Tis the season to be sailing.
A festive themed title? Yes it must be Christmas! What have you asked for from Santa? I hope he is bringing me lots of nautical gifts, and maybe I could take a few of his elves to work on my boat over the holiday. In reality however I can see my first days of 2017 being very busy on the boat as the countdown to racing seems to speed up. Anyway this month I have been sailing in these very short but surprisingly mild days, mostly against Mary on 21 but in the beginning of the month I was sailing on a monster.
The Volvo 70 Monster Project’s new owner very rightly decided he didn’t want to sail in England for the winter; he wants to be in Barbados. Barbados is about 3500 miles away and will take many many days to get there. The first 500 miles were likely to be the worst from Southampton to Lisbon, Portugal. The new owner decided he would fly back to Thailand and let 6 hardy sailors complete this section. Lucky for me (one of the hardy sailors) we had some excellent weather to cross the English Channel, and more crucially the Bay of Biscay, a formidable stretch of water I had yet to cross.
The Volvo 70s are notoriously cool boats, carbon fibre throughout with a big mast and too much power. Just hoisting the mainsail is a mission. As the goal was just to make it south without damage the boat wasn’t released to its full potential, unfortunately. Even so the speed of about 15knts-20knts was faster than a lot of the shipping in the Channel. The first long night was extremely cold, regrettably I didn’t bring any gloves for this and rarely allowed my hands out of my pockets. The extreme cold was due to a cloudless night sky, and with a perfect new moon it was like I floating in space, bright stars in every direction.
We reduced our sail area massively in preparation for night two, in the middle of the Bay of Biscay with 25knts forecasted. It was just a small taste of what this expansive stretch of water could serve up; big heavy waves broke over the deck. I was fixated by the oncoming waves’ crest and drove the 70 foot yacht to avoid the worst of it. It was a man versus nature experience. We moored the boat up in A Coruna, North West of Spain, to await the big trip across the ocean. A very successful and very fun journey.
The rest of December has been filled with training on the little Figaro. One week training out of Portland, waters of the British Sailing Team and an area Mary and I know all too well. And another week over in Cherbourg with a couple of Frenchies. Some serious work has gone into the boat handling and racing but the Channel crossings allowed us to work on our speed and strategy, a perfect combination.
Lots to reflect on over Christmas, both on and off the water. Most importantly, how do I raise the money to compete? Reflection with a good money making mind map.
Merry Christmas everybody.