LOCK AND GO
Now it was a case of lock it all down and go. Normally on a PWA start after about 30 seconds people start to come past, so I was pushing and pushing waiting for the familiar slapping of a board upwind. Surprisingly this never came and suddenly I realized I was clear of the pack and pretty much on my own. About 200 metres downwind and a little way ahead were the frontrunners, then nobody! I had no idea where I was heading. Off in the distance there were 2 headlands. The first seemed too close to be 10 kms, whilst the other seemed too far and way off downwind. At this point my theory was to head upwind if in doubt, as at least I would find the gybe mark that was supposed to be near the beach somewhere. After about 2 or 3 kms I finally hear a board coming over the top, and it was actually quite a relief to have somebody close by. Past winner of the Défi, Andrea Cucchi of Point-7, blasted past and I locked in behind him, happily following his black sail. At around the 5km point things started to hurt a bit. Sailing in one direction for so long is not normal and begins to get a bit uncomfortable. The headland that seamed too close has not actually got any closer and it soon becomes apparent that this must be the 1st buoy. Still I follow the black sail.
Finally at around 7km we hit the beach. At this point it’s more or less a speed track, broad and flat. Normally it would be a case of bearing off and I know with this gear I can get speeds of over 35 knots. However the reality is that my legs are burning and going fast over chop was not what they wanted to do. Instead I bounced down the last 3km, and have never been so happy to see a gybe mark! As everyone converges there suddenly seems to be hundreds of people ahead, but all I really cared about is getting onto the other tack and giving my body a break. The gybe is relatively simple, but stepping into the straps and getting into position on the new tack proves to be harder than expected. My body seemed to be stuck twisting in the opposite direction, but it eventually sorts itself out.