Monday, August 25, 2008

For Your Monday Morning

Corentin Douguet (E. Leclerc / Bouygues Telecom) – first words from the winner of a 560 mile leg of the 2007 Figaro Race in France:
“You must not this [sic] kind of thing too often; it is not good for your health! I have aged at least 10 years. It was too much…hours and hours of upwind in 40 knots, its pure hell. These boats are only little and the sea was truly awful. It was painful and at one point I nearly gave up. I had been there for hours and went below deck to check on the charts…have a look and see I was exactly half way between the home and the finish, only that heading home would have been downwind and hesitated at one point because it was so tough. I never thought that all my fellow competitors would leave me to work alone. When I heard that I was in 33rd place on this mornings poling, I even told myself that fine, they had all tacked before me so felt confident. I said to myself that maybe there is a chance here. On the next position report I was 18th and then on the last one I was second behind Bostik. It was incredible when I thought I could do it.

I was with Gildas (Le Comptoir Immobilier) and then Mich’ (Foncia) in the same place. I must have continued west for a couple of hours. It is just incredible because that happens because Michel Desjoyeaux does not make mistakes.

I had been checking the weather charts since the start to try and work out when the wind shift would come in. It was important to use that to work out when to tack. We had everything on this leg and particularly on the long stint in the windy conditions. It was not so much the 40 knots of wind, but the violent sea state. I tied the lifeline round my waist as a belt and clipped on to stop me from being thrown off whilst helming. When you are tired you fall asleep and if a wave crashes over the boat you can get washed out the cockpit.

At one point I told myself to just forget about the race, just sail safely. It really is that: sailing as a good sailor and not get worked up about pure performance because in those conditions it was no longer possible".

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