Fastnet training weekend report
Well what great weather we were blessed with this weekend. Sunny and light winds allowed us to get some useful practice, before our next RORC race to St-Malo this weekend.
We had two main goals this weekend, we wanted to practice sail changes and reefing and practice some MOB drills and recovering someone should they fall overboard. We had arranged a helicopter winching exercise for Sunday so everyone was looking forward to that.
On Saturday we started to get the boat ready, we weren’t in a great rush as the forecast was for light variable winds, but we hoped that we would get a bit of a sea breeze late morning early afternoon.
We motored out of the river Hamble and as soon as we could we got sailing. We were making slow progress, but we thought the light wind practice would come in useful next weekend if the forecast at this early stage is accurate. With the wind shifting all over the place the other boats in the Solent may have thought us strange as we tacked and peeled from our No1 head sail to No2, and finally to our No3 before starting to reef the main sail.
During our last race (the DeGuigand Bowl race) we noticed that the reefing lines started to slip along the boom making it difficult to set the reef properly. We marked up our halyard to make reefing a little easier and more importantly quicker, but also made it impossible for the reefing lines to slide along the boom.
We had a leisurely lunch while reefed allowing the tide to take us towards the Needles. During lunch the wind decided to shift 120 degrees, and this gave us the chance to hoist the spinnaker, we shook out the reefs in the main sail and start to sail back towards Hamble. After a successful peel from our light weight spinnaker to our heavy weight spinnaker and some spinnaker packing practice, we re-hoisted our light weight spinnaker and started gybing our way back towards Hamble.
We used the opportunity to rotate the crew around in different positions working foredeck, mast, trim and guy as we gybed back in the glorious sunshine. We rounded the day off having dinner in the Victory and a couple of well-deserved pints and bumped into Nigel Goodhew, who recently sailed his Sigma 38 across the Atlantic, and enjoyed hearing about his adventures.
Sunday morning started with bacon, sausage and egg roll (thank you Nick) and plenty of tea. We got the boat ready and set off for our rendezvous with the helicopter just off the Isle of Wight. I took the opportunity to get a few fun snaps of Sigmund the MOB dummy.
Sigmund learning the ropes
We needed to confirm attendance with the coastguard, but due to the lack of wind they were unable to attend the exercise.
We were a bit disappointed, but we had some more tea (we drink a lot of tea by the way) and then discussed MOB drills. We wanted to practice a MOB under spinnaker, as Mefisto had one in the Morgan Cup race and was helped by With Alacrity to recover their MOB. The big problem is how do you control the spinnaker? We spent some time formulating a plan, weighing up the pros and cons, but the outcome was drop the spinnaker ASAP, check that no line were left in the water then start the engine. We ran through the drill and it was successful, let’s hope we never have to try it for real.
We found it an interesting exercise getting Sigmund out of the water, we discovered the D ring on a lifejacket becomes obscured by the bladder making it trick to get a line attached. With Sigmund weighing 75kg’s when wet, it was as realistic as you can get without someone jumping in.
We spent the rest of the morning practicing a few more MOB pickups, then had a quick lunch and started to head back to Hamble hoping to leave before the hundreds of other sailors clogged up the roads.
We also noticed an interesting way of keeping kids occupied while sailing. Is this the equilivent of the naughty step? I’ll let you decide.
We’re all looking forward to our next race, let’s hope the weather blesses us with fair winds and sunshine!