A question of money…

Thank you so much for all your kind comments on the blogs; I really get a kick from that fact that people enjoy reading these little snippets of a sailing life.

A recurring comment over the last year or so has been the question as to how I am funding this sailing campaign and so this blog is dedicated to the question of funding.

Running a full time sailing campaign is something many of us dream of doing, and only a hand full will ever make happen. It requires a massive amount of dedication, organisation, an ability to globally manage a project, sacrifice many other aspects of your life and of course in addition it requires money!

A mini campaign is an interesting case to study as there is a sliding scale of funding with which to fund your campaign and I have a spreadsheet with five different budgets labelled starting with ‘I’ll just make it to the line’ and ranging to ‘full time racing campaign’.

Regardless of talent funding and management of your budget do have an end effect on your performance and of course whether or not you even make it to the line.

Money is not something that I have ever focussed on in my blogs; I guess I have felt that it’s sort of a tainted subject, it affects us all and raises most of our stress levels – I am lucky to be doing what I am doing and no one wants to hear about my financial stresses and strains, they want to read about sailing and for some it is an escape to a different world for a couple of minutes.

However I am sure that there are those out there who would like to make the jump; who dream of doing something else or who are just plain curious about how I have made it happen. So here it is a guide to a series mini transat budget.

First of all you need to have a boat; there are three options here you can buy a boat, you can get a sponsor to buy, lend or give you a boat or you could charter one.

The average cost of a racing mini all kitted out is between 55 and 62,000 Euros. I bought my boat using my life savings; I have always lived on a boat rather than a house which has kept the cost of living down a lot over my life time and enabled me to make this investment now.

I bought a boat that had not been raced so it was cheaper at the outset but I needed to kit it out to racing spec. For this I have been incredibly fortunate to work with some amazing trade sponsors who have helped me equip the boat at minimal cost.

The boat of course will depreciate as you use it but with racing mini’s of a high standard, as long as you look after them you should get a chunk of your money back at the end.

Once you have the boat you need to decide where on the sliding scale your campaign will fall, and this will determine your budget.

Over the two years it is possible to organise qualifying, training and racing around a full time job, strategically using holidays and getting extra time off for the big event itself – the bonus of this of course is that you are able in some way to keep afloat in everyday life and mortgages, phone bills, road tax can still all be paid. However the down side is of course less sailing and you often need to employ others to work on your boat and move it around if you cannot take the time off.

At the complete opposite end of the scale are the full time professionals, who dedicate their whole lives to training, working on and racing the boat; this way of running a campaign naturally requires an income from another source to pay for every day life; either private funds or a salary from a sponsor. However it is giving the sailor the best chances of success, to improve their skills, develop their boat; normal life just ticking along ,eyes and mind focussed on the end goal – a result in the mini transat.

This is never cut and dry and though at the moment there are quite a few full time campaigns on the track, most of whom I am currently training with in Lorient; the mini circuit is huge, over 350 sailors took part in events last year and all of those will have been managing their lives and budgets in different ways.

For me at the start there was little choice about the work / sailing balance; I had decided to run a campaign to the transat in 10 months and that meant I had to qualify by competing in the first races of the season or risk making all the investment in the boat but not getting to the race.

I had a great kick start training with the Artemis Academy in La Grand Motte and then after that I was on my own, driving up and down through Europe busting a gut to get qualified.

To give me the flexibility I needed to make this happen I took out a personal loan against the value of ‘The Shed’ the Lightwave 395 which has been my home for the past ten years.

This process of qualification took three months and it was three months where I could do nothing else. But it worked.

Once qualified I returned to the UK with the boat and then attempted to balance the elements of working as a professional skipper and sailing instructor, preparing the boat, training where possible and finding sponsorship to get me through the transat itself.

It’s a fine balance and one which I am sure will ring true with any other sailors trying to make it work. Do you invest all your time in the search for a sponsor, so neglecting your training and if you come up with the funds risking your performance? Or do you train and sail focussing on your own performance but at the expense of finding the budget to actually get there?

Again it’s that sliding scale and in truth sponsors require a lot more than just a good sailor to justify their investment in your campaign, you need to start thinking of yourself and your campaign as a business and the sailing is just a part of it; like with any business time and resources need to be split between investing in the assets you already have and speculating to find others who will invest in your campaign.

Last year I found my balance and until the summer kept investing in my campaign by taking out further loans against my boat and working as hard as I could in the interim. In the last two months in the lead up to the race I was fortunate enough to sign three sponsors, whose injection of cash enabled me to buy new sails, finish the refit of my boat and get to the line in reasonably good form.

The trade off had been a complete lack of training over the summer, in the absence of any programme in the UK I sailed alone in the evenings and on days I had no work and though I turned up to the transat with a reasonable mileage in the mini, through 2011 I had no boat on boat training with other mini’s and this definitely affected my performance.

Fast forward to 2012 and I am now three months into my 2013 transat campaign. My personal funds are all run out; ‘The Shed’ is up for sale to cover the loans from last years transat and the realms of what I can achieve on personal funds are very curtailed.

Taking the positive outlook and believing I can make it work I decided at the beginning of this year that the investment I would make in myself would be early in the season in the form of training in Lorient with one of the best mini coaches there is; this has already paid off in spades, my boat speed has improved I have learned an enormous amount and am on the water with guys who were in the top five last year; watching them, chasing them, aspiring to sail like them.

To fund being here I have downsized my life. I rounded up all of my possessions and identified the things I can live without and have sold or am selling it all to pay for training and living expenses during the months of March and April while I will be in France. I am living in my van or on the mini and think hard about every mile I drive and every item I purchase.

This may seem a little extreme but early season training is a set up for the whole of the rest of the year; my objective for this campaign is to improve on the skill I already have, not just to do the miles but to achieve better results, to increase my level of competition and move forward. With that goal in mind, a good start to the season is high enough a priority to demand such a sacrifice.

For the rest of the year the balance will adjust to reflect the different needs of the ‘business’ adjusting to the circumstances I am in and heavy on the hunt for sponsors. Without a sponsor I will not be able to carry on, so strategically I am hoping this early boost to the training will take me through any lean sailing months ahead where the demands of real life may keep me off the water.

It’s a complicated equation and of course one that involves risk. I have risked spending my life savings but at no point will I ever regret the decisions I have made. One of the great pleasures in life has to be developing a skill and attempting to excel in that field. Aside from the immense pleasure I get from sailing in general; to push myself to the limits in solo sailing and compete at an international level has been one of the greatest achievements of my life to date, I am proud of what I have done and though I am determined to carry on with this career if it does not work out I will have no hard feelings.

For anyone reading this blog and wondering when, how or if they can make the jump in any sport or project my advice would be that actually taking the jump is the biggest step of all; but it is only a tiny percentage of people who will get offered a deal without making an initial investment themselves.

If you really want to do it then don’t hang around waiting to be given something; go out and start on whatever terms you can, it may be a small beginning but at least it is a beginning; your own circumstances and personal goals will shape the course of your project and whether you succeed or not, whether you find a sponsor who will invest in your campaign or you go as far as you can on your own steam, the action of actually trying and investing in yourself is something you will be proud of for the rest of your life.

Training in Lorient

The last five days have gone past in a blur.

I know they have gone past; there are tell tale signs. Like the rough skin forming into wear pads on the palms of my hands, the marks in permanent pen all over my boat, a job list that nearly reaches my toes and a note book bulging with golden nuggets of information from the debriefs and my time on the water.

The training is intensive; our coach is Tanguy Leglatin, a well respected coach for many of the single handed disciplines in France, who has no off switch.

Turn up at 8 and get the boat ready (not such a big deal for me as I am sleeping in my van at the top of the ramp). Briefing on the dock, boat rigged at 9 am; this is just a run through of the days exercises and a presentation of rig settings.

Then off. If you are not ready you are not coming. There is no waiting and so from the moment we push off engineless from the dock we have to think about sailing fast, even to keep up with the pack to get to the area of the first start of the day. A couple of times now I have still had my spinnaker up when the first four minute warning has gone.

The days have been a mixture of speed testing; where the boats line up with the same sails, sailing in the same direction and we are able to try subtle differences in trim and tuning to see what effect this has on our boat speed and course in relation to the others.

Then practice starts, a small race of around two hours. Sail changing exercises, gybing, tacking, upwind settings, downwind settings. The day just disappears in a blur of manouvres, sails and endless coiling of ropes, which just seem to undo themselves and revert to the big pile of spaghetti that has become the trade mark of my cockpit.

It’s so bad the coach took a photo of my cockpit to show during the debrief as an example of a mess! Oh the shame!

Everything is done in French, which face to face is not a problem but I have been struggling to understand the scratchy and windblown language over the VHF, the radio takes away any intonation that would make the words understandable; we have come to a compromise where if I do not react to a command, it is reissued in English.

At the end of the day we sail our way back up past the ancient citadel often tacking against the furious tide around the viscous rocky outcrops and back into the Submarine Base.

The debrief is an hour and a half, and this is when we really understand the huge knowledge that is being passed on to us.

Using video footage from the day we dissect every aspect of every exercise; sail shape, boat on boat positioning, rig tuning, sail selection, stacking and angle of heel. Through the eyes of Tanguy from off the boat we can clearly see what we have done well or not. If only it was so easy to judge from onboard.

My brain and my body have been exhausted. It’s been a fulll immersion back into racing the mini, and also into the French language.

I started off staggering behind, trying to keep up both physically and mentally but fairly quickly it came back, and then some.

I have learned more in the last five days than I have learned in at least six months on the mini. I have sharpened up my techniques, started to calibrate and record settings and information and am keen to keep improving.

The standard of the group is high; including me there are four pogo 2’s a Nacira and a tip top, two women four men. These guys are good!

I have always been of the opinion that to improve you need to sail with people who are better than yourself, and this I am doing now. There is not one moment when I can give less than 100% or I will be spat out of the back of the pack. Thinking, doing, remembering and then writing it all down.

On top of all of this I have started to run again to keep my cardio vascular fitness in line with the rest of my training. This will be a slow progression back to my old form and is not always an easy thing to consider after a hard day on the water. But I am determined to get back to form and to run a half marathon before the year is out.

I’ve managed 25 miles this week and have gone from creaking and groaning to slightly stiff! This is not going to come back as easily as the sailing no matter how good the coach!

Wake Up

I have been quiet for a while; this space has been blog free.

Returning back to the UK mid winter, after the finish of the Mini Transat last December was difficult to deal with; the stark contrast between a bright and colourful Brazil late spring and grey England close to mid winter was like a plunge in an ice bath, every sense in shock.

I stumbled through December, catching up with friends and family, and started off 2012 at the London Boatshow giving spinnaker handling demonstrations, making presentations in the Knowledge box about the mini transat and visiting my trade partners who supported me through the 2011 campaign, thanking them personally and re-establishing our continued partnerships for the next years.

Then January slid by.

It’s not really a question of adjusting back to life now; my life has never been that uniform for me to settle back into a routine. I have always been self employed, taking work where and when I can, making the most of opportunity not knowing when it will turn up next. The winter is always a tough time for UK based sailors, and I have been hibernating.

February has come and I was jolted back to life last week when I went mountain biking in Wales.

I lost a lot of muscle mass in my legs during the mini transat and my Cardio vascular fitness is not what it was. Unsurprising really when you consider the mini is only 6.5m long and most of your time is spent sitting down while sailing the thing; and if you go for a stroll it is a matter of strides before you reach the water at either end. So I have been running and biking to try to get this fitness back.

I took a day off from sponsorship proposals, emails and accounts to drive to Wales with my friend Iain and we spent a beautiful day in the snow following a black trail in the Mountain bike park at Brechfa.

The park was amazing; with 10cm of snow on the ground in places we were totally alone with the elements.

The ground crunched under the weight of our wheels, puddles with thick ice over them cracked or not to reveal muddy freezing water. The amazing contrast between the bright white snow, the green moss and lichen and the grey stone of the drop offs and brown hard packed earth on the switch backs assaulted my senses.

Screaming down hill, the icy air colliding with my face woke me up from hibernation and made me focus on my journey ahead.

Mountain biking is just like running an ocean racing campaign. It is an uphill slog, it takes effort, skill and determination to get to the top, sometimes you have to get off and push but you will always get on again and keep pushing because the prize is the downhill – over in a flash but so good it’s worth climbing a hill for.

I know what I want next!

I want to again represent Britain in the 2013 mini transat. I want to race hard and gain a top five result.

I am part way up the hill, I have the boat, I have continued support from my trade partners, I have a transat under my belt and I am already qualified for the 2013 race.

The next two years will be climbs and descents of training and racing but to make it all work I have to give everything I have, work as hard as I can on improving my skills, staying fit, learning more about every aspect of Ocean racing, improving and competing. This will all be offset with a full and busy race schedule.

The big uphill for me is finding sponsors to support me in this campaign; and that is going to be a hard slog but I to date I have never failed on reaching my goals. I am rested and recovered from the aftermath of 2011; I am already on the path and pedalling hard.

Mini Transat 2013 – It has started!

I sailed like a muppet today.

I don’t know why, I just did; nothing went right, I made foolish beginners mistakes. The boat felt fine, it felt good but I was just sailing like an imbecile.

I hate that. I hate it when I know I can do better than I am, and when there is no reason for my ineptitude.

Actually there is a reason; and it was straight away identified by my coach who was alongside the boat shouting, ‘Peeep! What are you doing????’ (needs to be done with a French accent). ‘Where is your head? You are not in the boat!’

And he was right. My head was not in the boat today. I had a bad nights sleep, woke up at 1am and was awake counting checklists and medical kits and rules and routes and food and cradles until 4.30.

On that front I am getting through the checklists, but in particular the super star hero of the week badge goes to Ian Preston of Prestons Welding, who made my boat trailer.

In exasperation at my difficulties of trying to get my cradle to France I rang Ian a couple of days ago just to see if he had any ideas; and he has been on the case ever since, calling people, asking his mates and contacts; just to help me out.

And hey presto, the cradle which the Artemis Offshore Academy are lending to me to ship my boat back in after the race, will tomorrow be picked up from Cowes and by various means will make it’s way down to me in La Rochelle before the start.

Thank You Ian!

So one more problem has dissolved away and I must look at the others square on and tackle them one by one.

From now on I will be making a strict schedule and keeping to it, a time for work, a time to sort problems and a time to sail; no breaking of the boundaries and a real effort to fit everything in.

There have been too many other things crowding my head for me to sail properly and today was a great day to be on the water; it just would have been nice to take my head with me.

Get it right

It’s been time to slow down a bit. I am all at some crazy speed, trying to get as many jobs done in a short a time as possible so I can get out on the water with my new sails from Parker and Kay East; but it’s not the right way to go about things.

There is a ‘Zero’ at the end of the dock, just in front of the gangway when I walk down to the boat.

The Zero is a series boat, interesting because it has a Cathedral rig; this is where the top spreaders are bigger than the bottom spreaders, with separate shrouds, which allow a large genoa with a good inboard sheeting lead.

This zero looks in good condition, it arrived with the owner the other day and we helped him put his mast up, stepping it using two other mini rigs.

The boat is sponsored, by whom I am not sure but the logo on the side of the boat says, ‘Get it Right’.

It’s good that this boat is there, because it has really made me think and really put the brakes on.

Yes, it’s true; I want to go sailing, I feel that every waking hour I should be out there, melding with my boat and becoming happy to be at sea.

But there are jobs to be done, and these jobs need to be done well., which means doing them slowly.

So I have backed off the gas and in the last couple of days I have installed my new EFOY fuel cell from UPS systems one of my new trade sponsors, I have also installed the extra loud and annoying alarm made by Andrew Wood of solo sails, who a mini sailor himself has a first hand idea of just how easy it is not to wake up.

Every wire I have installed has been soldered first, then pulled and twisted to check the strength of the connection.

In installing the fuel cell I have had to re-sight a compass, and with that drill new holes and properly fill old ones; snip cable ties, and re-secure them in better places, rather than just adding more.

I have noticed loose or corroded electrics on the way and put them right.

This little boat is going to Brazil; it’s a long way and there may be some rough water to cross in the interim.

I need it to hold together. I need it to work as hard as I will be; so as much as the inside of me is screaming that the breeze is great, the harbour entrance is just there and I should be sailing; the head on my shoulders is staying calm, looking at the Zero as I head back and forth to my van; getting it right.

Finally I’ve made a friend in the Solent!

Though this week has been incredibly productive for my training, I have still been suffering from having no other mini’s to sail against in the Solent so I was over the moon to receive a message from Jake Jefferis and news that after recovering from a back injury he is just about fit enough now to come sailing.

I met Jake first at the Southampton Boatshow last year, it was just after English Braids had agreed to sponsor me with rope for my campaign.

Jake has designed and built his own prototype, all carbon with a canting keel, in his back garden in Bosham. He has funded all himself and made all himself, even to the extent that when he broke the Aluminium mast he had taken off an old Mills prototype, and he did not have the funds to buy a new mast, he built himself a new one out of carbon.

As I had just had my boat completely re-roped with English Briads and I knew that he did not have the funds to buy new rope for his new mast, Jake left the show with carrier bags full of the ropes I had taken off, which are now part of the running rigging on ‘Mad Dog’.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove with Guillaume Rotee, who has been coaching me for the last week in the Solent, to a leafy garden off Chichester harbour to take a first look at this crazy beast that is mini 794.

The first thing I saw in the garden was Blue 2, which is an old Mills design that was built by my friend Paul Peggs – the mini world is small!!

On the slipway was an all black, full on looking carbon mini, which was pretty different from my little red boat; a truly distant cousin with little family resemblance but the give away characteristics of being only 6.5m long with a stupidly tall mast.

It was great to see the boat and though it is different to mine, it will be invaluable to go out on the water and train together; to line up against each other and compare relative speeds and course; to make little adjustments and see what relative change they have.

We have agreed to two boat train this week and will be competing in the Double handed round the island race next weekend; racing the boats under the IRC rule will be painful as we are rated the same as some 40fters, but to us the others are irrelevant – there will only be two boats in this race.

Training in the Solent

Summer has arrived in the Solent and I have been making the most of the sea breeze to test my settings and sails with French coach Guillaume Rottee who has come over to England to help me. 

There has been the atmosphere of a little training camp in the UK with many of the artemis academy members in the UK at the moment; last week I went out on speed tests with Sam Goodchild, Conrad Humphries and Nigel King as they readied themselves for the upcoming Figaro Solitaire.

This week it was my turn to test the boat and each morning we have looked at settings and boat set up, then headed over to the Artemis Academy base in Cowes to pick up the rib and go out sailing. 

I have been mostly interested in sail shape and relative speed, and spent a whole day following Guillaume round in the RIB while he sailed my boat, changing the shape of the sails as I requested, pulling on backstay. 

This may seem an odd thing to do as I am the one who will be sailing the boat across the Atlantic but it was an invaluable day, as I was able to watch, record with photographs and video the different sail shapes, and we tracked the difference in speed and course using a GPS tracker on the mobile phone. 

With this information I can build up a clear picture of which sail shapes are fast in which conditions, and exactly how I will replicate those sail shapes when I am racing. Now I have seen the sail shapes from the outside of the boat, it gives me more of a three dimensional idea of  how they should look and when I am in the boat and will help me to understand what shape I am trying to create, instead of just moving the ropes in or out like a robot. 

Yesterday I worked on my helming, trying to focus on the angle the boat was heeling at as a priority; I spent the afternoon helming with my eyes closed, feeling the boat and feeling my way forward. As I progressed with that skill Guillaume announced I must then helm the boat with my eyes closed and facing backwards so that I could not feel the wind on my face………….. I am still not clear at which point in the race this will be a winning strategy; but hey, if the French coach says it works!! 

I am however, not the only one who has been at work. I owe a huge thank you to Ian Couper who has given my online life a bit of a much needed dust off and brush up. I now have a Pip Hare Ocean Racing Facebook page, so will be able to put up some more pictures and video of my training this month. 

Tomorrow I am having another ‘mini break’ and am proud to again be the skipper of the all female team entered in the Polypipe regatta in Portsmouth. 

This is a regular event for me and a big fundraiser for selected charities; every man that we beat in the regatta must pay up, and I have a good feeling about this year, we intend to lighten a few wallets.

Lonesome me……

I went for a sail yesterday.

The first time in the mini since the Fastnet; it was great to be out on the Solent on a windy day, dodging the sandbanks, ferries and corporate racing fleets; but boy, did I feel alone.

Not another mini in sight.

For now I am grounded in the UK; my funds have run out and I cannot carry on with the rest of the racing and training that is going on in France.

The MAP single handed race starts tomorrow from Douardonez and I am feeling pretty miserable that I am not there to profit from the racing, training, experience and be with the rest of the crazy people who will be sailing across the Atlantic this September.

Over the next couple of months, I will be working and making a big push to try and find the rest of my expenses through sponsorship to cover my race costs and if possible to return to France and carry on training with other mini’s in the build up to the start.

Until then I will stay in the UK and I realised yesterday how important it is that I make a proper structure for my training and make the most of what I have here on my doorstep. It would be very easy to go out everyday and just sail up and down without purpose; but I need to define what I want to achieve each day and make sure that I have learned / practiced something and there is a way to self debrief and benefit from each day on the water.

I have decided to run my days much as we did at CEM, with exercise first thing, a morning of work writing and following up sponsorship leads, then take to the water after lunch with an objective in mind.

Though I cannot compare my boatspeed with others the areas I feel I can work on are manoeuvres, sail selection, boat settings – though I cannot compare my speed against another boat I will have to be meticulous about recording my own data, speed, wind angles, wind speed etc, fitness and familiarity around the boat, sailing at night.

I will also be able to start looking at and analysing the weather for the race, listening to the broadcasts from meteo france on the SSB and starting to make my road book for the big event.

So enough moping! Yes, I wish I was with the others; but this is me, here, now. I will make the most of where I am and the people I have around me.

I will keep a diary of what I do each day to monitor my progress; I believe I can self coach and prepare my self in isolation from the other boats, it’s just going to take discipline and motivation…… what this space!

A life in bits

On a plane again……………

The joys of easyjet and Gatwick airport, overpriced water, endless seemingly pointless waiting, an oh so important day lost in travelling, buses, trains, planes; and there are only 171 precious days left to the start of the transat.

The last couple of weeks have been very tough for me; full; too full and lived at break neck speed trying to pull all the elements of my life together and just make it all work.

After finishing my qualifier I hopped straight on a plane and returned to England to work, no break, no extra sleep, and straight back into it. But it’s important to work and I am not in a position to make my Transat campaign the only focus in life.

I am self employed so not only is the money from working essential but maintaining my company, keeping my clients, making sure when I have finished the transat there will be something to come home to.

The net result of sailing 1000 miles alone and then going straight to work was that I became run down and then ill, developing a persistent and nasty infection which started in my chest with a painful and annoying cough, then moved to my sinus and my eyes before being caught by a French doctor, thoroughly beaten with three different types of medication and told not to return in a hurry.

It seems for the whole of March I was on the run, tired and unwell and I have a lot of people to thank for getting me through it all in staggering form.

I have had an almost impossible schedule of packing up the boat, towing it over 1000 kilometres, unpacking, racing, repacking, towing again, all before returning to work in the UK last week.

It would have been impossible for me to do all this alone, I was in poor health, and over tired so I owe a huge and very genuine amount of thanks to the guys who have gone out of their way to help me; packing up my boat in the rain when I was in a different country, driving with me and my boat through the night while I slept with my head at an impossible angle in the passenger seat, painting numbers on the deck, getting me through my first safety control check, racing with me, keeping me focussed and on the right path, dealing with my meltdowns at 2am towing a bright red boat through the centre of Genoa, subbing me money when my credit card reached its limit.

Sam ‘the Goodchild’ winner of the Artemis Acadmey Figaro Scholarship, Guillaume Rottee coach at CEM, Paul ‘trucking’ Peggs mini addict, the one and only great Flash Harris (requires no further introduction) and of course my Mum and Dad; Thank you is a pathetic word to cover just how grateful I am.

This week of work in the UK has been the last now until May.

I am much better and looking forward to getting back to Italy and being genuinely ready for the Italian Grand Prix which starts on April 17th.

It has been a strange week, trying to hold together all the strands of my life and stop it all unravelling.

My main focus is always on the mini; when I am not training I feel guilty, I feel the pressure and in my mind I can see the big clock ticking down.

I work as a sailing coach and yacht skipper so have been out sailing every day and trying to snatch five minutes at lunch time to organise the purchase and collection of equipment in France, logistical arrangements in Italy, and chasing along trying to grab at those elusive leads on finding a title sponsor for my campaign.

In the UK I live on my boat, ‘the Shed’, which I competed in the OSTAR and Round Britain and Ireland race; she is 21 years old and feeling very neglected. All boats of that age need love, they need attention and maintenance to keep them up to scratch and my sad boat is the bottom of the pile. So long as she is floating and my duvet is dry the job list grows and I am unable to do anything about it.

When I am abroad, training and working on the mini, evenings are spent on the internet, catching up on the tax return (I missed the deadline !), answering emails, chasing sponsorship, surfing money between credit cards and writing.

And so the racing is a pleasure.

The treadmill I have put myself on is running fast and I have to keep up or I will fall over.

To race is to get off; to step out into the fresh air and to run in the open.

My life is no longer in pieces spread around me; it is in one place; on the boat. All that matters is the race, the sea, the sails, the boat, the course. I relish the opportunity to take all that intensity and bring in into one focus. This is my prize and to compete in the transat in September will be the biggest rollover of them all.