It has been a strange old week; things have not been following the grand plan and I have found myself in different places doing different things with different people, going with the flow has been the only direction and it seems to be a good one.
Training finished last week and I pulled my boat out of the water to give it a bit of loving pre the first event of the year the Demi Cle.
In the meantime the rest of France was gearing up for their big Easter event, Spi Ouest which is equivalent to Cowes week in Calibre and this year was no different. Fleets including 118 J80’s lined up in conditions varying from 25 knots to flat calm to battle it out in long days on the water.
I headed over to La Trinite to check out the action and before I knew it a last minute tummy bug from a visiting British crew put me on the rail of Quokka www.quokkasail.co.uk the British Grand Soleil 43 and previous winners of the IRC nationals as a replacement mid bow.
It was strange to sail on a fully crewed boat again, and especially at the front as normally you’ll find me hanging round the backstay or at the very least in the cockpit, but I enjoyed the different view, sailing with a good team and the total lack of decision making required from me.
The competition was tough and the podium position the crew coveted slipped from our grasp after a difficult third day but we finished the regatta with a 4th place overall in IRC 1 and I spent some good time on the water, listening, watching and enjoying sailing.
On return to Lorient plans went slightly off course as my transfer of the race entry fee for the Demi Cle, having been lost in the international piggy bank of some financial institution or the other eventually turned up late, so as the event is over subscribed I had been bumped to the waiting list.
I have to admit I had a bit of a strop over this; just so disappointed after all this preparation and stopped by a fault that was not of my own, I stood down my co-skipper and cancelled the launch of my boat and had a bit of a sulk on.
This was put to a stop by the appearance of Jake Jefferies, a British mini sailor; in Lorient with his new proto type Mad Dog.
Jake is campaigning for a 2013 mini transat entry in a boat he has designed and built himself. First step on this path is the crucial stage of measurement before he can gain official mileage in mini races.
Over the last two days I have been helping Jake with this task, interpreting between him and the class mini measurer Joel Gate, and watching as the never ending tests where performed.
Looking from the outside this has been an interesting experience and I will write about the various measurements and how they were made in another blog but most excruciating has been watching Jake go through it all.
On the outside Jake has had a ‘what will be, will be’ attitude. He designed and built the boat to conform as he believed with the rules but I know he had some niggling worries and after all this hard labour and time.
It must have been a very heart in mouth experience, just the chance that it might not pass and to have to accept criticism of something you have put your heart and soul into must be very very hard.
Most nerve racking for me was the test of stability where the keel is canted to the ‘wrong’ side of the boat, the mast is cranked over onto the dock and 48 kilos of lead is hung from the mast head. Then when the mast head is placed on the water the boat must deliver a positive stability.
It’s worrying to watch as a spectator; of course the implications of the mast not coming up are not good; on the first day of measurement in 25 knot gusts we decided to put the test on hold and managed to complete it this morning in flat water and sunshine, finishing with an upright boat and permission to race providing Jake makes a modification to his liferaft launching system.
While all this was going on frantic phone calls where being exchanged between Jake and his co-skipper about travel arrangements and timings all of which ended up with me agreeing to step in as his co-skipper for this race which I was very happy to do.
In the meantime the race organisers rang me and informed me there would be a place for my boat in the race, however without a co-skipper, proper preparation and a boat in the water I have decided to stick with the plan and sail with Jake.
It’s going to be great to be a British team, to sail on a proto and to help Jake get through his first event, which can be quite a minefield of paperwork and certificates and complying with the tiniest of rules.
I’ll take the go pro and lots of pictures and let you know how it is on a proto when I get to the other end.