I am more familiar than I’d like to be with the British weather around winter, it is cold rainy and windy, perfect days to spend indoors watching television. This isn’t much of an option unfortunately if you’d like to be a successful offshore sailor, especially if you are trying to get some good time on the water. Although the temperature has been mild we’ve had an excess of wind and rain to compensate, these have been good conditions to push me into areas of sailing I am unfamiliar with.
When sailing in dinghies there will always be a limit on what you can race in, not too much and not too little, or else the racing will be unfair or too dangerous. The only times I’ve sailed in 30knots of breeze was by accident, and I hadn’t spent much time finding out what was fast, only what was the fastest way to shore. To simply finish a Figaro race you have to reach the end destination, which can mean sailing through some punishing storms, to win you’ll have to sail through the storm faster than everyone else. So this week we got on the water and trained.
While on the water I broke a couple of personal bests, I sailed through the biggest gust, 42knots, and hit a top speed of 18knots. To some this won’t mean much and to others it won’t be so impressive, but to me it was quite a ride in the 10m long Figaro. I instinctively move my body weight around when surfing down the waves as if I was back in a dinghy; this however has little effect in a yacht weighing a few tonnes. Unfortunately the conditions made it difficult to produce any quality photographs, and it is always difficult to portray the full force of mother nature through a 2D picture, but believe me it was windy.
For sure I am nervous about getting into the windiest conditions but once the sails are up I never have any regrets, writing about the experience on a sofa only makes me want to go back outside into the wind and rain for more.
There will be plenty of time for more, the next few days we are looking to find a suitable weather window to sail two boats to Lorient, our training base in Brittany. This will be the longest time spent out at sea, the longest time on a Figaro and the first time sailing through some pretty interesting waters. More personal challenges to overcome and it looks like more wind to come, hopefully I’ll make it in one piece.