Survived Level 4 (just about)...now I'm a sailor-ess, yikes!
Time for an update! My level 4 training on CV23 (previously Team Mark, but now WTC Logistics) was in early June. Weather wise it didn't feel like June! By the time we moored back in Gosport at 1am-ish on the last night we just missed a gale force storm.
The week didn't start well...obviously I left my packing to the last minute and couldn't locate my sailing boots (they turned up eventually in the back of hubby's car, no idea why). Not a great way to introduce myself to my Clipper teammates and Skip! I was a bit late for the briefing because I headed to the chandlery to get an emergency pair, but then got distracted by all the choices! There was nothing in my size in the Musto Lighthouse store at Gunwharfs Quays...I did check it out in the last 30 mins before it closed on Sat night, after pulling into Portsmouth harbour train station around 7.15pm. Training started Sun morning so there was time to catch up with Clipper friends at the Still & West pub previously frequented by Lord Nelson, apparently...it's amazing the random assortment of people that come together to do this race...at the pub that night were an accountant, a US police officer, an ex Californian fireman, and an ex army officer. Food was delicious...highly recommend it if you're in Portsmouth.
We used the first day to familiarise ourselves with 'our' boat (CV23 would take us around the world hopefully), and redo some drills. We didn't return to port again until the final night. The week was the best taster thus far for the race itself. It was really tough, and left me wondering how I am going to survive a whole leg! We went onto watches after the first night, and then practised racing...first to the Normandy beaches...a huge highlight was sailing past the gunships and the ship carrying the D-day veterans on D-day memorial day. Donald Trump was with the Queen in Portsmouth. We were out on the water but did have military helicopters come and check us out, all very exhilarating!
Racing to the beaches of Normandy after a Le Mans start...
We came last on the race to France, but third on the round the island race of the Isle of Wight. The team I was with was really motivated. At some stages I did feel really overwhelmed. Mostly because the environment is still quite foreign to me, but also I made a mistake during the second race where I dropped the staysail instead of loosening the sheet during a tack! It did give us an extra 2 knots briefly, but I did feel really bad for the team. We still made third in the end! Feeling sorry for myself I headed down below; was mother that day...but that just made things worse as the weather was pretty choppy and started feeling sea sickness creeping up. The watch system was 4 hours on and 4 hours off during the race; it was pretty brutal. I need my sleep for sanity, but I have to say that I was very close to breaking point on the last night...hats off to my watch who put up with my grumpiness. I guess it's good practice for the race because we will all be pushed to our limits and have bad days. I apologised afterwards, and they're a good bunch so hopefully they have forgiven me by now (I hope!).
In the last few weeks a lot has happened. We've have announcements confirming our team sponsor; WTC Logistics, and our boat has been branded. They are a global shipping company. Also the most amazing news is that my Leg (8) will be leaving New York City, and going via both Bermuda, and Londonderry before arriving home on the 8th August to St Katharine's Docks in London! Ever since we started training I've joked that I was going to hijack the boat and sail us to the Caribbean - unnecessary! We are sailing to the Caribbean! We'll have a few days in port so looking forward to partying in Bermuda. Now that I have a better idea of the racing conditions (ie. it's pretty brutal) any fun off shore with team mates will hopefully more than make up for it!
I've bought some more kit from Musto. The merino abase layers ARE actually pretty amazing. I trialled changing every 3 days only (without too much detail, that included all layers). The smell wasn't too bad when we got back to port, but I did make sure I showered even though it was 2 am. I've also bought the fleece balaclava because the hoods on the foulies did impact my hearing (I think)!
Upcoming highlights in the next few weeks. I'm doing a static 12 hour charity cycle at work, with a team of my work colleagues and Clipper crew, and a bake sale. There will be a team party in St Katherine's Docks, before the race start on the 1st Sept. I've volunteered to be fund raising coordinator for our team for Unicef...fingers crossed for this...
Photo credits:Dan Jones, WTC Logistics Clipper crew