Saskia meets the Figaro Solitaire

Basse PortsallAmoco Cadiz - 16/3/1978

On Sunday 9th June, Rima and I enjoyed the company of Cherbourg Yacht Club crews during a delightful BBQ on the terrace organised by Amanda and superbly cooked by our Commodore Steve and his wife Josie.

The forecast for Tuesday was looking dire so we decided to set sail that afternoon for L' Aberwrach to get ahead of the weather system. We left in light winds and motored overnight, unfortunately our fuel gauge decided to pack up and we were unsure how much diesel we were using. Thanks to Normandie Wine in Cherbourg and their courier Steve Fraser in Aliya we were stocked up with wine; unfortunately I have yet to master the miracle of turning wine into diesel.

We arrived in L'Aberwrach 7 pm Monday. In the early hours of Tuesday morning the wind turned nuclear, 60 knot gusts making the walk to the shower block the next morning a full Goretex adventure. The forecast for Wednesday was a decreasing northerly, so we decided to set sail for Camaret. As we approached Portsall cardinal which marks the infamous Portsall rocks where the Amoco Cadiz foundered some years ago, we were surprised to see the Figaro fleet heading towards the cardinal, which they were using as a leeward mark.

We watched as the leader Adrien Hardy rounded the mark and expertly dropped his spinnaker in a manner that would be the envy on a fully crewed IRC yacht. The new Figaro 3's are a 33 ft foiling yacht capable of averaging 15-20 knots. Such speeds were only previously achieved by Imoca 60's. We marvelled at how these yachts survived let alone raced 500 miles in such a storm. Adrien Hardy is a tough sailor who specialises in rescuing stricken offshore racing yachts in dire conditions; clearly his heavy weather experience paid off on this leg.

After we watched the Figaro spectacular, spinnakers aloft, we made our way down the Chenal du Four to Camaret, where we are taking a few days rest before tackling the Raz de Sein on passage to Southern Brittany and beyond.

Submitted on Friday, 14th June