Another November passes with plenty of chilly sailing but without the ability to grow a good thick moustache. The mourning of my appendix has passed and I am now able to pull ropes and grind winches, yay. Having the time to get back out onto my Figaro again has injected my 2017 campaign with a new energy, enough to make it through the cold and dark winter I hope.
4 years ago I watched 20 skippers embark on a round the world solo race, I didn’t fully understand the Vendée Globe but it did brainwashed me a little. “Wouldn’t spending 3 months on my own racing in the most uncomfortable seas be the best thing?!” I thought to myself. This year on November 6th I spent half my day watching the boats dock out and travel up the canal to the applause of hundreds of thousands of people, and eat popcorn. I polished my sponsorship proposal for the rest of the day.
The once Artemis Offshore Academy run by OC Sport is now; The Offshore Academy, run by Fourth Cape. Without Artemis the Profit Hunter’s investment OC didn’t exactly fight to keep a hold of Britain’s only offshore training academy. But with more energy and control the Academy is working hard to continue its success in sailing, as long as its sailors deliver, so the pressure is on me.
The mighty 23 is still in my possession, she has had a tough summer and needs some tender loving care, but I am fixing her up and will tune her for a better performance in 2017. In training 23 has proven to be a heavy work horse, not yet a thoroughbred, but “heavy is good, heavy is reliable”. Three Figaros got out onto the Solent to train together; of course it was blowing cold dogs off chains. It was perfect conditions to blow away some cobwebs and fill my brain up with more experience on the water.
‘Variety is the spice of life’, and with this philosophy I tried my hand at match racing with Mary Rook at the helm, Will Harris on the bow, Alan Sign (Olympian) on main trim and myself on jib trim. An experienced team indeed, however only Mary had really done match racing before and she was a little rusty. Day 1 of the National Match Racing Finals went horrendously badly, with all of us running around like headless chickens on a boat. Fortunately we gave ourselves a good talking too for the second day and gained a place in the quarter finals, top 8 teams out of the 12 starters. We won our match to be in the top 4, and then winning the first race of the semi-finals victory seemed in sight. Unfortunately after two very close races we were beaten 2:1. The fairy tale story was over, but later winning the playoffs we were rewarded with a lovely glass tumbler, with ‘3rd’ written on it.
This month’s adventures will run into to December as I set off on board ‘Monster Project’, a very powerful Volvo 70 with all the bells and whistles of a top racing machine. The trip from The Hamble River to Lisbon is 900 miles and should take about 4-5 days, but no rushing. I hope to stay warm, dry and safe because these boats bite. See you soon.