Dear new and sparkly 2017 followers my apologies for the delay of this update I have been having a truly horrible Christmas experience. I’ve been suffering from a terrible winter plague and have spent the whole merry time coughing, spluttering and filling several million tissues. My family are well and truly fed up of me moaning and having eaten little due to defunct tasting buds and not a bean of alcopops having entered my lips, its time to return to normality and get stuck into 2017.
I hope you all have had a much better December and here is a little recap of what I got up to on those last few dark days of 2016.
Firstly I got some new branding with thanks to www.spyvelo.com in cowes, its exceptionally bright and pink and I love it. It will be handy when I forget my own name out at sea, all alone and tired out of my little brain.
I also got a few more useful bits for calibrating all my control lines and sheet positions, which are helping me to compose the spreadsheet of all spreadsheets with magical, super rapid, figaro settings for 2017!
The wind did lots of ups and downs providing us with plenty of challenges to keep the boat going as fast as possible. We had a lovely sail across Poole bay as the sun set we were battling and jostling for the tactical advantage into the impending darkness.
As the temperature plummeted and the light fell I donned my pink smurf headgear and headed into the shore. Making the most of the tidal rip around the Swanage headland and navigating the enormous wind against tide waves, that picked the boat up and threw us down again in the inky black darkness.
As a location for speed training Weymouth is ideal, as in the bay there is almost 180 degrees of open sea and so the wind is clear and unaffected by the land and the tide. Although still strong, it is even between two boats sailing next to each other, where as in the Solent where we usually train the tide can be 2-5 knots faster on one boat sailing just a few metres away from another.
We were lucky enough to be able to stay with some of my wonderful olympian friends Charlotte Dobson and Dylan Fletcher and therefore not having to sleep on the damp and highly chilly Figaro over night.
The next day we did some great speed trials despite the fog and drizzle that surrounded the bay rendering Portland completely invisible.
The final day we were joined by Nick Cherry and Will Harris (figaro super stars) for the race back home and we had some amazing, zippy, fast spinnaker up, massive wave conditions.
With the weekend on dry land we took the opportunity to enjoy some lovely wintery walks with lots of dear friends, followed by tea and cakes by the pub fire of course.
Then on monday morning we were off again, this time over to Cherbourg and to train with the French. The weather started out pretty miserable and here you an see me concerned about leaving the shores of Blighty behind me and heading out into the wind and waves for a solo channel crossing.
Usually the prevailing wind direction is a nice fast angle that gets you over to the land of croissants in 10 hours but for our little trip it turned dead south and therefore upwind against us so after leaving at 10am we arrived in at midnight.
We were staying on board a luxury boat in the marina which was promised to have all the mod cons and be very lovely, however Cherbourg marina is HUGE and we had to park our figaro’s at the other end and no joke it took us 30 minutes to walk/march around and find our sleeping vessel.
After a lovely night of rocking and rolling as the fishing boats entered and left the marina we awoke and reported to the sailing school where we were met by our French training partners and coach, ready and raring for a week of sailing.
It was a tough week, Nico the coach showed no mercy chucking us straight into short course racing which solo in a 33ft boat is very tiring I can tell you.
The boat we were staying on continued to rock and roll and the promised heating and warm water didn’t work so much and I spent the whole week surrounded by no less than 10 woolly layers and here is what I thought of that, in picture form…
Luckily the sail home on Friday night was an absolute blast, 25knots up the bum made it very fast downwind sailing all through the night. We made it all the way to touching distance from the Wight Isle and the wind died off completely leaving us to motor the last few miles with the tide arriving at dawn (7.30 at this time of year) and finally a good old cooked English breakfast.
Returning home just in time for Joan our fleet captains Birthday party – look how happy we are!
Happy New Year Everybody!