Ok so with just less than 5000 miles still left to race its clear everyone (eventually) chose to close the Moroccan coast rather than stick to the Rhumb line route, in search of stronger winds. Right now it’s beginning to look like Punta del Este may chose the route between the Canary Islands with the rest of the leading pack – Sanya, Qingdao, Dare to Lead, Ha Long Bay Vietnam and Unicef currently shaping to go between the Canary Islands and the African coast. It’s Leg 1, Race 2, Day 3, Hour 4! Time to wind the clock back and catch up with Blogs I never quite got around to writing……..
Firstly the Unicef team-building weekend 🙂 A full weekend, in more ways than one, over the first full weekend in July when ALL Clipper teams, with as many crew members as each could muster, “disappeared” on team building weekends around the country. We chose to descend on Blackwood Forest in Hampshire. We had a very good turn out – over 30 of us – in log cabins throughout the forest coming together for various team building exercises and events, eating together, a great BBQ, a perfect opportunity to get to know each other, and the environment in which to discuss our group aims, our hopes, our strategies and our values. If any of you have ever done similar corporate events then you can imagine exactly what we got up to!
To cut a long story short it was an excellent event, well planned by those of the team who volunteered to organise it way back at Crew Allocation, facilitated extremely well by skipper Ian and AQP Mike and as much fun as I can remember having in a field/forest with …………..…. pieces of pasta and marshmallows (building a free standing structure with other crew doing Leg 6 across the Pacific!), multiple variations on the game of “tag”, some GPS assisted (or in our case not really assisted) orienteering – I think today’s posh word for this is Geotagging or some such! and a rather ingenious race involving a fresh chicken’s egg (and in the Leg 6 team’s case socks and a single training shoe) in which we achieved a podium finish and only lost out on top spot by “rounding a mark” on the wrong side – a ruling which we strongly refuted but as the skipper was the sole judge we eventually chose discretion as the better part of valour and shut up!
Two days later I was back down in Gosport, back onboard a now branded Unicef boat (CV31) for the second time (see also Blog 60: Level 3 Training, Part 2, published 4 May 2019) for my final Level 4 training. This was a first time to sail with both Ian and Mike, with a crew made up entirely of other Unicef crew members: Ian (skipper), Mike (AQP), Angie (circumnavigator), Sarah (Leg 4), Sophie (Legs 1 and 3), Ursi (Legs 1 and 8), Jo (Leg 7) , Lis (Legs 6, 7 and 8), Juscinta (Leg 5), Anthonie (Legs 1, 2 and 3), Shaneil (Leg 6), Beau (Leg 4) , Giacomo (Leg 4) and me! (Legs 2, 3, 6 and 8). So Ian, Mike, Angie, Sophie, Ursi and Anthonie are afloat right now and I will race at some point with Ian, Mike, Angie, Sophie, Ursi, Lis, Anthonie, and Shaneil.
Level 4 started with collecting our Musto kit (See Blog 24: Does/Will My Bum Look Big In This?, published 28 September 2018) and finished with the usual Clipper Race Assessment (the Test!) another deep clean, and a late lunch in the Boathouse. In between we practised towing another Clipper yacht and being towed, transferring stores and personnel via the yacht’s dingy (in this case “Bob” the man-overboard dummy simulating a casualty), hoisted storm sails, anchored, practised racing line-starts, practiced a “Le Mans” start, hoisted/letter-box dropped/packed/and re-hoisted(!) all three codes of Spinnaker and the lighter “wind-seeker” sail (it does what it says on the tin!) and, over the last few days raced the other 10 Clipper yachts – also at sea on Level 4 training – around the Solent and across the English Channel, along the coast of Normandy in sight of beaches I know well from the shore-side perspective, and then back to Portsmouth. We experienced life at an angle (again) and in my case the difficulty of getting into a top bunk at 40odd degrees and the “pain” of being becalmed – quite literally going NOWHERE – in very light airs for a 6 hour period. The racing aspects taught us how to do everything we had safely done during Levels 1, 2 and 3 but much, much faster!
Three one-second video clips!:
and I promise I am actually packing that spinnaker not just hugging it!
Flat calm and going nowhere fast!:
I’ll admit I’m rather envious of Ian, Mike, Angie, Sophie, Anthonie and Ursi off the Moroccan coast right now.
Please take a look. Thank you.