It gives me great sadness to report that the Mini Transat is now over for me and 816.
So many hours of hard work over the past two years of my life up in dust, but too many things were not right and I guess sometimes you need to know when to stop.
This decision has been pretty well made by the Committee, as a competitor is only allowed 72 hours of stopovers in port, and sadly due to keel and rudder issues, plus the rigging issues over the past two days added up to more than that. Last night I called the race officer and bought more time, and when I left the dock last night at 2230 I got outside and did a full check of the boat. Once I started to tune the rig I realised that without more hours of modification, including taking the rig back and making some major adjustments out I would not be able to get it to a standard that I consider appropriate to race or sail across the Atlantic.
The keel is the added issue, and whilst I am happy with the repair and the structural strength of the keel box, I have not had the opportunity to x-ray the keel and look for other damage that may have happened during the incident.
Looking at the weather systems it was also against me, and the big high that continues to explode mid atlantic may have meant I was drifting around for days. What comes after the HP we don’t know, and there was always the possibility of more wind, so without the rig in the correct configuration I could not be 100% that all would be ok.
A lifetime of sailing, the past 16 years at sea woking professionally, and over 80,000 of ocean racing have taught me that the sea should not be taken lightly, as you never know what could be around the corner. I know how rough things can get out here, and with limited communications and tools onboard. When heading to sea one should always be wary of the strength and power of our amazing ocean. In the tropics I have seen wind go from 2kts to 45kts in a single squall and one should not proceed to sea unless they are completely satisfied with the boat, keel and rig.
Addiitnoally, and almost ironically the wind vane was not working properly so I had not true wind speed which meanes the pilot would not have worked correctly. Perhaps this could have been adjusted, but it is just another factor adding up to the decision process.
As Juggy says, a great learning experience. Sometimes you need to know when to turn the wick up, and sometimes you need to know when to turn it down. For the duration of this campaign I have been working with the wick up, the last couple of months I cranked it a bit higher, and over the past week the wick has been turned on as hard as physically possible, and burning like a blow torch. They say the Mini is a life changing experience. Now it is time to turn the wick down, regather, think about what I have learnt. This is the only times I have aborted a project, job or mission in my life, but the leaning experience gained for the RG650 project and me personally has been invaluable.
All in all, I am proud of myself for what I have achieved, and proud of myself for making the tough deciiton last night to turn around an sail back into port when I realised that things were not 100%. In itself this decisions means that I have learnt something, and developed some type of inner strength and wisdom over the years.
Thankyou all for your support throughout this campaign. I am very thankful to everybody for all the emails and Facebook posts I have received over the past few weeks. You have all been fantastic.