|Cambridge, 4th December 2002|
On the 21st November I went down to Southampton once more, this time to take part in my Development Training sail for the 2004 Global Challenge. At 9 days this sail is longer than previous ones and is designed to test living and working the boat for an extended period of time. I was looking forward to the week ahead, but again slightly apprehensive about how I would handle it. Additions to my sailing kit this time was an early Christmas present of a sleeping bag: it is rated to -15c so should keep me nice and warm!
I met up with another crew volunteer on my boat, getting off the train at Southampton, and we take a taxi down to the boat. We're on Challenge 36, the same boat that I was on for my Continuation Sail last November. We meet the skipper, Jon, and one of the mates, Stu. To say Jon and Dave, my last training skipper, are different is a slight understatement... The first evening is typical - get some food in, a quick chat about motivation for the race and this training sail, head to bed in preparation for the run the next morning. For motivation for the race I say that I'm interesting in making my crew do as well as possible. However with an all-male crew, the conversation is more about how old and unattached people's sisters and daughters are, although the arrival of our other mate, Lucy, temporarily takes the edge off the banter. Very temporarily.
Next morning we wake at 6.30am and dress for a run and a match of touch rugby with the other crew. As we emerge from the boat to a overcast and raining sky, we find the other crew stretching away. We seek refuge under the overhanding cinema roof and try to keep warm. A quick jog to the local park, then a very muddy game of touch rugby commenced. Neither side knew the rules, or at least didn't admit that they did when seeking to pervert them, but I'm pretty sure the score was 5-3 in our favour. Skipper spent most of the match on the floor, and won the award for the least gain from the most possession of the ball. The run back was geared more towards making the showers before the other boat (which we managed) rather than increasing fitness, which was merely a side effect.
After breakfast we practise spinnaker manoeuvres whilst moored with a rope spinnaker - three ropes to mark the edges of the sail, but no sail. Quite a useful exercise, since you need quite a bit of communication between the crew to work together. We rig the boat for sailing, have a quick lunch, then leave Southampton for Cowes. After the team chat from our tame BBC weatherman, we can all correctly identify that it is in fact showering, rather than raining. In between and during periodic soakings we tack up Southampton water into the Solent, before practising a man overboard drill, refining sail trim, and generally blowing the cobwebs out. After docking in Cowes that afternoon we shower, eat, and sneak in a quick pint before bed.