Continuation Sail - Arrival

Cambridge, 30th November 2001
Despite the usual rush around at the last minute doing some teaching, try to set some experiments off to run over the week and buying last minute additions to kit, I made good time down to Southampton. I arrived to find some of the crew there already, together with Cal, the skipper, and Tim, the mate. Cal was immersed in a world of his own trying to stick the white board to the wall with some pretty ineffective double side sticky tape. He finally managed to attach it, covering up the old BT logo on the wall, much to the relief of his audience. The early birds amongst the crew got on with making dinner (after I'd bagged the same bunk I was used to from sailing over the summer) whilst the latecomers arrived. We were supposed to have 8 crew, although it turned out that only 7 came along. Myself, Zoe, the two Richards (named Richard One and Richard Two), Alex (or Alex 'back street' Alley), Jim (sporadically called 'Irish') and Tony, who is lucky enough to bear more than a passing resemblance to Anthony Hopkins... cue plenty of jokes about ordering another Chianti

That evening we had the usual chat about why people wanted to do the race, etc. However, it was slightly hijacked by Cal and Tim telling us about someone they had on the previous week who had declared when asked what she did for a living 'I'm a porn star'. When asked why she wanted to do the race she said 'I want to become an international porn star'. This was to become another recurring theme of conversation over the five days. BTW the white board lasted about an hour before falling off again...

Friday was up early as usual for the 6am run. Nice and cold at that time of the morning in November, but it didn't stop the intrepid band of crew and skipper from getting a constitutional. Whether our haste in getting underway was keenness to get fit, or just as we wanted to beat the other crew into the shower after the run, maybe we'll never quite know. I started off running quite carefully, since I haven't really run much since injuring my left knee, although fairly predictably after about 5 minutes I was jumping at the bit to push a bit harder. Nothing like some competitive spirit amongst the crew! We did a staggered start on the way back; I just about managed to overtake everyone by the time I got back to the marina - however Richard Two was nowhere to be seen. Tony and myself were sent back to find him; however, as the quote goes, he 'went back by another route'. And yes, we just about made it into the showers before the other crew! I did end up paying for my exuberance though, since my knee ached ominously the rest of that day and made me hobble around, but it did clear up later on.

All the rest of the morning was taken up with watching Cal shake his 'yo-gurt', and the first of the endless briefings. Being the studious type, I'd read what we were supposed to in the training manual, so most of the time was spent waiting for the rest of the crew to be humiliated by not knowing what EPIRB stands for, or one of the other many acronyms used. Still it all helped to get my mind around the difference in reading about something, and have someone actually explain why it's all important.

The weather was very clear and not a great deal of wind, so it was a bit of a contrast to go to the new Challenge Business offices, overlooking Ocean Village, and to watch the new heavy weather sailing video. It's basically lots of clips from the race featuring endless waves and wind, foredeck crew getting washed down the boat by a few tonnes of water, etc. Pretty chilling stuff, and far removed from the calm November day.

We finally made it onto the water mid afternoon, pottered around with full main and big genoa, just blowing away a few of the cobwebs, but there wasn't enough wind around to make things interesting. A little bit of a disappointment, given the conditions we'd had in march on my induction; it felt more like a corporate pleasure cruise! Anyhow, we returned and did a few more briefings in the evening after dinner, once again superbly cooked by the crew. Cal's contribution this week to the food was a selection of South African sauces, a different one each night. The crew's response was to add chilli, tobasco sauce and in some cases large amounts of salt to just about anything put in front of us.