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Fastnet Training Weekend - by Joseph MacDonald on Quokka 8

Well, as a start we can say a big thank you to Peter Robson for lending us Playing Around as it allowed us to go training, instead of moping while all the other Logic boats got to go and have fun!

We arrived in the RAF YC after an uneventful trip down, fresh faced and raring to start, ready to hear Philippe give all six teams a de-brief on the Myth of Malham race. Obviously this didn’t include the last leg as that was a bit of a blur to all us Quokka’s! I’d heard Philippe’s de-brief at on this race at RORC a few days earlier, where he had the crews from a lot more classes to talk to, and it was clear that the class conundrums were challenging given the wind shifts.

The first thing I noticed is how much difference 3 feet makes: it’s been said time and again, but the forepeak on a 40.7 is quite small compared to Quokka and it does make a difference: I wouldn’t say it was better or worse though, just different: in the smaller space it was easier to brace while packing sails etc. But I missed the capacity to spread the spinnakers out a bit more.

During the training we were all switched around: bowmen on the helm, trimmers on the bow (We may have stopped short of putting our sleeping partner on the bow though!) and off we went: upwind, downwind, man overboard (yes Phil, remember that the boat does have a reverse gear!), mark rounding, 15 seconds to the mark (that’d be 5 boat-lengths to you sir!).

Coming up on the wind, time to wind ion a bit of main halyard and crack: it breaks in 3 places, luckily behind the clutch: everything is ok, but we need to attach a mousing line to the end and let it run through.

Back to base then for a shower and a BBQ. And what a feast: many thanks to Katie and Allie, we’re hoping that some gentle bribery might make them forgive the table for playing with their minds (and their confidence in their mathematical abilities)!

The next day proved to be the interesting one, starting with a trip to the top of the mast (a lot of fun actually, you’ll find me back up there soon) to recuperate the other end of our main halyard. We poked our nose out of the Hamble river to be met with wind, rain and waves, but undeterred went up with full main and No3. The plan was to do a couple of upwind legs and a couple of downwind legs, with 2 hoists and 2 drops, but as we were settling into our first beat the jib halyard parting with another loud crack and the sail began a majestic descent to the deck under its own weight. Cue the bow team springing forward to get it under control. We were going to send it back up on the spinnaker halyard when I have to admit to being rather surprised to see the S4 arrive on deck: bare headed hoist then in 25+ knots. More grumbling from me, I have no wish to be on tiptoe trying to unravel a kite from the forestay and need Phil’s expert counselling (“Get on with it you (insert your own expletive here)” ). It was slightly interesting when it went up with a twist pre-folded. Oops! But at least that’s my beer tab sorted for a while!

Gybes come and go, the 40.7 rolls a lot more than a reflex or Quokka, and we’re really working the weight distribution, Kylie’s trimming and describes it as the most terrifyingly exhilarating experience she’s ever had. That was afterwards, during the experience she was hanging on with clenched jaw and gritted determination but smiling after a near perfect gybe in 27 knots of wind.

I’m on the foredeck for the next gybe. Bearing away... Trip... the pole comes down... Made! The pole starts to go up again. The boat is heeling a bit but up on the pointy end it has less effect and I’m focused on calling the end of the pole in case it catches the bottom of the kite. The guy comes away from the pole end... B***** I must have not made it properly. There goes my beer tab. I grab the end of the pole, find the guy and remake before realising that the halyard has been let off and we’re dropping. Hatch open, a lot of noise and kefuffle later and she’s down the hatch, pole down and we’re headed for home, de-briefing and a cup of coffee. All in a day’s training!

Many thanks to Peter Robson for the loan of the boat, and to our skipper and coach!

 

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