Continuation Sail - Wrapping Up

Cambridge, 30th November 2001
The day dawns bright and calm. Yes, another corporate day in November. Despite the lack of breeze, we get sorted early in the morning, and set out. Not that much to report from the day; back to the big genoa out the front, we had the spinnaker out to play again, and we got to practice the man overboard drill. Given the wind conditions, the dan buoy was very clearly visible in dead flat water about 30m off the stern by the time we'd stopped the boat from its relentless charges across the Solent.

One interesting thing about the week as a whole was the difference between it and the induction sail earlier in the year. Since the crew had a much clearer idea of what to do there was more of a team identity - people were chatting more whilst getting on with what they knew how to do. I suppose there were fewer people there which helps, and there was certainly a lot more swearing and banter going on, mainly thanks to Cal! The weather helped in that respect as well, since everyone could relax a bit more.

We turned in mid afternoon and headed back into Ocean Village. We had to prepare the boat since she was being taken to Plymouth that night by the skipper of the other boat training and a few of the crew volunteers. It was suppose to be the next day, but they've moved it earlier due to the weather reports. Zoe had volunteered to go, and now wasn't that keen since she'd miss out on the food and drinks that night with the rest of the crew. Once back at the marina, the boat was tidied up, all kit off, sail locker completely emptied and repacked and everything given the once over. The other boat returned, with tales of an overnight trip to France; they had one more crew than us, and only a couple had been sick so they were able to push a bit harder. I think both crews envied the other a little. We were sleeping on their boat that night, so had to invade their territory to nab a bunk. With the boats sleeping 18 space wasn't a problem, although I have to admit being pleased that Richard One had managed to get one of the bow cabins - I was impressed each night as to the resonance that he managed.

Showered up back in the boat some of us are painfully slow at working out that some of the others are taking a really long time in the shower. We finally wise up, and join them in the pub - back in Los Marinos after a break of a good few months. This quick pre-dinner drink turns into three by the time we leave for food. Both crews are together; we're missing Zoe and they're missing three of theirs and their skipper and mate. We get stuck into the food and drink - pints all around, when Tony announces that it's his birthday in a couple of days time, so buys what must have been a dozen bottles of wine - a nice little drop of Chianti! It's a good chance to swap stories from this week - some of which (possibly involving armpit hair) would do better forgotten.

After food is finished, with most people a little the worse for wear, we head to the Frog and Frigate pub nearby. Alex still remembers its reputation from his student days in Southampton... We arrive and get settled in, and after a while we realise that Richard One (the senior) is leading the way in terms of action; he quickly has a bevy of three girls clinging onto his every word. However we realise that the conversation might be professional when it turns out that they are three of the organisers of another boat racing company, Clipper. This end of the bar degenerates into dancing, with some particularly fine examples extracted from all the member of the crew by these three girls.

Finally 1am came and went, so we left the pub (after a few reminders), made the laughable attempt to get into New Yorks (which was a student night and stopped letting people in at 1am), then resorted to calling in for a cheeky kebab on the way home. Back home at about 2:30am, which didn't stop the generator going on at 7am the next morning as usual! Still, everyone (just about) was up at least in body for a greasy breakfast at 8am, although Alex wasn't eating that much. After that the boat had to be cleaned, sail locker repacked, etc. All that was left was a personal briefing from Cal, another innovation from the last training sail. I suppose most of what he said was fairly self-evident; in terms of fitness and theoretical understanding I've got no problems so far. My main challenge is the sickness at the minute; however I'm still confident that given consistently rough conditions I'll be fine after I'm acclimatised. Another point is making sure that I eat, and trying stugeron again - it seemed to work for me last time anyway. We also had a brief chat about where I might end up in my race crew, where I would fit into the team.

One other big point during the week that Cal stressed was the importance of getting in small boat work to develop awareness of what actually is going on. It's something that I'm going to try and fit in next year (when it's a bit warmer...) on top of everything else. So on balance it was a really good week in actually learning stuff; spinnakers, etc, but not so good in preparing us for race conditions. Still, you can't change the weather... I'll just have to book into another continuation sail at the start of next year and hope for storms. I never quite thought I'd be saying that!