This year, to participate in the mini class regattas, it is necessary to enter the waiting lists. There are too many sailors requesting to participate, and the waiting list system is the most democratic way they have found to give everyone a chance to participate.
Puru Trasgascogne is the last race of the season, divided into two stages, less than two months apart. However, I didn’t have access to this regatta. No problem. It’s an opportunity to get some good solo training. The route is designed to have the best conditions, covering 700 miles around the Gulf of Gascony.
Optimized course. The boat is set for the transatlantic, and off I go. The significant load of supplies, food, and water for the transatlantic has made the boat quite different from what I’m used to. I set off close-hauled to gain miles to the northwest. The goal is to enjoy a nice downwind or broad reach to test the conditions for the transatlantic. Starting with 20 knots close-hauled, the sea is rough due to an old weather system. The boat is heavy because of all the supplies, food, and water I’ll need for the transatlantic. It’s heavy and twitchy, and I don’t like it. I immediately start feeling seasick. This is a new condition for me. I needed to test this too and take measurements before the real departure, where there will be no margin for error.
The nausea doesn’t improve, but I’m learning to manage it, taking measurements and taking care of myself and the boat. Sometimes you have to do your best with what you have. I know seasickness is influenced by many factors. Some of these, like stress, sleep, nutrition, and staying warm and dry, are things I can control and must take care of. It will pass, sooner or later. Meanwhile, the boat sails fast, although a bit twitchy on the waves due to all the weight. I gain towards the northwest before changing tack and heading towards Cape Finisterre. The day is marked by tacking, adjusting the sails, and trying to stay dry despite occasional rain.
Finally, the seasickness passes. And shortly after, it’s time to change to a faster sail configuration, using the Code 0. Finally, we’re having fun. But I celebrate too early. The wind is not stable in direction, and reaching the next waypoint requires many sail changes. No problem, it’s all training. After all, that’s why we’re here. In the meantime, I discover that the increased speed favors the onboard load. Great news for the upcoming transatlantic. The boat is sailing fast, and in less than a day, I find myself at Cape Finisterre, ready to change course again and head to the penultimate waypoint.
Finally, running downwind. The wind picks up, 15-18-20 knots. Just what we were looking for. We need to get familiar with these conditions, as they will accompany us for many days during the transatlantic. It increases to 20-22-24 knots. The boat, with the spinnaker up and the weight well-organized, performs amazingly. The autopilot works flawlessly, and the boat speeds along at 13-15 knots. What a spectacle. A gust reaches 26 knots, and we hit 16 knots of speed occasionally. I’m amazed. The autopilot handles it effortlessly, and the boat glides through the water without a hitch. I can enjoy the sound of the water caressing the hull. The boat is in perfect harmony, and the sound of the water becomes a roar. It’s delightful. I can even afford a few minutes of rest because the sensations and confidence the boat conveys are excellent.
Even the last waypoint is now behind us, and the boat sails delightfully towards the harbor. Just a few miles left. The seasickness of the first days is now a distant memory. Confidence in the vessel has grown even more, and having only broken one elastic that was holding the bowsprit during 700 miles of navigation in all conditions truly inspires confidence for the transatlantic. We’re ready. Some final touches to be done on board. Still much study on weather and navigation to do, but we’re prepared and set off with the awareness of being there to compete with the best. To play for the podium.