Race Week – Tuesday

Before now the countdown was just numbers at the top of my blog. Trying to focus me on the fact the race was not far away a reminder, a nudge in the ribs.


There is no need for numbers now; I know.


1 2 3


I arrived in the race village on Saturday morning and the world has been spinning fast since then. Briefings, the prologue race, paperwork and the security controls have all been whistling by with incredible pace.


It is now Tuesday morning and I am in goodish shape, and I finally feel like I am going to race across an ocean on Sunday.


I have passed my sails control, medical control, class mini paperwork, and most of my safety inspection.


Today I just have to finish of the final items on the safety inspection list and I will be given permission to race. This however includes sorting out an errant VHF cable which I replaced a couple of weeks ago when the mast was down but obviously did not do a good job on.


I am using the screw on non-solder co-ax connectors which are not making a good enough connection for the radio to transmit over distance. If anyone reading this blog has any VHF know how and can suggest a better way of connecting that will not involve taking the mast down and re-running a different cable the PLEASE email me on pip@pipoceanracing.com


Today’s big shout goes to the amazing Pantaenius insurance company in the UK who are looking after my race insurance and covering the delivery back to France.


It can be pretty hard to find insurers for more adventurous sailing however, Pantaenius stepped up to the mark for me this year and have made everything so easy. I know them already to be a company that support sailors not just boats that stay in marinas as I have worked with them on the Sail Faster Sail Safer series for Yachting World.


So Thank You Pantaenius!

10 days to go – a dedication to SunSail


boat in the race village crane

I got a text message from my oldest friend this morning, it just said 10 days to go!


I KNOW!!!  (only joking Em, it was lovely to hear from you)


The boat is in the race village, thanks to the efforts of Paul and Nikki; I am still working and organising the boring bits in the evenings and mornings…. Endless paperwork, paying bills, tying up loose ends, looking at the weather.


It is all coming together and the tension is starting to build.


As the kit is arriving thick and fast and my boat is being spruced and polished and upgraded it is time to remember one of my sponsors who have supported me through the two years leading up to this second transat.


Like many people in the sailing industry, Sunsail were the company who first gave me a job way back in 1992 when I was fresh faced out of school and clutching my newly acquired Yachtmaster certificate.


For me it was a dream come true; I was earning a living doing the thing I loved most and had the opportunity to travel to the Caribbean and work in those blue waters I had only ever looked at in magazines.


I have worked on and off for Sunsail through the ages; returning home from my latest adventure I knew I could find work back where I had started to help pay the bills while I planned the next challenge.  The skippers there are old friends and walking back down the dock now still evokes memories of me as a giddy 18 year old on my first trip out.


Sunsail were the first company to sign up as a sponsor for the 2013 transat and have been supportive of me through the less glamorous years of qualification and race preparation; and so they exclusively deserve today’s thank you.


A massive thank you everyone at Sunsail for supporting me and supporting British Offshore racing and for investing back into the sailing industry that is your bread and butter.



11 days to go

There is a bit of a gap since my last blog; and it has been hectic.


However finally yesterday, looking pristine, smooth and sporting my sponsor’s logos, the little Potting Shed left for France ….. at last.


A team of people have swung into action over the last week to really get my boat ready and in the best condition it could possibly be for the transat and when we finally strapped her to the road trailer on Sunday she was sparkling and above all else smooth.


I cannot say thank you enough to James from Yachting Sports who has done an amazing job preparing the bottom of my boat and fixing my new rudder to the boat.


This has been topped off by the guys from Coast graphics who swept in to deal with my raggedy topsides; after 3 years of hard sailing and bashing against docks and other minis ‘The Potting Shed’ was starting to look race weary. However now she looks like a race boat again – no scars.


Meanwhile the sewing machines have been burning at the OneSails loft in Levington; and my sails, the race engine, are now loaded onboard and good to go. A massive thank you to John Parker from OneSails who has now made sails for every short handed campaign I have done and has always made sails for me and my style of sailing, which is so important when you are single handed.


In the background Raymarine have been servicing my autopilot rams and wind instruments and McMurdo serviced my EPIRB.


Meanwhile my partner Ash has been working away in the background, painting numbers on the deck, cling wrapping masts, picking up boats, packing vans and generally keeping me on the task in hand which is one hell of a job. So thank you Ash I know I am a nightmare!


While the A team above were hard at work on the physical things I have been trying to work out the rest; most importantly packing for the race and for preparations pre-start.


I started with a room just full of stuff; clothes, tools, repair kits, epoxy, sticky Dacron, waterproofs, charts, books – there seemed to be no end. And then had to work out what I really needed for the transat, pair it down and then pack it into hard waterproof containers.


You would not believe how hard this was. If I was given the chance I would take the kitchen sink. My biggest weakness is tools and spares; I hate the thought of not being able to finish a race because something broke. But on a mini which is so weight critical, I can’t take my vice and full glass fibre repair kit. I have had to be hard on myself but am sure I will have more tools that most.


The great thing about packing now is I have hindsight. I know what broke last time, I know what broke on other peoples boats (rudders, rudders and more rudders) which has given me a good steer to packing for this race.


It was all finally done on Sunday afternoon and packed into my van to go to France.


And it’s gone. Mini veteran and transporter of old Paul Peggs and one of the few people I would trust with the precious cargo, has this morning arrived in France with my mini


But no relaxing for me, I am still in a full scale flap trying to organise the hundreds of emails, the paperwork, the appointments I need to make for scrutineering before the race. I can’t believe there is so much to do. My brain is on fire.


The great news is I only have £1100 left to raise; not long to go and time for a final fundraising push.