I have finally returned to Great Britain for a few weeks after a literal whirlwind of a time in France that has made me even more grateful for the holiday season. The festive feeling couldn’t be ignored journeying home thanks to Mary’s nonstop Christmas tunes during many hours stuck in the smelly van. So now that I am home I can slow down and review exactly what has happened recently, because it’s been a blur.
Before my time with the Academy I had never sailed across the Channel, something a budding offshore sailor should have done, but now I have navigated the ship filled passage a whopping four times. The most recent crossing came just a few days after returning from France; however it saw us leave in relatively glamour conditions, which gave us the opportunity to sail nonstop towards Lorient. I mean relative to the huge winds we experienced for most of November, we still spent a lot of the time in winds over 30knots on the first day but in a more helpful direction. I got to captain my adopted boat Artemis 43, potentially my steed for 2016, which meant for some good quality time to discover any repairs and changes I’d make, including giving her a name. The last three hours of the delivery had us actually motoring in under 5 knots of breeze which felt surreal, a good time to reflect on the last day and a half sailing.
With us now more accustomed to our new home in France we could focus on the major holes in our sailing skills that will prevent us from achieving respectable results in this elite fleet. My priority has been to increase my time simply on the Figaro and going through how to actually tack and gybe the boat, the simples just to get from start to finish. Fortunately for us we had Alan Roberts in town, with two years of Figaro experience he was more than welcome to jump on board and discuss the essentials for each manoeuvre. As is the case with sailing once you think you’re getting it all you need is a few extra knots with some choppy waves and the cracks seriously start showing. Needless to say there is more work to be done.
Our head coach Nico went through the plan for 2016 with us and to be honest I left the room pretty worried. There is so little time till our first race in mid-March that once the festivities are over I’ll be back in the whirlwind, just to be ready will be an achievement in itself. One of the golden nuggets I picked up from Alan was that “You succeed in this racing not by doing something exceptionally better than the rest, but by not having things go wrong.” Probably not the exact words but still if I get the basics right and look after the boat so it doesn’t break down on me I’ll be a happy Figaro sailor. After such worry the final task before leaving the country was of course to scour the aisles of wine at the local supermarché, presents for friends and family, and myself.
With my first ever months of full time sailing under my belt I am confident that this is far better than a real job, and I hope that it can continue it into 2016.