Hi, this is from Clay, he sails a Rodstone designed mini (yep from J boats). Nice to see another designer with a name in the field. Its a bit different, but not that much. You recognize it as a proto, according Clay, the designer was very enthousiastic about the project... This story is a very good insight from a new guy... he will be faster soon and forget how it was the first races :)



www.teamacadia.com

Acadia's Log: The Les Sables - Azores  Race

08/26/06, Les Sables, France

This was written over a period of a few days.  I am currently back in Les Sables d'Olonne, the first of the fleet  started to arrive this  morning; Isabelle ended up fourth, only about an hour behind the first place  boat, she will end up in fourth overall. Must admit it was a bit frustrating to be standing on a motor boat watching the finish.

I  applied for a wildcard yesterday, right now, the chances look good. My understanding of how the wildcard process worked was fortunately wrong... I am still allowed to apply for one, though since I have been racing in Europe this summer, my application goes to the bottom of the stack and will only be considered  after non-Europeans who have not been here this summer are given first priority. Fortunately, the wildcard applications for next  years Transat have to be in by Sept. 1st (in one week) and the  Classe has only received one application so far. They will have an official meeting on September 9th to confirm wildcard recipients, though will not make formal announcements until Dec. 1st at the Paris boat show (they will let me know after the Sept. 9th meeting). It was based on this information (having a very good shot at a  wildcard) that I chose to go that route and not try to piece together some form of a mast in Horta.

Part of the following was typed on a French keyboard (my computer has died) so please excuse typos and poor spelling.

 Horta, Azores

 It is Friday afternoon here in Horta, on the island of Faial in the Azores. I sense that part of me should feel somehow at home, afterall, The Portugese  of Stonington hail from these islands -- though I feel restless and distant,  the sort of emotions that are easily amplified by government officials that  like to exercise thier power and theoretically follow rules written down  somewhere.

I am sitting in Peterīs Cafe Sport, probably the most famous bar on the waterfront in the Atlantic Basin... the volcano on Pico, the island just to the east, shows itīs 6,000 foot summit as the constant cloud cover briefly clears. The steady buzz of traffic on the harbor road seems to blend into some  rythme coming from the bar speakers; across the road is the marina, a mix of boats in their berths safely in the harbor...on the other  side of the basin, inside the large seawall, Acadia sits, wounded  it seems, on a 20ī conatiner platform, resting on tires,  the keel removed and laying flat on the steel and wooden structure. Most items on deck have been stripped and placed below.

 The interior of the boat also holds boxes of  gear salvaged from Andy Abelīs series boat Zonda which was detroyed on the rocks of Pico only two miles from the finish line.  All of the mini sailors are gone, having restarted the upwind leg home three days ago...as I deal with the logistical and beurocratic maze of trying to get Acadia back to the mainland, I find myself  longing for the self sufficeny of being at sea, while at times completely maddening, at least one seems to have a degree of control. Here, back on land, someone in a remote office is at the controls,  dictating the number of hoops one must jump through to get from  point A to point B. Acadia was ready to be shipped yesterday, though paperwork problems (proving the boat and me are visiting and she  is not up for sale) prevent loading. It seems that sailing a boat on its own bottom and placing one on a cargo ship result in a completely different set of regulations; I second guess my decision to not  find anything to use as a mast, a telephone pole, and try to leave...though the risks seemed to great and I find myself repeating the words  often heard from family and friends "things happen for a reason," hmmm, maybe so.

The seawalls, docks and walkways of Horta Harbor are lined with paintings from boats all over the world, 1000s of them. Sailors, being the superstitious lot, have come to beleive  that a painting on the turf surrounding the marina in Horta (logo of the boat, list of crewnames, whatever) will bring good fortune at sea, anything to help keep in the good graces of Neptune, like  making offerrings at sea when crossing the Equator. Perhaps I should have flown here first and done my painting. I made an effort to  appease traditonal superstions when starting the trip... one hour prior to the departure from Les Sables, I ran 100 yards out of my way not to cross the path of a black cat, though the powers at sea must have sensed it only a halfhearted attempt, afterall, I still had bananas on the the boat.

For the departure in Les Sables dīOlonne, despite periodic rain, large crowds gathered on the dock to wish the sailors well. Ron Lewis helped with final prepartions, snapped some photos of the scene and then took cover and waited for my departure...I was located deep inside the marina and the parade  of minis had been going on for one hour now, each boat pulled from  the slip by a Zodiac then transfered to a larger boat for the tow  through the seawalls and breakwaters of the city, crowds lined the banks on both sides. I was the 60th boat to leave the dock and just as I enetered the channel under tow, my flags displaying  the sponsors of the race (required to be up for departure) parted...four flags floated to the deck and two remanied fluttering form the top of the mast. I debated about what to do, the wind and the waves of the ocean were only 2 minutes away. I stripped my foul weather  gear, grabbed a halyard and started to free climb, the crowd on the bank cheered as my name, boat name, designer and country were announced over a loudpeaker system, they cheered again when I reached the 2nd set of spreaders and grabbed the free flying spinnaker halyard and fluttering flags and quickly slid down the mast...my heart was pounding upon reaching the deck and a thought flashed  trough my mind about omens at the start, damn, I made the effort with the cat!

At the start, heavy penalties were in effect for being over the line early, one hour if over the line and restarting,  12 hours if over the line and not going back. The fleet was fairly conservative, though Brossard and Vectur Plus were fighting for  the boat end --- I pushed up to the line to leeward of them and about six boat lengths down the line and got off in third place, ending up fourth around the first inshore mark and about fifth  around a mark near the beach (there were three marks inshore before heading the 1270 miles to the Azores -- setup so spectators could  enjoy). The breeze was stiff stiff and I was akward in my spinnaker  set, though managed to slide by Didier on Vectur Plus as he wiped out 4 boat lengths in front front of me. I dropeed the chute 50 yards away from the last inshore buoy, rounded well (getting better at this boat handling!) and started the long slog to the Azores, upwind in breeze at first, then no wind three hours after the start  with the passage of a small front, then upwind in light air on the first night.

I struggled to keep my boatspeed in the nearly drifting conditions; I had been advised by a weather router to bail out to the north as soon as the wind shifted from Northwest  to West on its way to a Southwest direction -- It would remain  Southwest until the passage of a fairly significant front on the second night. I wathced the digital compass and as soon as it hit  270 degrees, I tacked North; Isabelle was the second to go a couple of hours later ( we shared the same weather info). All boats were  required to radio positions to "follower boats" (saftey boats) at 0700 and 1900 each day and if no direct contact with  one of these boats, attempt to relay the possition through another Mini (old safety procedures still practised despite having tracking  beacons on the boat). By 0700 on Monday morning I could not pickup anyone. I sensed that I was out in right field. At 1103 each day,  the race committee broadcasts weather in French and English and class positions in French, all on SSB shortwave frequencies on  Radio Monaco. The Race Director, when giving positions, gives the boat name, sail number and the distance from the finish. It is a sturggle to hear the broadcast on my Grundig portable radio -- a combination of static and background noise fill the speaker;  I tape the broadcast on a small Olympus recorder, at times replayng  parts of it 20 times over to make out one word --- 31 or 41 degrees?  Northwest winds, but no clue as to where since I cannot make out  the lattitude and longitude he is are saying. I think that I hear that I am in 53rd and I wonder if I went North too early. I curse  the radio and go back to steering.

 By now the winds have built to 25 knots out of  the southwest. I am close-hauled on port tack with two reefs in  th main. The keel is fully canted, windward water ballast tank is full, jerry cans of water are lashed to the weather lifelines and the gear below is all stacked on the high side. The ride becomes  chaotic and wet, slamming off of waves that seem to come from two  directions...I steer for hours, trying to thread a path of less  violence as I move through the building seas and strengthing winds...gusts  are now above 30 knots and eight foot waves pile on top of each other, hmmm, the Bay of Biscay makes sure that we show it some respect before escaping into the Atlantic.

I grab the Ipod to help keep awake... the front  was approaching and I needed to maasage the boat through the threatening squall lines on the horizon, hoping, praying that clear skies were  beyond the ominus black clouds. I put on U2 "It's a beautiful  day" at full volume, tucked the machine in my aft pocket and  zipped the pocket closed...the sound of mother nature faded away  and I glance around in between studying the waves. The evil looking sky was actually spectacular, low heavy clouds, rain bands everywhere, a sea that seem to be turning white with spray... I am jolted back  to the situation at hand as Acadia plows into a steep wave, I instinctively  duck as water envelopes the entire deck. Then amazingly, Bono seems  to be drowning, he is muffled at first, then his voice slows and  seconds later he is gone...hell I think, I zipped up the pocket. I reach in the left hand side (forward side) that was unzipped  and discover that my new smock has a pocket that goes from one side to the other, no divider in the middle. I pull out the unit and water sloshes around a screen that flickers and then goes black---damn,  the second day of the race and no more music. I had destroyed my  sunglasses earlier in the day when stacking gear... now I begin  to consider throwing the bananas over the side. Though things come in threes and I figure all will be okay from here on.

Thirty minutes later the rain starts and the winds build to 35 knots. I retreat to the cabin, soaked, waiting to make my 1900 position report on VHF, though again, nothing heard  and no one reponds to my calls. The movement is rather violent  and somewhere, amongst the maddening noise of the boat slamming  through the waves and the wind whining in the rigging, I hear an alarm, whimpering out some warning... my exhaustion has me momentarily paralized, and in the back of my head I hear a voice -- it is Thomas, my good offshore sailing mate Thomas Mitchell, saying over and  over, "Burk, people do this for pleasure!." I stare out the cockpit door, an alarm still sounding somewhere. The extreme  luffing of the sails and the sudden lack of heeling make me focus  on the tiller, which is not moving; I lunge to grab it, flick the autopilot ram off the locking pin on the tiller and bare-off, backing  the jib to help the process. I look at the instruements and see  all of them displaying the words "Seatalk failure" (Seatalk is the propietary data communications of Raymarine instruements). I extend the tiller extension and lock it over a peice of deck  gear so the boat can attempt to steer on its own and then go below.  I had brought a can of contact spray so I proceed to unplug every cable on the network, spray all contacts and reboot the system...the  displays come to life and provide data; I test the autopilot and  it too works. I slump against the lifelines and scan the Horizon  for some sign of the end of the front, though nothing but black. A squall approaches and passes, the sky brightens some, then blackness again. Fortunately the sun has not set. At 2030 the sun finally appears behind a solid cloud line, about 15 miles ahead.Within  30 minutes the wind shifts to the Northwest and I tack for the  rhumb line. I finally start to sleep, in 30 minute increments.

At the 0700 VHF safety call in I finally pick  up other boats... I figure I had circled around over the top of the fleet and was now converging with them again. No follower boats hear my call so I relay my position through another Mini. I grab the helm to give the autopilot a break and notice a tremendous amount of weather helm...I look over the stern and on the windward rudder, a large fishing net was drapped across the leading edge, buoys streaming on either side and ropes that are lined with mussels.  I cannot reach it by leaning over the stern (one line went forward  around the keel) so I tape a knife to a boat hook and start cutting...after  one hour, it finally drifts away and the boatspeed jumps one knot.  I inspect the rudder as best I can for damage and amazingly it  seems okay. At the 1103 weather and position reports I hear that  I have moved up to ninth place.

 Over the next 20 hours the winds slowly fade back down to drifting conditions.  I intended to work my way south of the rhumb line to pick up strong winds funneling  down the eastern side of the Azores high, and then have a good reaching angle  for the final approach into the islands....this southern course was to take  me as far as 120 miles below the rhumb line. I started to push in this direction while still to the east of Cape Finnistere, though as the wind went light it  came forward, and I found myself struggling to get around the Cape. The wind was oscillating back and forth 40 degrees every two minutes...I find it almost impossible to steer so I put the autopilot on and set it to sail to apparent  wind mode, which it does well. Weather forecasts from the Spanish Coast Guard indicate winds in the Cape area and on the Western Coast of Spain will be North/  Northeast at Force 4 to 5 (about 20 knots); I am currently sailing in South  Westerlies, getting into a position where I have to actually tack to clear the Cape... though they continually are calling for Northerlies, so I figure  that soon enough I will be off and running. The fog then sets in and it starts to rain; these conditions last almost until dark (day three) and finally the shift comes through... that days position report had me back around 20th place,  the light air blues. Within an hour after the shift it was blowing 25 out of the North, I was tired so I went along with the main and jib, doing about 9 knots; that night we were crossing the shipping traffic control lanes off the  Cape and cargo ships were everywhere...my radar detector alarm decided to shut down so now it was almost impossible to sleep, I try for 10 minutes at a time, setting my ear shattering sleep alarm to make sure that I got up and scanned the horizon --- sure enough, on one occassion, I had to alter course 90 degrees  to avoid geeting any closer than 200 yards from a passing ship.

 

By sunrise the wind had come aft to Northeast, it was blowing 25 knots and the seas were running at around 9 feet. I was moving along at 9.5 knots with the main and jib and surfing  at 11 to 12 knots...the moment of truth had arrived, if I was going to have any chance at keeping up with the leaders, it was now time  for the spinnaker. Up until that time, I had not used the chute in big breezes. On my 1000 mile solo sail I had similiar condtions,  though since it was not a race and the boat had never been tested,  I did not push it and only sailed with the main and jib in big  breezes (except for one short time under building conditons with the large chute). The two races I had done here this summer were in light air (with the exception of strong upwind conditions for the last part of the Fastnet), and condtions during my training  sessions off of Lorient were in light to medium air.

 

I went below and moved most heavy items to the stern of the boat, then I brought jerry cans of water and gear bags into the cockpit and lashed them to the stern of the boat (to help keep the bow up when surfing off of waves). I rigged up the small fractional spinnaker bag on the rail foward, put a reef  in the main, bore off to dead down wind and pulled like mad on the spin halyard. I then grabbed the tack line a gave three long  pulls to get the spinnaker out to the end of the pole, I reached  for the spin sheet and trimmed as I scrambled to sit on the windward side---instantly the chute filled with a pop and Acadia was flying, the speed immediately jumped to12 knots and she started to surf down a wave at 14. The autopilot was out of control, so I take over the steering...the boat was screaming, 15.8 knots down the  next wave, holding a steady 12.5 to 13 when she slowed again. I  had a feeling of being terrified and thrilled at the same time...here I was, in the middle of nowhere, no other boat around and no one  else on the boat, flying along, just inside the line of being completely out of control. Water was eveywhere, at times so much on deck that it no longer felt I was firmly planted on the boat...I glance at my teather saftey line holding me to the boat and wonder what the  hell one would do if washed over the side, with the autopilot on, doing 13 knots... I would be dragging behind the boat at speeds  damn near fast enough for waterskiing; I try to focus on something  else and notice the spin halyard and the tackline in a jumbled  heap on the cockpit floor, though I am affraid to leave the helm  and put the boat on autopilot, so I sit glued to the back of the  cockpit, steering the boat for hours, and actually having one hell  of a good time.

 

 It was time for the 1103 position reports, so I finally got up the nerve to put the boat on autopilot briefly, clean up the halyard and tack line, and drop the chute (I had no confidence in the autopilot handling the boat with the chute while I listened to the radio). Once again, it was almost impossible to make out the weather and from what I could tell I was still in about the same place in the fleet ... I go again for the spinnaker, this time with a double reef in the main; it is easier the second  time, and for the rest of the daylight hours, I steam along, until just before dark (1030) when I decide to drop the chute and try  to get some rest. For the night, I sail with the main and jib while on autopilot and the boat does a steady 9.5 knots until daybreak.

 The next morning was a repeat of the day before, 25 knot of wind, 9 foot seas and overcast skies; I hoist the small chute and the boat speed climbs to 10.5  and I surf at 13 to 14...more in control than yesterday and actually able to  put the boat on certain apparent wind angles where the autopilot can handle  the steering. If the boat tended to roundup at the bottom of a large wave,  the autopilot would struggle to steer and from the loads of a tighter apparent  wind angle, I would get a huge bend in the middle of my spinnaker pole; I worried about breaking it and having a slow trip to the Azores, so I keep a close eye on the course and tried to prevent the boat from heading up too much after  surfing down a wave. By the afternoon the winds had dropped to about 18 knots  and my boatspeed was now around 9 to 9.5 knots...I figured if I was going to  compete, it was now time for the medium spinnaker. I dropped the small chute,  rigged up the medium spin, hoisted it... instantly I was off and running again. The speeds settled back into a steady 10 to 11 and once again I was surfing at 13 to 15 knots. The autopilot was not happy with this program, so I took  over the steering.

 

The sun finally came out and it was a beautiful  afternoon of sailing, alone, moving fast and hopefully moving up through the fleet. I could barely hear some other boats on the VHF call-ins and assume I have moved into one of the most southerly  positions. I am sure that the leaders are pushing their boats hard and figure that now that I have some confidence with the chute in strong breezes, it is time to stay up all night and keep the  chute going. I sit as far aft as possible on the windward side of the cockpit...the wind for the last few minutes is up to about  22 knots and Acadia has been surfing nicely. We sit on top of a nice large wave, one that loks exceptionally good for a long surf...  the boat sits there, thinking it seems, almost ready to slide down  the windard face, slowing a little though keeping a steady pace...or possibly go screaming down the downwind face...with a pump of the mainsail I help her make up her mind---we are off and running surfing at 13 to 14 knots for what seems like minutes, flying over a smaller wave that we catch up to, then over the next, and finally down an average size wave though with a slightly steeper face. As we  approach the bottom of the wave Acadia starts to head up, as if going into a broach (rounding up so much with the boat that it roles over partially on its side and the main and spinnaker start luffing). I fight this with the helm, trying to bare off; I glance at the spinnnaker pole and see that it is bending like crazy...I wait for it to break. Just as I was getting control of the boat and she begins to bare off, I hear a large boom...I think to myself,  damn, there goes the spinnaker pole, though I watch in complete  amazement as sails, rigging and pieces of carbon fill my whole  view; 2/3rds of the mast, the spinnaker, jib, and most of the main are now in the water, forward on the leeward side. I sit there and do not move, I just look...I am tired and briefly hope that  it is a dream; for three minutes I sat on the deck, tiller in my  left hand, mainsheet in my right. Five Hundred and fifty miles  from the Azores, the coast of Portugal back beyond the waves, somewhat  upwind, no boats around, alone on my boat. I think about trying to raise someone on the VHF, though the antenna is now 15 feet under water. The mast starts to slam into the hull as Acadia spins  sideways and is broadside to the waves -- the movement is extreme with so sails and it is hard to stand.

I survey the situation, it is a mess, things everywhere. I am unsure where to start, though the sails in the  water seem to be causing the biggest problem, so I get the jib  off and then grab for the chute which is billowing aft under the  boat...I start to pull and the whole foot tears off, now the top 2/3rds of it are streaming from the masthead, about 15 feet underwater.  The main is still attached to the 14 foot stump the remains in the boat (the mast broke just below the first spreaders), and the  rest is on the broken part that drags in the water. When the mast  broke, it was a clean break, but there was 14 feet of mast in the  boat and the top 26 feet that broke was dangling over the side in the water, though still attached by electrical wires and halyards 14 feet in the air at the break. I try to move the main in the track put it does not budge...I grab the divers knife lashed to the tiller and start to cut the luff. I cannot get at the part in the water without going in, so I pull like made and the main  ripps along a batten pocket...I get the the main on the mast stump remaining in the boat removed but now some of the main is streaming from the top section, underwater. An upper spreader on the mast section in the water is now jammed through one of the stantions and the loads are tremendous. I go below and collect the minimal  tools on board. I did have bolt cutters, so I start cutting the rod rigging and I remove the spreaders, I then managed to get the  mast streaming aft, laying on the aft lifeline... the boats starts  to move at 2 knots down the waves. I release the halyards on deck,  but there is no movement of the broken piece still in the air.  I go below and cut the VhF antenna wire and the electrical wires,  but still nothing. The jagged edge of the carbon mast tube is preventing  the halyards from running free. I stand at the stern and look at the mast head streaming about 3 feet under water, I consider jumping in and cutting the halyards from the masthead so they can run free that way, though it is almost dark and I figure the risks too high.

 I studied the remaining mast section in the boat  and pondered how I would climb the 14 foot span to reach the break  and cut the halyards; this would allow the broken section to drop to the deck. There was no halyard to pull myself up on. I initially  put a knife in my mouth and tried to shinny up the mast, but the  movement of the boat in the waves was too extreme and I only made it halfway. I then remembered a climbing hitch that one could use that would tighten when loaded and free up when not loaded (showed  to me by a friend in St. Martin two years ago when I was trying  to climb the broken mast section of KIM, a 70 footer that I captained, though I was doing that in the safety of a marina). I rigged up  two sets of these hitches, one for my left foot with a loop attached  and one for my climbing harness...it was dubious since the hitches barely grabbed on the smooth carbon tube. I tried two times, backing down both times because I got slammed around against the mast in  the waves. I tried an extending boathook with a knife tapped to it, but it was too flimsy to put enough pressure on to cut the high-tech, extremly strong lines. I tired one more time at climbing, resting and holding tight when the boat rocked violently, then  inching up when it settled down again. I finally reached the top  and was actually able to reach over the top of the lower section  that I was on and pull halyards straight up (away from the jagged carbon edges) and end up with enough slack that the broken section  dropped about 8 feet, to the point now were I could stand on the  boom and cut the top half free. As I did that, the mast immediately  started to drag off the stern, over the lifeline (part of the main  and the spinnaker, underwater, , tugging at the mast)...I jumped to the cockpit and spent the next hour fitting the thing, trying  someway to get it on board...again, the only solution was to get  in the water with a knife, go aft of the boat about 20 feet and swim underwater 3 feet to cut the main and spin halyards, and now  the remains of spinnaker were twisted around the headstay. The sun had set and the twighlight had almost faded...I untied my line  holding the mast to the boat and pushed it over the back end; it now rests in about 20,000 feet of water.

I rigged up the storm main to a fitting on the bow, tied it to one of the cut halyards and managed to hoist the halyard over the jagged edge of the remaining carbon section in the boat. I went to the stern and pushed a button on my ARGOS tracking beacon twice, which sent a precoded message to the race headquarters that I had broken my mast but was not requesting assitance. The boat was moving at 4 knots under the storm main and the autopilot was happy, I went below and slept for 6 hours. In the morning I  rigged the storm jib also from the bow and managed to get the boat going five knots. I studied my course options and figured the best program would be to head for the Azores, fortunately downwind, and try to finish the race, 540 miles away. It took six days. Sometimes  my speed was okay, other times it would drop to 2.5 knots and my time of arrival woould double. It was a struggle to fight off boredom, I would eat, sleep, try and make the sails perform better, read  Bloc Marine from one end to the other (like Reed's Almanac) and  read the only book I had on board, Chichester,s "The Lonely Sea and Sky" given to me by my sister Susan.

 I arrived in The Azores on a Wedensday and battled  to get through light air and reach Horta --- on Thursday, as I  approached to within 3 miles of the finish I received a call from the race committee asking me what time I thought I might cross  the line, I was moving well and headed straight for the line, basically in between the breakwater and a mark on land. Fifteen minutes later the wind shifted and came from the Southeast at 20 knots, on the  nose...I could not sail upwind. I was frustrated as I started to sail away from the line and called the race committee to notify  them I could not make the finish and needed a tow. Thirty minutes later a Zodiac rounded a rock cliff off the harbor and sped towards  me. In the meantime, I noticed some windmills on a hill had stopped spinning (even though I still had a strong breeze) and I checked the speedo and compass and the current was actually pushing me towards the finish line, even though I was headed away from it.  The Zodiac pulled alongside with a photograper on board and I asked  them to hold off, to give me a couple of more hours. They said  they would, but they were concerned about the current pushing me beyond Horta and out to sea (it was running around 2 knots). I  did not know yet that Andy Abel's boat had hit the rocks earlier, not far from there, so they were being cautious. They said they  would return in an hour to keep an eye on me...by then the wind was flat and I had a feeling it was getting ready to do that island  thing when it comes from all directions. Small puffs started to come from behind, then from the left, then ahead, and behind again.  I hugged the rock cliff marking the edge of outer harbor, about 60 feet away... I was pointing directly at the rocks as the current pushed me sideways...a puff came in from the Northeast, just enough to push me out of the current rip and tuck me inside the outer  harbor, in the lee of the cliff. Twenty minutes later, I drifted  across the line, to cheers from people on the banks of the harbor  and sailors in the marina.

Prior to this race, I had 910 miles of the required  1000 miles needed in Mini races to qualify for the Transat race next year (this is in addition to the 1000 mile solo sail that I did off the Carolinas in the spring). The leg I had just finished, 1270 miles, did not count...miles can only be counted if finishing an entire event, which means all legs of the race.

 I would like to thank my brother-in-law, David  Eck, for flying to Horta and exploring options for putting together a jury rigged mast and for providing moral support. I also want  to sincerely thank Duncan and Ruth Sweet, and Vera, all of MidAtlantic  Yacht Services in Horta. They have had their business going for  15 years and know the ropes in the Azores. Duncan has helped organize  the shipping of the boat out of the Azores and helped prepare it for shipping, hopefully Acadia will be on a US bound ship from  the island of Terceira in two weeks. Duncan and Ruth also provided  a bed at their beautiful place on the far side of the island, a  true paradise. Duncan and I spent a few late nights trying to solve  the problems on the world, many thanks. The sailors in the Mini  Classe, the Classe Association and the Race Organizers are a fantastic  group of people, I truely appreciate their comraderie and support.

When the boat returns to Stonington, I will once again be at Dodson Boatyard...it will be a busy couple of months  putting together a new mast, making some small changes, a getting to Florida for a winter of practice. I will then be back here in the spring (assuming I get the wildcard), for a full summer of races, all leading up to the Transat in Septemebr 2007.

 I am thankful, that despite the probelms, I have been here this summer and  been able to test the boat and myself. I understand what we need to change  to increase the performance of the boat and understand how the top sailors are pushing their boats in the long races, and it is hard. This winter, Acadia,  will be pushed hard in testing. Thanks again for your support...this summer of racing would not have happened without it.

-- Clay