Pitch black and far from gentle...

Our foulies are streaming with the spray and the big waves; already they're completely soaked. The first night was full on, which is the nice thing about record attempts since you have the freedom to choose the right weather conditions in which to sail the first three/five days. … If you want a gentle introduction with a bit of finesse, you can always come back another day.

As soon as the Golden Gate Bridge was crossed and the stopwatch started, Gitana 13 reared up and got a handle on the speed, which she had not yet experienced in the Pacific. It was bordering on the wild side and then, as night fell without a moon and without stars, inked with an intense black, we got gusts of over 33 knots, which is something Gitana 13 hadn't seen since her passage around Cape Horn.

Beam on to 4 to 6 metre hollow waves, we really got shaken about onboard and vigilance was paramount on the sheets and at the helm. Most surprising of all though was the cold: a biting, very wet cold which went right through you. An initial bracing night then, a complete contrast to the way we cast off, which was gentle and calm.
After a final ‘healthy' meal (hamburger/chips/coke, the works!) relished aboard a former US Navy aircraft carrier in the bay and now transformed into a museum, we cast off as planned at 1400 hours local time and then put in a few tacks at the foot of San Francisco to join up with the infamous red bridge. Though there were only a few people on our quay, lost at the end of the bay, the harbour itself was teeming with sails on Saturday afternoon. Amidst foghorns and waves, we were given a fantastic send off. Next stop Japan.

Nicolas Raynaud

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