04 Oct Rewind on Rolex Fasnet: amazing adventure and stunning performance for FdS!
We were very proud to support the 8 FdS team sailors, including Thomas Chabrol, entrepreneur, Cube Rénovations manager and client with Fifty Bees, who delivered the story of the race, just and only for you!
A few words about the pre-race
The thing is that the boat has to be brought where the race is due to begin… Conveving the boat from Cherbourg to Cowes goes well. The route being well knoaw by the team, it becomes the opportunity to recover the rythm of watches.
Mid-day arrival on Cowes after 12h sailing and an almost ready boat. Focus, within the last hours, on weather forecast and the several potential scenarios: it all begins now!
A sharp start
Here we are: mandatory check by the race committee boat, life jackets and longes clearly visible. Cape sail and storm jib are hoisted: security is a priority, carefully controlled by organizers.
Zig zag around the start line and close look to the best position to cross it. A5 ready, which will be hoisted right after having crossed the start line. Well installed wind and good stream, which compels the competitors not to come too close to the start line without risking smashing the line before the starting gun! Unique occasion as well to admire the biggest boats in the world: the team comes accross multihulls, Imocas and other dream boats. Just magic!
3,2,1, starting bang : FdS runs well placed. They’re off for 4 days of racing !
Thomas is number 1 for the forward sail first change. Yann is steering. Franck is in charge of the strategy. Fred and Oliver are crewmen. Sophie is rolling cameras and shooting pictures.
Solent and exit towards the Channel
The river named « le Solent » is a zone of strong currents. Dangerous because of sandbanks, it is a navigation area where anything can happen: the best and the worst!
The boat sails in the zones where it hopes to take best advantage of downdraft. The team knows that a first level crossing will come along quickly after crossing the Needles, with a meteo transition which may cause a high slack.
Where to go? Towards the coast? Offshore?
FdS finally choose an intermediary route.
Strategy goes out well so far: the team runs in good position at the front of the peloton. Crossing Scilly Islands and beginning to sail towards the Fastnet, i.e. 150 miles one way approx.
The boat, though idealistically conceived for downwind sailing, behaves quite well close to the wind and works his way gradually from its competitors.
20 knots, upwind. Weather conditions strenghthen and seas are frequently shipped and will accompany the team throughout the crossing of the Irish Sea. Boat and team are getting more and more wet. Continuous water buckets outflow and stop of any attempt to dry clothes. The team will remain wet until the arrival…
Then comes the Irish Sea and its change of scenery. Long swell, full of luminous plankton. Dark night. Watches follow in sequence, carving dark circles under the crewmen’s eyes.
Crossing Fastnet lighthouse by 1 a.m. in the night from Sunday to Monday.
FdS are 13th and moving towards the top ten group…
The story, the REAL one, begins just one hour later!
Subject to major efforts, the boom comes loose from the mast and flaps like a sail heading wind. Situation immediately under control without panic. After having taken noticed and once organized, the team manages to put the boom back in place within less than an hour.
Problem when hoisting the mainsailwhich suffered from the damage and is severely torn ! Sewing workshop for 2 (long) hours in order to try to repare it with a wind at 25 knots, rough sea and rain… Unfortunately impossible to hoist it again despite the efforts : damages are too serious. It will not cope with the weather conditions the boat is sailing with.
The team never gives up, here lies their strength : they keep on with the cape sail ! Still better than nothing… Back to the route towards Scilly Island. An asymetrical spi is hoisted… This time, , the halyard breaks without notice! The team knew itw as worn out… New handicap in the race, though.
Bad surprise never travels alone: the computer board switches off once and for all……
The team faces this series of incidents, all unexpected – These breakages are usual, no competitor will ever live a Fastnet escaping from them. No sign of stress, tiredness or tension. Helping and taking care of each other in a constant goog mood. This is part of the natural state of mind of the team: unfailing solidarity!
Last curve towards Plymouth
This series of occurrences caused the team to drop down many spots in the standings, 21st approx. when back in the race.
Unwavering concentration of the skipper. FdS crosses the Scilly Islands DST on a perfect route. The team will at last be able to hoist this time a symetrical spi. Cross sea, tough steering but a great surfing opportunity for the boat !
FdS manages to win 2 spots before crossing the finish line and ranks 19th after 4 days racing. The so much fantasized race fueled the legend once more with 23 who abandoned the race and many damages for each and every team.
FdS team comes out happy and more motivated than ever: they strive for a top ten ranking on next edition!
Fifty Bees keeps its fingers crossed: we’ll be there!
Congrats’ to you all!!
(And many thanks to Thomas Chabrol for all of the race details)