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Vigilance key for safe solo race

Matt Paulin, one of six entrants in the new Solo Division of the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic, writes that the number of competitors, and the hazard of sailing in close proximity to land, are the biggest challenge that this race presents for the single handed sailor:

"Island Time is no modern race boat, now being 28 years old. She is designed by the world renowned Kiwi designer Bruce Farr. Designed as a cruiser racer she was never a rocket ship, but still sails well for her type.

I’m doing this race solo because I enjoy the challenge it provides. In some ways this race solo is more difficult than offshore racing solo, simply due to the number of competitors and the proximity of the coast – there are more obstacles than in the open ocean. This means that a solo skipper will expect to stay awake and on watch for the whole event, which could be 30 hours or more depending on conditions. It is both a mental and a physical challenge.

Solo means that normal manoeuvres and sail changes take much longer than in a crewed vessel, so the tactics are different. Every movement and trim/sail change must be thought out in advance, and proper plans made. Practice is important. The boat physically is not as fast without a crew to sit on the rail and help balance the sails.

Some boats are stripped down to the barest essentials for racing, to get the best performance possible. Island Time is not, she is still in pretty much cruising trim, so I expect to be as comfortable as possible in a small boat at sea.

For the return trip to Auckland I’ll double the crew – my wife will join me, but we expect to take two day sails to get home, rather than a continuous passage. This is my ideal way to spend the long weekend!"

Thanks Matt and good luck!

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