Now heading the other way there were literally 1000 people sailing straight at me at close to 30 knots. There is clearly no way through that lot and I watch as many of the guys in front fly off downwind and out to sea. Still pretty lost I do what I have been doing the whole race and follow the black sail, which chooses a higher line. Now almost 4km back the fleet starts to thin out a bit and I decide to make a break and try to get upwind of it. I weave my way through the oncoming traffic avoiding the back markers as they fly out of control and catapult in front of me. I even have the terrifying moment of a head to head with someone foiling… in 40 knots!!! I navigate my way to the beach and now enjoy a relatively cruisey blast along the flat water to the 2nd gybe.
By this point the fleet is fairly spread out and I found myself locked in battle with 2 others. No idea who they were but what followed was a 20km battle. I got ahead of one, then the other would go past, then in front, then behind, swapping places heading upwind and downwind. This continued until around 37km when my body had had enough. I looked behind to see there was nobody else coming and let off the gas a bit. I figured I was around 30-40th, so gaining 1 position didn’t feel like it mattered. The black sail I had been following the whole time was a distant dot on the horizon. I have never been happier to cross the line and when my feet were finally back on dry land I was not really too sure if it had been fun or punishment. I guess the feeling is similar to running a marathon. Relief that it’s over, but a huge sense of satisfaction as well. I also suddenly realized I must have done a bit better than I thought, because there weren’t that many people around at the beach. It’s hard to believe you have done well when the winner was literally 3km ahead, but when the results finally came through I had finished a very satisfying 10th!