We're off!

JC Azores 2008 - Cornet
Ron Westcott
Sun 1 Jun 2008 13:45
Position 49:39.026N 05:.18.536W  Just 60 miles for Day 1
43 boats in the end started yesterday.  A great occassion for spectators and competitors alike with Michael Richey of 'Jester' fame starting the race.  However, I can't believe a swanned around in the Sound too long and  as a result was one or two minutes late over the line at the start and too leeward of most boats.  Not critical on a 1200 mile race but as a dinghy racer embarrassing!
Better use of the tide, however, got me back up to 4th ot 5th but then the whole fleet found a complete lack of wind at different times and as the fleet spread out positions were hard to judge.  Whislt becalmed I was circled by three basking sharks.
Quite a tough night.  I had thought before that with 43 boats in the same area there was more chance of hitting another competitor than a commercial boat and so it proved.  When the alarm raised me from a 30 minute nap around one in the morning I saw a green navifgation light on coverging course with me and looking very close.  I decided that I needed to gybe to pass behind his stern but but the time I had rtemoved the boom preveter he was already crossing my bow no more than 50 to 100 foot away I would have thought.  No sign of life on board so I guess he was a sleep and will never know of our close encounter in the night!
All my various electronic aids to identify other boats only pick up commerciaol shipping, of course, and not other competitors. 
But they come into their own around two in the morning waking me to find a two lane highway of commercial stuff off the Lizard.  For the next two hours it was 15 minute naps and then back up monitoring and dodging ships.  I gybed to pass behind one that was getting too close OK.  On another occassion I woke to see a red and green light pttern heading for me.  I immediately prepared to change course rather than be flattened.  When ready I looked again and he still appeared to be heading straight for me so I tunjed back on my course t a faster point of sailing.  Looking again I realised that it didn't look quite right with the white lights..  With the bioculars it was clear iut was a red light and an auxillary light that looked green to its right.  Clearly he had alterned course for me, probably thanks to the Seeme Active Radar Reflector,  but confused by this other light I had turned back into his path.  Fortunately  quickly spotted and I turned back again!
By five I was passed the shipping and got in a series of one hour naps though they were 'cat naps' rather thansleeping as my brain was too full of things happening and too programmed to listening for alarms.  Naps did help though and with little shipping now, hopefully, I will get some sleep tonight.
At times 3 to 4 knots through the night but very light winds again today.  Struggling to do 1.5 knots with the big assymetrical spinnaker.  Just as well though as I found a split ring gone from the clevis pin on one of the outer stays which could have brought the mast down! Also found a nut on deck which I donm't where it came from but it's too big for my boat so hopefully came from elsewhere!
I've been joind by a racuing pidgeon who refuses to leave and is pooing over my boat.  Not content with being on deck he keeps trying to come down into the cabin!
If the wind stays light like this it will be a very long way!