April, a month of unstable weather and a time when the Atlantic is rife with strong depressions and gales soon became the root cause of uncertainty in the 1000 Milles des Sables. A total of three course changes were implemented to avoid any potential of strong conditions, which resulted in a complicated race both strategically for skippers and confusing for followers.
“I was very keen to test the boat and myself in strong conditions that are expected in November’s Route du Rhum, which I think is important preparation before you cross an ocean, both for man and boat. In the end the strongest winds we experienced were 20 knots in choppy seas, which was useful for testing the boat’s light to medium set-up.
“As I learnt in the 2016 Plymouth to New York Transat, preparation for a solo race is everything. In my qualifying passage I went through an un-forecast gale, which was somewhat unpleasant, but the experience brought to light the developments I needed to make on board. For example, I found that my storm sail wasn’t rigged properly for the boat, which I then went on to use three times during the Transat race. The whole experience of my 2016 qualifier enabled me to me think about changing sails safely and efficiently in strong winds.
“Although, for me the conditions were not ideal for what I wanted out of the race, it was still valuable to test the boat in solo mode and with such close racing battling with Aymeric and Sam, it enabled a good speed reference for relative boat performance.
“The race has highlighted a lot of things we need to work on, particularly to make it easier for me in solo configuration, and has emphasised just how important it is to max out on training and testing before racing.” Phil continued.