St. Malo Race Village

Wow, what a town and what an experience. Most days have seen throngs of people pass through the village. We’ve been busy with a lot of small, nice-to-do boat jobs and handing out boat postcards to the kids who stop by the wall above the boat.

The ultime skipper presentation.
A view from the stage at the presentation

We’ve spent years following the Vendée Globe and it was a real thrill when Rich Wilson stopped by the boat to say hi.

Two-time Vendée Globe finisher Rich Wilson
View from Kite
Ocean 50s in blue
Kite
Managing the lock after the class 40 parade
Class 40 parade

Last Training Day Before the Route du Rhum

We had one last training day before the Route du Rhum. It was great to get both spinnakers out with the new tack zips and work through maneuvers one more time. It was even better for Polkadot (Alex Mehran, USA154) to be out as well. Here are some of Alex’s drone shots while we both had the fractional spinnakers:

KITE Training off St. Malo
Polkadot training
Polkadot (top) and Kite (bottom)
Polkadot (upper left) and Kite (bottom right) off St. Malo
Entering the lock into St. Malo

RBI Recap

It was a long and slow edition of RBI, but still was a fantastic experience. Kite finished as the second Class 40 in 13 days, 10 hours. While we all needed a shower and some proper food, we finished with water and food to spare and in good spirits.

In total, it was a great shakedown for the Route du Rhum and a wonderful wrap-up to our season of sailing around (figuratively and literally) the UK. With the 1800nm in this course, it brought our annual total to about 6,000nm across solo, double-handed, and crewed races and training. Some additional sights of the course:

Lights winds, but beautiful early morning colors.
Hannes and Miranda heading up the west coast of Scotland.
Muckle Flugga
Finally, big breeze downwind in the North Sea
North Sea scenery
scruffy smiles with a day to go
Westward along the south coast of England to the finish
A happy finish: Mike Golding, Greg Leonard, Hannes Leonard, Miranda Merron

Route du Rhum Qualifier

Following Round Ireland, Greg left for his Route du Rhum Qualifier.

In addition to the selection process to gain one of the 55 Class 40 slots, each skipper has to complete a qualifying passage. That passage can be either one of a few approved races in solo mode, a solo passage of 1,200 miles with at least 120 miles upwind in at least Force 5 (19-22kts), or a combination of a shorter solo race and a qualifying passage.

The delivery back from Ireland to Hamble was a great opportunity to double as a qualifying passage. We agreed with the race management on a course that would head south from Dún Laoghaire to a point off La Rochelle, back up to Ireland near Cork, south to France again near Brest and then on to Hamble.

Greg left Sunday the 26th as a low was passing Ireland promising 20+ kts S/Sw’erly.

Well, the low overdelivered. We had 30kts for the first 100 miles or so before it eased off for a few hours. Then the next front passed and brought more mid 30s! Step one – upwind requirement met…

Over all, it was a fun passage with few issues. The last miles into Hamble were active with a lot of shipping and fishing boats. We (I guess that is a royal we) finished in just over 6 days and something like 1350 miles sailed.

Lots of ships
Lots of nice sunsets
Finish!

Round Ireland Finish

It was a cruel finish to Round Ireland. If you watched the trackers, you know the wind died at the front and followers caught up. At times, we had 3 knots of wind and the followers were barreling up to us at 8 knots.

In the end, we ended up West and #171 went East and snuck by. It was well executed by them. We finished 2nd in the 40s and, in 2-3 kts of wind we ghosted as the 5th boat across the line.

Wow, this was a fun race. The scenery is amazing and the course around Ireland provides a lot of diversity and challenges.

For depth reasons, we stayed up in Dún Laoghaire and loved it up there too, but Wicklow looked really pretty from the sea as well.

Finish at Wicklow
Hannes at the helm across the finish
Last night before the finish.

Rathlin Island and heading south

We have rounded Rathlin Island and are now heading south. We had a welcome from hundreds of mers and gannets and quite a few puffins. The scenery up here is lovely and it would be nice to stay, but we’re were quite happy with the 5 kts of current pushing us south east in the light winds.

Rathlin Island

Scotland

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland