View of Madeira island
On August 31st at 1630 we started the race. There was a big boat parade down the Southampton bay with dozens of private boats and yachts following us plus the navy ship HMS Intrepid just behind us. The starting line was in front of Cowes on the Island of Wight. The wind was strong, around 20 knots and we started heading east on the Solent.
On the first night the winds got very light. We were off the coast of France and we had to anchor to avoid being pushed back by the tide current. We put out over 100 feet of rode and luckily the anchor set. We hold ground until the tide reversed.
On the Bay of Biscay we met our first depression. This bay is famous for its storms because it is the final destination of most low pressure systems crossing the North Atlantic. For 24 hs we had winds up to 35 knots and waves up to 3 meters. It was not comfortable in the boat! It was the same day that I had to be a mother (galley and cleaning duties) and I felt sick most of the day.
Cape Finisterre marks the southern tip of the Bay of Biscay and we were happy to arrive there. We thought we would not meet another storm until Madeira, but another low pressure system came over. Not as severe as the first one, but we still had 30 knots of wind and big seas. After this storm we had only sunny, warm days and starry nights, downwind sailing with the kite all the way to Madeira. Happy sailing!
We were match racing Visit Finland down the Spanish coast. They decided to stay close to shore while we tacked and headed offshore. They got lifted along the shore and got better wind and gained on us. Later GC headed for the shore also and eventually took over VF. We had two days of light wind and lost position to both of them. Derry was 50 NM behind us and we had to watch out not to lose our 3rd place.
We spent 2 days in Madeira. It is a beautiful volcanic island, with lots of hills and mountains.The airport is built on a gigantic bridge along the water due to the lack of flat space! Their seafood is very good and a famous dish is Espada fish with banana. It is a great place worth a visit when crossing the Atlantic.