Nikki Curwen gets off to a flying start in the Solo Roma-Solo Race - Lizzy Foreman reports

This afternoon, my co-skipper Nikki Curwen set out on her first solo race of the season, the 120nm Solo Roma-Solo Race and here is what happened!

Nikki started the race midway across the line in about 7kts of breeze, tactfully shaking out the reef before the the five minute gun. It seemed the prototype boats favoured the committee boat end further offshore, while local boy Andrea Iacopini (682 'Umpa Lumpa') started the closest inshore. Nikki crossed the line towards the back of the fleet, but was one of the top four boats to hoist the big spinnaker. The race rules stated that the pole could not be set before crossing the line. Clearly being able to pull the correct ropes quickly to set the sail was advantageous, with Nikki gradually pulling towards the front of the fleet ten minutes before the start.

Over the line Nikki became one of the furthest right of the fleet having to luff above Jeffery McFarlane in a Prototype to avoid being stalled. Artemis 438's big spinnaker worked well to bring Nikki over the top and clear of Jeffery, who until this point she had been neck and neck with. Up in the front, Paris Texas (5) sailed by young 20 year old Ludovic Mechin looked to be leading the fleet alongside Tanguy Le Turquais, another young sailor from France. Both skippers were doing well in the north easterly breeze, which is set to build further offshore, perhaps to just over 20kts as the fleet reach the island which they will round to starboard.


 

Over night the breeze is set to become lighter, with the fleet potentially having to beat back upwind. The finish line is up river which will be tricky, as it flows strongly out to sea. Sadly, Monster (600) sailed by David Lusso, lost his job halyard to the top of the rig pre-start, causing him to have to free climb to the top of it in an attempt to retrieve it. He had to go back to the harbour and restart one and a half hours after the rest of the fleet.

If Nikki can hold her current position within the top five of the fleet, she should do well and is likely to finish tomorrow around 11:00 GMT (although I haven't done any proper routing!!), sailing a 120nm course is like going twice around the Isle of Wight. It is sunny here in Rome, but bitterly cold so no doubt Nikki will be tucking into some chicken pasta about now!

Track Nikki's race here!

The Solo Roma-Solo Race skipper line up:
Skipper/Nationality/Boat name/Boat no./Boat type

1. Tanguy Le Turquais/FRA/Terreal Reve d'Enfance/599/Pogo 2
2. Andrea Iacopini/ITA/Umpa Lumpa/682/Pogo 2
3. Luca Sabui/ITA/Keylog/538/Pogo 2
4. Martino Verlato/ITA/Cimbra/798/Proto
5. Emanuele Grassi/ITA/Eureka/269/Pogo 1
6. Michele Zambelli/ITA/M-Pharma Italia/768/Pogo 2
7. Anrea Frassinetti/ITA/Moitouseul/721/Nacira
8. Thomas Pircher/ITA/Mad Spaniel/659/Pogo 2
9. Florian Mausy/FRA/Foksaglisee/633/Pogo 2
10. Piero Platone/ITA/Big Jim/622/Pogo 2
11. Ludovic Mechin/FRA/Paris Texas/5/Proto
12. Andrea Farina/ITA/MaVie Phyto Garda/Proto
13. Nikki Curwen/GBR/Artemis/438/Pogo 2
14. Davide Lusso/ITA/Monster/600/Zero
15. Federico Cuciuc/ITA/Your Sail/556/D1
16. Andrea Pendibene/ITA/Marina Militare/520/Ginto
17. Jeffery McFarlane/FRA/Jeffery McFarlane/716/Proto
18. Pol Maurichx/FRA/Gin Tonic/453/Ginto