gone crazy with some water damage without instantly gagging. It was dark and with the pouring rain you couldn’t see further than 5m and my back up navigation iPad wouldn’t respond to my soaked fingers so I just headed south not knowing where anyone else was. There were plenty of hallucinations, absolutely convinced that there was someone else on board I kept trying to hand off responsibility and then realising it was just me.

My absolute favourite moment was lying on leeward side but inside the cockpit vomming, mostly on self and the boat went into an enormous roll. I did a summersault out of the boat but gripping on for life with one hand, bend my fingers back and not totally sure but felt like dislocated two of them.

Nursing them for the last day and performing a one handed jib peel was especially fun. The finish was then in the early hours of Wednesday and the wind completely died leaving us tacking around in the dark trying to find the finish boat which had the most pathetic flashing light in a sea of orange lights. I got to what I thought was the line but as I got close realised it was not the mark but another boat and had to turn downwind to the line and finally crossed but the race committee told me I had gone the wrong side and I had to cross a further two times before they accepted that I had gone the right way but in the process lost two further positions.

Quite frustrating but intensely relieved to be onshore and life is so much better with steak and chips in your tummy. Now for lots of sleep and getting lots of attention from the race Doctor lady will be going for a Spanish X-ray tomorrow morning.

Love to all Mx

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