Well things with the Select did not quite go to plan. A few days prior my fuel cell stopped working and I was unable to get it repaired prior to the start. While it was working, it may have been masking another issue, that the batteries were not holding a charge.
So, after starting the race with what I thought were full batteries after 12 hours I was into major power conserve mode. This meant no GPS, no instruments, no VHF and most painfully no auto pilot. During the first night it was tough but not too severe since there were a lot of boats nearby to gauge off of both speed and direction.
The boat seemed to be going well although sail changes in the variable conditions were a challenge without the pilot.
By the next day, fatigue was starting to mount and my mood was starting to deteriorate. Was near the back of the fleet getting to the turning mark at Bourgenay. This was a lot due to sailing the boat earlier in the day to maximize solar panel exposure versus for performance. At Bourgenay, I was able to talk to the committee on the VHF and let them know I was having some power issues. I had already missed a couple of mandatory check ins due to not having enough power to transmit.
Once around Bourgenay it was a port tack favored beat back to Yeu. That went pretty well as I was feeling a bit energized to be heading back towards the finish versus away from it. Also the sun was shining which never hurts. Both were to be short lived unfortunately. As it got dark, the wind continued to build with the approaching cold front. Once clear of Yeu, I sailed for another hour or so on port before tacking to starboard for the long hitch out to clear Belle Isle and hopefully lay Groix which was to be left to starboard. Without a pilot, my only option was to tie off the tiller to try to get a little sleep. This worked ok but was not really too great for performance.
Shortly after sunrise, during a boat check, I found that the starboard lower rudder fitting was leaking. The leak itself was not too severe but I was very concerned with the possibility of the holes in the transon elongating which would have made the leak worse and likely damaged the rudder. At this point I did not even have enough electrical power to turn on the GPS to get a position fix. The sun did come out long enough to get some power out of the solar panels to get the GPS working and find my position. I still had a quite a way to go to get to Groix and was very concerned with coming back south inside of Belle Isle in the dark without any sleep, or instruments as there are numerous rocks and reefs here. If this were an area I knew well this might have been a non-issue but I had zero interest in piling my new boat up on the first race.
So, at this point I made the tough decision to head for Pornichet and withdraw. That still wears a bit heavily on me even now 48 hours later. The frustrating part was that the technology which was supposed to make a tough race easier completely failed me and I was not able to make up the difference.
Now I am faced with how to continue on from here. Classe Mini requires a person to have a C-level race completed before they do a B-level race. The Select was to be my C race before the Mini-Pavois which is a B race. Yesterday, I sent an email to the Classe to ask whether I will be allowed to race in the Mini-Pavois. I hope they allow it. If they do not I will be unable to race in the Mini-Pavois so will have to come up with a new plan to get my miles done. Also I may face late withdrawal penalties from the Mini-Pavois for dropping out less than one month before the race.
A technician from TEEM electronics should be here today to get my fuel cell operational and sort out the battery issue. Yesterday I bought a battery charger and it has been charging since 1430 and is still humming away trying to get the battery levels up. When I finished, they was not even enough power in the batteries to charge my cell phone. There are a few other items on my to do list but overall the boat came through very well.
Here is a link to website that has a number of pics from the race: http://www.imagesdemer.com/2bgal/disp_serie.php?id_album=133&stat=ok