Teaming up with the RG650

 

I am excited to announce my entry into the next mini race later in August. The 500 mile Grand Huit; a single handed course starting from La Grand Motte in the South of France and racing around Menorca and back in a figure of eight course.

This race is the largest single handed race in the Mediterranean with a current field of 27 entries.

However the news from me is that I will be competing as the skipper of the new series boat on the block the RG650.

Designed by Argentinean Nicolas Goldenburg and commissioned by Katabatic Sailing in Spain this beast is the next generation on from my own much loved Pogo 2.

I first went to sail the RG in February this year, having seen the boat first when Bret Perry, Director of Katabatic Sailing brought it to the start of the transat in 2011. Even with little breeze on a sunny day in Valencia it was obvious the boat had speed and since then I have been trying to get out for a race to see what it could actually do.

It is going to be odd racing a boat that is not the Pogo 2; I am so used to the way that boat handles, I understand intuitively how to make it go faster and what the boat needs to keep it in balance. In effect I have tamed it.

I imagine that racing in the RG will be akin to jumping for the first time onto a wild stallion. We know it is a fast boat, it has raw power and it wants to go but I will have to work hard to understand how to make the most out of the boat; to think on my feet and try to learn its handling characteristics. No doubt at some point I will get thrown off. (That is a metaphor by the way – I have no intention of ending up in the sea….. ever!)

The course for the Grand Huit is technically demanding; the Mediterranean at this time of year can throw up many different weather conditions and local effects. It will be an ideal opportunity to really get the boat going and see what it is capable of.

I am excited. Many thanks to Bret and Nicolas for allowing me to skipper the boat in this race; its game on!

Solent 650 preparation

The boat is prepped. Lunch is on the table and I am sitting next to my co-skipper Christa ten Brinke waiting to go.

The course for the Solent 650 is over 200 miles of the best sailing the south coast can offer. Strong tides, fickle winds and seven mini’s who all want to win.

We start off Lymington at 1500 this afternoon and the course will take us East around the isle of Wight, back to the Needles Fairway bouy, over to Poole and then a long stretch to the end of the world as they knew it – Wolf Rock, perched just off Lands End.

We round the rock to Stbd and then leg it back into Plymouth and the warm welcome as always at the Royal Western Yacht Club.

I am as ever, nervous excited and looking forward to sailing, this time with a great friend.

Many Many thanks to Keith Willis our race organiser and PRO, and Lymington Town Sailing club. Also to my sponsors who have also sponsored this race, namely Flag Antifouling, Barton Marine and Fuel Cell Systems. Thank you guys yet again for supporting our fantastic sport.

And the fog rolled in

It has been a long day of fiddling, getting my boat back up to racing spec and noting all the wear and tear that our head long charge across the Atlantic has caused.

Frustratingly the kind of day where one simple task seems to take 1000 complicated steps, mostly due to the consequences of leaving the boat damp over Christmas.

Dusting everything off and firing it up again, I am finding tiny things that are not quite perfect; mostly caused by corrosion; the boat owner’s nemesis.

One such problem was with my autopilot system. I fired up the computer and that worked fine, but when I plugged in the trusty ram that had taken me all the way on leg two of the transat, there was no action.

I tried the second and then the third ram but still no life.

The first tool to reach for in these circumstances is always going to be the multimeter; even on a boat as basic and tiny as the mini, a multimeter is an essential piece of kit and goes everywhere with you. A failure in the electrical system could mean no pilot, no lights, no navigation system, no communication; and though as a practical sailor I am confident I could carry on without the help of all things electrical, it does rather remove your competitive edge.

My multimeter appeared from the plastic box that has been its home for the past few months and flatly refused to power up. A new battery did not help matters, it had got wet and that was game over for this piece of kit.

And so a small job of plugging in the pilots turned into a marathon, a van safari to the closest DIY store, getting lost of course in French rush hour traffic on the way.

By the time I returned to the boat a thick fog had rolled up the estuary and was sitting heavy over the submarine base. It was getting late in the evening so the cloud took on an eeery green light made all the more spooky by the ominous form of the Submarine silos looming over me in the murk.

I was alone on my boat, water from the fog dripping off the shrouds and rigging. I dropped a tool and the small clatter from my boat, travelled into the open submarine silo opposite, transforming to a large boom which bounced around off the walls and came back at me.

The submarine base is an amazing place to be, the constant activity creates a buzz such as I have never experienced before. The Figaros have been out training over the last week, Banque Populaire sits resplendent in the middle of the marina; 40’s are being lifted in and out, weighed and of course the minis buzz around it all, often being towed behind other boats and always active.

It would be a nice idea to set up a camera for the day doing time lapse photography of the base. It would be fascinating to watch.

But despite the buzz, yesterday I was reminded of the sinister purpose of the huge buildings around us. The silos were built by the Germans when they occupied Lorient during the Second World War to house their submarines.

They are ugly and functional and indestructible.

How lucky we are to live in safer happier times now and particularly in the mini class 19 nations sail, compete and share a genuine lover of our sport together.

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There can be only one!


The one design aspect of the series class, was something that seriously appealed to me when I made my decision to buy a pogo 2 for the mini transat.

Though there are several different designs of boat within the series class we all have similar and specific features; fixed keels, no ballast, aluminium spars.

This makes perfect sense to me, the race is played out more on the water and less in the design office before hand, which is better for me as I have already mentioned, I am not a great tweaker, so all the innovation of moving keels and ballast and tweaky rigs would be wasted on me until I have learned a bit more.

However one aspect of the series class that is open to development and new designs is the sail wardrobe; and this is something I have greatly enjoyed working on over the last couple of months.

It has been a great privilege once again to team up with John Parker, sail designer from OneSails GBR on this project.

I already worked with John for the OSTAR when he guided me through the decisions I needed to make to convert my 39ft round the cans racer cruiser, to a single handed ocean racing boat.

This time we are working with a very different beast but John has bought with him a wealth of knowledge from past solo projects, including the mini transat campaign of fellow East coast sailor Nick Bubb.

What I have learned over the past 10 months of training in the mini is that there is a great data bank of experience floating around from the many years the pogo 2 has been around.

This I find is a double edged sword as at times, people can be a little too prescriptive over things like sail design; and sail makers will offer a ‘pogo 2’ package which of course is a result of development and careful design and is the best sail plan in their opinion for the boat; but leaves little room for input from the sailor.

With OneSails, I have been involved in my sail programmer from the start; John has come sailing on my boat, has listened to my experiences and taken note of the way I sail and my thoughts on what is important.

I have gained a lot of knowledge through our discussions of the various sail designs and though at times I am sure John has artfully steered me away from any stupid ideas, ( ‘well Pippa in my limited experience of these things, you ought to think carefully about that.’) I feel I have been an integral part of deciding my sail plan and as such I own these decisions and I am setting off to race across the ocean with a full knowledge of what is in my wardrobe and why.

So here it is………. The sail wardrobe.

Mainsail – 24.5 m2

The mainsail is made from Dimension/Polyant top quality woven polyeter, with their very firm HTP coated finish, and as with my previous main, is carrying a large head.

The principle differences between this and my previous main have been to lift all the battens a little higher in the sail, so providing more support for the fat head; to cut the clew of the sail a little higher to keep the boom out of the water when I am reaching (though I have to admit the extra head room in the cockpit when manoeuvring has made a bit of a difference as well), but also great attention has been paid to the inboard end of the battens to produce a system which will allow me to hoist and drop the sail easily and will not damage the bolt rope after a long time reaching or running.

The solent – 15.2 m2

The solent is made from Dimension/Polyant scrim style laminate containing Pentex (a refined Polyester) yarn that is arranged within the laminate specifically for building sails with a cross-cut panel layout.

Some of you may remember from a previous blog that this headsail decision has caused me a bit of grief over the last few months.

The current fashion within the fleet is to go for an ‘inter’. This is a sail, between the size of an overlapping genoa and an inboard sheeting solent, which has a foot length long enough to require a sheet lead outside of the shrouds yet the leech is profiled with enough concavity to bring the leech of the sail ahead of the lower spreader.

I have sailed with both the solent and the inter, but found my windward performance in upwards of 15 knots of breeze to be poor and the balance between the main and the headsail in these conditions difficult to get right.

I am much more comfortable with a solent, the boat feels right and I have a natural instinct of how to depower it in wind and waves. This could be because I have sailed many more miles with a solent than an inter, or it could be that the inboard sheeting lead for the solent allows the boat better balance in these conditions.

A futher advantage of the solent configuration is that if the sail designer correctly positions the clew it is possible to use an ‘in hauler’ to reduce the sheeting angle and gain better pointing in winds around 8-12 knots True. And not surprisingly this is the case with my sail.

However, what ever the reason, I have decided that it is more important to be comfortable with the sail that I have than to go with a sail that someone else suggests is the best sail for the race.

So I have made the seemingly gutsy call to go with a smaller headsail but one that I am very happy sailing with.

In reality we have measured both my new headsail and my old inter and the difference between the two is around a metre squared, but I feel I have gained signficant performance to windward particularly in breeze and waves, such as I could meet on my exit from the bay of Biscay.

But most significantly I have gained piece of mind and my solent is a sail with which I am instantly at one, I understand it and I can feel the boat well when I am using it.

Code Zero – 23m2 – fractional

This is again a laminate sail, made again from a laminate containing polyester yarns.
Unlike some of the other boats I have chosen to fly this from mid bowsprit, it is slightly smaller and a little flatter as a sail, meaning that I can make great vmg to windward in the lighter airs, and as the breeze starts building I can bring it out to the end of the bow sprit to use in big airs as my downwind bullet proof chicken chute. This is probably my most versatile sail.

A5 – 40 m2 -fractional – 0.9oz???
This is my small reaching kite, and is for designed for reaching in medium airs and for going downhill in the bigger breeze, one step before I start to use the code zero. I can see that when the conditions are a little difficult or marginal and perhaps I want to get some hassle free sleep, this would be my spinnaker of choice.

Combi – 54/65 m2 – fractional and mast head

This is the sail that has caused the fuss!

Designed to be a replacement for my big spinnaker should I lose it; but also to be the medium spinnaker for those in between times, when I have just too much for the big kite, or perhaps I am too tired to concentrate on flying it.

The spinnaker was originally designed with a removable reef which is attached to the bottom of the sail with a zip and and velcro.

There were two tacks and two clews on each part of the sail.

For reasons which I am not going to start ranting about this sail was approved and then disallowed by classe mini………. I’m not going to go there!

So now, with three days to the start it is being modified at the OneSails loft in Levington and it will arrive back with my friends on a plane tomorrow, with a reef that rolls and zips into the bottom of the sail. A slightly more conventional solution.

Finally A2 – 75m2 – masthead – 0.6oz

Theoretically this is the sail that gets me the most miles, it is this sail that we all dream of screaming through the trades with, the biggest sail area = the most miles.

This sail had a very specific design spec; I wanted the biggest sail area that was sensible and a sail that was very easy to manage alone; and that is exactly what I have.

It has a shape that will encourage me to soak down, and keep looking at my best vmg to waypoint (as I have discovered it is really fun reaching off all over the place with your kites, but sometimes it is quicker to square the pole back and soak a little bit down the waves). However, when I do want to heat it up and increase the apparent wind a little the shape is very forgiving and I have found out on my trial sails off La Rochelle that I can comfortably sit helming the boat with the sheet on the winch next to me and when I start to lose control with the rudders, it is easy to dump a little sheet, resulting in a curl, to the leading edge of the spinnaker, but not a full collapse so you can sail on the edge, but without losing control.

John explained , ‘giving a single hander an asymmetric designed for a fully crewed boat, usually results in them overtrimming it to keep it full, as it is unreasonable to expect them to keep it trimmed as constantly as a full crew.

Therefore the OneSails designed single handed spinnakers are a more forgiving less critical and more stable sail shape.

In practice this means a shape that is a little deeper in terms of overall camber than it’s fully crewed equivalent and that the cross sectional profile of the sail is a little more rounded’

And for those people out there who identify cars by colours (just like me) all my spinnakers are white, with chevrons down the leading edge.

There are a couple of reasons for this decision – one, it is simple to make them and repair them, but also should someone wish to paint their logo on the sail it is a clean sheet just waiting.
Two, – at night time it will be easier to see these sails and so trim them.

Three – if all my sails are plain white then from a distance it will be close to impossible for a competitor to ascertain which sail I am using. (This was something I had not considered but my experienced sailmaker had and of course it makes perfect sense.)

So all in all I am very happy with my wardrobe, I feel a girl could not be better dressed for the Atlantic- I really do have an outfit that fits, for every occasion.

A walk down the dock

A walk down the dock

PC Course (Race HQ to us English speakers) is buzzing quietly, people making the most of the coffee machine, looking at lists on the wall; details of rules, who has passed which check, the order in which we must hoist our flags.

I leave the building and head for the gangway making for my little red boat which is parked on the end at the right.

The dock is swarming with people and it is a long journey to make which could take some time; there’s a lot of people and a lot of boats to get passed and the French stop to kiss at every opportunity, this is not going to be a speedy manoeuvre.

First on the corner is Marie ; she is one of the group that I have trained with at CEM. Always ready with a smile, Marie seems stress free, her Tip Top is coming together quickly thanks to the help of the dedicated Hubert and life seems good.

Passing Marie the music starts, the first speaker is blasting reggae and as I move up the pontoon the genre’s will change until I finally reach Jean Claude, a 60 yr old doctor who is opposite me on the pontoon and is normally playing opera.

Skirting around someone drilling holes in a new pole I receive a loud Chau from Andrea and his Father Roberto. Andreas Ginto is immaculate, he also trained at CEM, and has not spent a single second of this year thinking about or doing anything but his mini campaign.

People are now crowding the pontoon, splicing ropes, lying out sails, tools are precariously left close to the water, passing between boats and shared between competitors. I weave in and out, kissing hello as I go.

Next a big hug from my favourite two competitors; Ysbrand and Christa. This is a husband and wife dutch couple who are racing in identical D2’s. Despite the stress of some last minute hull reinforcement to Christa’s boat, they are always smiling and with good reason; it has been a long journey for these two to get here and they are happy.

Just in front of them is Remi Fermin , trained at CEM and one of only three designers who are racing their own boats. Remi has no formal training as a designer; but his boat is beautiful and immaculate.

I am half way down now and ducking as people rush past with mainsails over their shoulders on the way to get them measured.

Radoslaw the Polish entry calls me over to ask about Pilot books; he wants to buy some English ones as he does not speak French and unlike some who are just buying the books to meet the rules, he actually would like to be able to navigate into an unknown port should he lose his rig or have some other problem.

American Proto sailor Emma Creighton, sits on the side of the dock cross legged on a beanbag and whipping rope ends.

Dan Dytch the other British entry, in his prototype Soitec, is in his cockpit, surrounded by safety kit facing a man with a clip board. There is no hello from him this time, he like the rest of us is making his best effort to get one more box ticked off and get himself closer to that permit to race.

We have all had our safety kit ready for days, but the judges attention to detail on every small item puts stress on everyone and inevitably there is something we have missed.

I am on the final stretch now the music is French Rock, and the place is a mess; the serious prototypes are covered in Preparateurs, tweaking and polishing like proud owners of race cars.

The less well funded projects are heaving with girl friends, wives and mates all busy with string and tools; you would hardly think this was to be a single handed race.

I am nearly home now; my phone goes, it is the teacher of a local school in La Rochelle who wants to arrange a visit for the students to my boat. They will come and meet me and talk with me, then track me as I make my progress across the ocean. We arrange it for Thursday at 10.30.

Just a step away, Susi is parked next to me in a Pogo 2 and Giaccomo with a Ginto, the youngest competitor this year at just 21 yrs old. We are all from CEM and have shared this whole campaign together.

Suzi is frowning and talking to our coach Guillaume, she has problems with her sails, and the stress is showing on her everyday; after putting so much into the campaign it is so sad to see her badly let down.

Giaccomo is busy fixing wood into the back of his boat to meet the new flotation rules, in a world of his own.

My little boat is patiently waiting for me, waiting for some of that attention to be focussed in it’s direction.

The big job today is to change my rudders; during refit we discovered cracks in them so I have bought two new ones and I will take one as a spare.

I role up my sleeves ready to start the job and realise I have forgotten to fetch my second tool bag from the van.

I stand up, turn around, take a deep breath and try to look for a clear path back down the dock……….. it’s going to be a long day.

Measurement

sail measurementsealing my liferaftminis everywherepreparations

Yesterday was a land mark day in the run up to the start. I had my measurement.

This process will be going on for the next four days to every competitor in the transat. I booked mine as early as possible, so if I had any problems I would have time to correct them and when it was done I would be able to prepare in other ways with a clear head about the boat.

First was my safety control; Pierre arrived and checked that all the safety items on the boat where of the right type and the right quantity, going through the boat with a fine tooth come, noting serial numbers and callsigns and wriggling down the tunnel under my cockpit to check the liferaft and then seal it in position so I cannot use it to ballast the boat.

The liferaft was not the only thing to be sealed, my emergency drinking water was sealed and also my empty Jerry cans for use for drinking water on the second leg; my batteries were sealed in position and my survival container was sealed closed).

At the end of the first leg the boat will be inspected and any broken seals will incur a chat with the judges and a time penalty.

I was missing a couple of small items on the list, these items have crept on for the transat, a couple of extra flares, a spare radar reflector and a Spanish flag; no great shakes and my credit card flexed it’s muscles so I am ready to call Pierre and come and have him sign the boat off.

Next was the sail measurement. Here I had to take all of my sails up to a tent in the village where they could be inspected to check they have a classe mini stamp, to stamp them ‘transat 2011’ and note their serial numbers and what they are. This way the committee can regulate that we are only using seven sails for the race.

I only had six sails verified as I have had a bit of a wobble with one of my spinnakers; which has a detachable reef and was passed by the measurer over a week ago, but classe mini have since decided is illegal.

This has been a panic for me and for my sail designer John Parker, from One Sails, as it was a surprise the class have not accepted it, and at such short notice.

The sail is being sent back to the loft in Levington, Suffolk; where the reef will be modified and then it will return out to me with my friends who are coming to watch the start on Friday 23rd. I have a special dispensation to check this sail in then.

The rest of my sails are all checked in and my final port of call was to the course Doctor; where my medical kit had a thorough going over.

No Flies on me there are my Dad who is a doctor helped me put this kit together the last weekend I was back in the UK. We had a slight bit of banter over some of the medicines I was carrying, where Dad had made substitutions I was prepared to fight my corner out of family pride.

One item I did not have in the kit and which you cannot buy at a Pharmacy in the UK was a coagulating powder. I took the opportunity to question the Doctor about this product as when my Dad had gone to buy it from the Pharmcy in the UK both he and the pharmacy agreed that it was something they learned about at college but was never really used other than on the battle field, when someone was bleeding so badly there was nothing that could be done; you could apply this powder to clot the blood but you would need a helicopter to arrive in the next couple of minutes to take the patient to somewhere they could be treated.

The course Doctor gave a wry smile, and looked at me over the top of his glasses and said; yes maybe he agreed. I could however buy it at a French pharmacy; and he gave me a prescription.

I am thinking maybe it could be good for repairing a hole in the hull??

First Briefing

I think today was the start of a tense countdown to the start.

It was the deadline for boats to arrive, and after the bad weather of last weekend, a lot of very tired sailors arrived during the night on the hike down from Douarnonez, among them my good friends, the Dutch husband and wife competitors, Ysbrand and Christa; who like the other sailors here, where tired but smiling and so pleased that this journey we have all made has ended here successfully.

The dock was alive all day, people and tools everywhere and I was shocked at how many great people I have got to meet in the last year of racing this little boat and how difficult it is to walk from one end of the port to the other, without pausing to talk with some of them.

Of course the question we are all asking is ‘are you ready?’ and there are varying degrees of panic in the response.

But perhaps more interesting to me is the mental preparation and the reactions people are having to being here.

I have felt quite cool about it until this afternoon when we went to our first briefing, and then suddenly I realised I am participating in a huge international yacht race!

Our schedule was laid out for us; over the next week we will be measured, have our safety material checked, our first aid kit checked, we will have to prove we can launch the life raft in 15 seconds, prove we know how to operate our long range radios, our short range radio’s will be tested; and at the end of it all we will be given a document which we must plasticise which will be our permission to rush head long as fast and as crazy as possible to Brazil.

The briefing was tinged with sadness as our first topic of discussion was the death of fellow competitor Jean-Marc Allaire who passed away on last Monday on his way to join us at the start of the race.

I never met Jean-Marc but he was a long time member of class mini and well respected and well liked, many people are missing him here.

We will be stopping for a minutes silence before the start next Sunday to remember him.

Rest in Peace Jean-Marc.

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.

Problems, problems

I’ve just picked up my last sail from One Sails; an A5 – it’s perfectly flaked and folded in it’s bag in the hold underneath me and I am flying back to La Rochelle, dying to try it out.

This weekend I spent racing a Sunsail F40, for Cazenove Capital Management, in the Jersey regatta; it has been a fantastic friendly event, with amazing weather, dolphins in the bay and some great racing.

The sail back overnight on Sunday was windy and we made it from Jersey to Port Solent in 14 hours.

Now I am happy to be escaping a wet and windy Britain and on my way back to my reality.

The next few days will be spent with the other sailors from CEM (Centre d’Entrainement Mediterranee) – there is only one sailor from our winter coaching group who will not be competing in the transat – with our coach Guillaume Rottee getting us up to pre race speed.

The programme is to include, exercise, sailing with the boats fully loaded for racing ( including all water, safety kit and food), practice on listening to and interpreting the French weather forecast, check lists for the race, mental preparation.

We are lucky to be part of such a group and to be able to benefit from the support from each other and from a coach. At this stage, one little problem or insecurity could easily escalate and dealing with things sensibly and methodically is essential.

My problem of the week is all about shipping.

In order to get my boat back from Brazil, I need to send out a cradle to ship it back in.

I have a cradle, it was cleverly built as part of my road trailer, a centre piece that is removable and will stand alone as a cradle.

Unfortunately I have discovered that this cradle is too large to fit in the container and ship out to Brazil, therefore I need to magic a collapsible mini cradle out of thin air to La Rochelle by 22nd September.

I have found a possible cradle, at the Artemis Offshore Academy in Cowes, but currently the shipping costs are coming out more than the value of the cradle……….. another solution is required.

Like I said……… keep calm, breathe deeply and don’t let a little problem grow.

It Works

Just back from a 24hr shake down sail; tired, sunburned and totally satisfied.

All those brains, and hands and hours that have worked so hard to make all those different components of this little boat come together, did a good job.

The boat felt great, the sails looked great, the charging system now a fuel cell and a solar panel worked spot on, all the electronics are calibrated and working perfectly; the bottom of the boat is slippery, there is no play in the rudders, all my running rigging is running smoothly through blocks and jammers; my noisy alarm wakes me up. All is right with the world.

It was so gratifying to sail off into the night on a boat that is so together.

Originally I had planned to go out with the two protos, but instead of chasing them around I sailed my own course; gently pushing my boat and myself and becoming reacquainted with the little things.

Now the majority of the boat work is done I know it is time to turn to myself and start preparing for the 30 odd days of solitude that lie ahead.

I guess you forget what it is really like to be alone; how often does it actually happen in our everyday lives; being out of touch, all alone with no interruptions.

As I steered over the waves, remembering the comfortable places to put my feet and arms, how the boat slams when you get it wrong, the feel of the tiller in my hand; thoughts crowded into my head vying for airtime now the cacophony of day to day life is left ashore. That’s the problem when you are really alone, the rest of the world will not let your mind be.

And yes I acknowledged all these small worries, and questions and outstanding niggles, but only long enough to banish them from my head.

My preparation is like a sort of meditation, I need to clear my head of all other matters; my job is to sail, to think about my boat, to think about the way ahead, the weather and the race.

This is my privilege, and it is time I got myself ready.

And so I sailed happily through the night and in the morning watched another beautiful sunrise. I know it’s only light, and I’ve seen so many before but they really are significant.