Given the somewhat unexpected summer weather we have enjoyed here in the UK I was perhaps forgiven for not expecting this to be a typically blustery day in Cardiff, yet fun and excitement are always in abundance at this fantastic annual event.
2013 was the second year since Cardiff snatched the event away from Cowes, and the city certainly sees sailing as an important part of its sport and arts attractions. This year saw Land Rover as the main sponsor including a local team, Team Wales Land Rover, skippered by young Welsh sailor Dave Evans.
The inclusion of a local team certainly excited the record breaking crowd, which was in excess of 120,000 people over the four days, the biggest crowds the circuit has seen in its seven year history. Crammed and hustled around Cardiff bay, the obvious enthusiasm of the local spectators helped give this event a festival type atmosphere, full of laughs, cries and cheers. This was my first experience of this event, I hope it is not my last.
Part of the rules of this unique event sees each team welcome on board a spectator, someone who doesn't sail, take the ropes or indeed do anything but take in the experience. Yes, I was to be one of those lucky people, and no, I have not had any prior experience in sailing. I am assured this is not a problem.
If I had been nervous in the days leading up to this event, any qualms by this point had all but disappeared. I should explain that as I was due to climb aboard, the wind was dismal, and by that I mean it was practically non existent. In fact I ended up not clinging on for dear life or desperately trying to avoid the swinging boom which I had been warned about, but instead found myself trying to shelter from the onslaught of rain which happily appeared the second I climbed aboard.
Needless to say, I didn't have the kind of experience expected from a Catamaran race held in Cardiff bay, more of a gentle regatta than an extreme roller-coaster of a ride, but in despite of weather I had a wonderful time. There really is nothing quite like experiencing a race of this nature first hand, almost as if one were able to hang on to the back of Alonso's fire red Ferrari during the race at Monza.
I had the pleasure of being a guest on board the previous champions and current series favourites, The Wave Muscat Team, which is a part of the Oman Sail programme, skippered by British Olympian Leigh McMillan.
Besides from being perfect gentlemen to a clear novice, The Wave team were ultimately professionals who seem to know every crevice and line on these spectacularly light yet sturdy Cats. One could only sit back in awe at the level of skill and precision of these athletes.
The Wave, Muscat was unflappable, winning three of the seven races on the final day to walk away from Wales as champions. The team kept it consistent and delivered 11 race wins over the course of the event.
ChinaSpirit impressed on their Extreme 40 debut and finishing sixth overall, giving their skipper Phil Robertson a confidence boost ahead of the next event in Nice to be held over 3-6 October.