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Lizzy Completes Leg one of the AzoresBig congratulations to Lizzy for completing the first leg of the single-handed mini Transat race from Les Sables to the Azores!

This mammoth race is the best qualifying race for the Mini sailors who want to compete in the Mini Transat race as it prepares the skippers for the length of time alone at sea, the control of food and water, as well as how to weather route  ocean weather systems with only an SSB radio receiver for weather info.

By all accounts, it sounds like Lizzy had a good race and learned a lot. The following is taken from Lizzy’s blog…

After 10 days at sea, I crossed the finish line of Leg 1 of the Les Sables – Azores – Les Sables race midnight on Tuesday.

I am very happy to be here; it has taken a couple of years work to get myself onto the Mini circuit, so to be here, moored up in Horta with a boat in great condition, is a real achievement for me. Sailing over a 1000 nm solo across the Atlantic is an adventure in itself; racing across solo is another level!

The final approach to the finish was magical. Ile de Pico appeared and disappeared under a think layer of cloud, while the setting sun cast the most beautiful light in the sky. There was a faint aroma of volcanic rock, trees and lightning in the air – and my feet started to itch with a need to be back on land. I hadn’t had a hot meal, cup of tea or coffee for the past three days, thanks to taking the wrong type of gas canister with me, and I was salty, hot and bleary eyed.

Nearing the harbour entrance, a RIB appeared with my boyfriend and the photographer onboard, while on the dock the rest of the fleet were waiting for me with a cold beer, and open arms for the dock lines. What a fantastic welcome; and quite moving, considering I had not seen another boat nor had any VHF contact with anyone for the past 8 days. 
It had been a fantastic blast downwind to the Azores since the Cape of Finisterre, with lots of sail changes between genneker all way through to my bright yellow ‘grand spi’. I was doing a good 15 knots boat speed most of the time. It was a little surreal racing against a fleet of boats I could not see; you find yourself constantly questioning your boat speed, sail and choice of heading, desperate to be going as fast as possible.

With nobody to speak to, my only news from land was that  received over an SSB radio, which is connected to the shrouds via an external antenna to pick up a signal. Everyday at 10 am I had to tune in to Monaco radio to try and hear the forecast from Denis Hughes, the race director. It was difficult to understand the crackly speech and near impossible to decipher any French! 

Being the longest race I have done to date, I learnt a lot about routing and working with the weather systems. The signal was too poor most days to pick up a complete forecast and I could not decipher the positions of the high and low pressure, so it was difficult to know exactly which route to chose; I ended up sailing to far south which put me behind, but I learnt a lot during the navigation.

I now have a few days rest and some exploring to do; this evening the fleet are going out in some traditional whaling boats, while tomorrow all 33 of us are going on a bus tour of the Island. I’ve never met such a good group of people; bound together with a love for Mini sailing, a quest for adventure and the desire to race across the ocean waves, leg 2, the race back to Les Sables, is going to be epic… let’s go!

3 Responses to Lizzy Foreman completes Leg 1 Les Sables – Les Acores

  1. Andrew Wood says:

    We’re very glad to hear Lizzy made it back to Les Sables on the return leg from Horta in one piece, albeit minus a top spreader!

    We’re still waiting to hear the full story from Lizzy in person, but it is very coincidental that I broke exactly the same spreader on the same race in pretty similar circumstances!

    Anyway, Well done Lizzy on completing yet another qualifier in good shape!

  2. Andrew Wood says:

    The race start has been delayed for 28 hours to allow the tail end of Hurricane Bertha to pass through the bay of Biscay ahead of the sailors.

    Obviously a welcome decision by the race committee, but it will no doubt leave many of the competitors feeling twitchy as they would have already psyched themselves up for the 1400 downwind blast home to the finish line.

    We’re all looking forward to watching the the 2nd leg unfold on the tracker when they go! http://lessables-lesacores.geovoile.com/2014/app/flash/

    Go Lizzy!

  3. Andrew Wood says:

    From, Lizzy Today..

    Leg 2 starts tomorrow, 1300 LT

    Tomorrow at 1300 local time [Lizzy] will cross the start line for the 1270 nm leg back to Les Sables d’Olonne in France. With a W/SW’ly forecast, it’s going to be an exciting ‘straight line’ blast home; a very intense low pressure system sweeping across the Northern Atlantic means we could see up to 35 knots or more towards the weekend.

    Thankfully I have not had a lot of boat work to do since arriving in Horta; in the weeks building up to the event, I put a lot of time into sorting the electronics, power and rigging systems onboard, while also putting together a comprehensive boat & sail repair kit. Luckily I was able to swap a few spare packets of food for gas, so I can look forward to tucking in to some decent porridge and Stowaways meals for the next 8 days!

    I got pretty lonely at times during the last leg- hopefully this time I will have somebody to talk to on the VHF, with the fleet following more or less the same track. However I’ve still got over a week alone onboard, so I’ve got a few audio books and a refreshed playlist to listen to, and some gifts from my family to open for when it does get a bit tough out there!

    You can keep track of the race on twitter @LizzyTwigs and online at http://lessables-lesacores.com/

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