Dear all my wonderful friends and followers,
I have just returned to the mighty shores of Great Britain and trying to put into words what it feels like to complete the Solitaire is a tricky task.
Its hard to explain how you feel, wandering around the streets of Dieppe in a zombie like state completing the final few event commitments, greeting the other sailors who red eyed, bronzed and some what disheveled are also staggering about looking for water and free snacks. You know you share a bond with them all, they too have been out there and seen and felt all the same pain and elation over the last month.
We raced over 1700 miles and I ended up just sneaking into the 20’s (my aim) in 29th position and with a much bigger fleet of 43 boats, an improvement on my result last year. I ended up just 8 hours 26 minutes and 46 seconds behind the winner, Nicolas Luven. I have had the pleasure of sailing against Nico in Oman and France and can confirm he is one of the nicest men in sailing, humble, modest and friendly, he would always ask how my stage of the race went and very happy to answer questions. The whole fleet is pretty special that way, I think due to the crazy conditions we experience and the fact you can be smelling of roses one minute and then completely shafted the next and of course the ever present danger of imminent death and requirement for help from any of the other competitors, it keeps everyone pretty friendly and approachable.
There are of course the physical symptoms, being permanently dazed, confused and disorientated. No idea what time of day it is, where you are or what is happening, constantly wondering when can I next take a socially acceptable nap. There is also the constant need to search for snacks and drinks as if there might not be a chance to eat later. There are also the mental symptoms, feeling like your head is full of cotton wool and there is a vacuum, this big thing has passed and there are no more rocks to worry about or marks to assess for tactical advantages. Making decisions is incredibly wearing; even what you want to order at dinner is a question you just don’t know the answer to. Everything in the suitcase is a little bit smelly and sailing kit can only held at arms length whilst holding your breath.
We were hugely lucky to have our fabulous Joan, the only female preparateur in the race. She is exceptionally organized and patiently answers our confuzzled questions, decides what and when we want to eat and wakes us up in time to make every event function. Not to mention everything she has done throughout the race, beautifully cleans, fixes and prepares our boats and carries our enormous bags up the 5 floors to every accommodation we end up in.
There is the sense that you have achieved something but you can’t quite fathom what.
I am very happy to have made it through all the anxiety and all the manoeuvres without too much drama or stress and kept the boat together.
There were four legs and I have broken them into separate parts for you to savour over the next few days!!