After a short week of preparation in the harbour of Douarnenez west of Brittany, the Blood Red-sponsored crew of Argos Managers (a.k.a. Edouard Blondel and Pierre Ebert) started their sailing adventure–the first major race of the season:
The Mini Fastnet: a tactical challenge
Our first checkpoint was Wolf Rock, a lonely lighthouse off the coast of Cornwall. We needed to make our way through the treacherous Chenal du Four and cross the English Channel.
We tried to keep up with the rest of the fleet but the wind increased and we were quickly left behind. Similarly to our previous race, at nightfall we could not see any of our competitors on the horizon. We did not despair; we knew the race was far from over.
The passage of the Chenal du Four by night was not easy: it was difficult to distinguish the numerous lighthouses and a strong headwind forced us to constantly change direction. In the morning, the wind decreased and it took us an entire day to cross the English Channel and reach Wolf Rock.
Mission accomplished: 007 rounded the Fastnet!
As we sailed between the Scilly Islands and the Longships lighthouse, we happily noticed a competitor behind us. We were no longer last!
Unfortunately, the mini 741 overtook us in the evening. 007 started its long crossing of the Irish Sea. The wind was strong, blowing at 25-30 knots (40-45 km/h) and we were sailing close to the wind. This was not a very comfortable crossing, Argos Managers violently smashed into each wave and the deck was often flooded with water. We were exhausted, soaked from head to foot and the sun refused to come out. We were therefore very happy to see the green coast of Ireland.
We were so tired that we mistook a buoy for another and spent the afternoon sailing back the way we came. We also learned that one of the other yachts of the fleet had abandoned the race because it had broken its mast in the heavy seas further south.
After following the southern coast of Ireland, we finally reached the legendary Fastnet lighthouse, the holy grail of the offshore sailing world. We now had only one desire: to sail home as fast as possible and catch up with the rest of the fleet.
A long crossing of the Celtic Sea
Carried by a strong swell, we started our descent towards Brittany at full speed. Unfortunately, as the strong wind gave place to a feeble breeze, we slowly made our way towards the finish line. This was not however the end of our adventures.
In the middle of the Celtic Sea, a lost and slightly desperate pigeon landed on our yacht. This unexpected guest accompanied us for a hundred miles, before flying away to an unknown destination.
As we arrived off the island of Ouessant, a dense fog came upon us. We were slightly worried as we entered an area of intense cargo traffic with little visibility. We overcame this last challenge without too many difficulties and arrived in Douarnenez after seven days at sea.
This major race has taught us a great deal, and we are proud to have overcome this challenge, especially as the youngest crew sailing the oldest yacht. We believe that the key to our success was our united and resilient crew.
Our primary goal was to go beyond our comfort zone but also to make it back home. Mission accomplished!
Our next race: the Transgascogne
We sailed Argos Managers to Port Bourgenay in the Vendée region (France), the starting point of our next race: the Transgascogne 2015. The Transgascogne is a 600 miles long race (1100 km), which will take us from Vendée to Spain. We will cross the famous Bay of Biscay, passing by Belle-Ile in Brittany.
Unlike the Mini-Fastnet, we will enjoy a few days of rest in Spain before the second leg of the race. We look forward to taking part in this new challenge and would like to thank our sponsors which make this new adventure possible.