Monday, September 18, 2006
Succcess at Little Britain Challenge Cup
Sailing Logic's boats enjoyed great success at this year's Little Britain Challenge Cup, Europes largest industry regatta. Based in the Solent over three days the regatta attracts most of the leading Construction industry companies.
On day two of the regatta Puma Logic, Chartered by Warrings, notched up two impressive 2nd places. This put them in the running to win not only their class but also the Little Britain Challenge Cup. On day three an outstanding performance by Cougar (WSP) and a below par performance by Puma (Warrings) pushed Puma down the rankings to claim the 4th place slot whilst WSP finished with a superb 2nd place in Class 2 and winning the Reflex Class trophy.
Further success came from Sea Wolf (Adams Kara Taylor) in Class 6. Sea Wolf, a brand new Pronavia 38 on her first competitive outing tooka thrid place and two 4th places to give tehm a great 4th place in class.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Richard Donkin Reflects on the Round Britain & Ireland Race
Our race ended quietly in the early ours of the Monday morning after experiencing high winds in the channel that forced a hoisting of our storm trisail in place of the mainsail.
The crew and skipper had given so much to the point of exhaustion that everyone was drained by the time we reached the pontoon in Cowes. The champagne was uncorked, naturally, but there was little feeling of triumph, particularly since a race official had informed us of a protest (later withdrawn) that could have cost us our position.
It had been noted that the class leader, Magnum and ourselves (with quite a few other boats) had mistakenly sailed inside the Eddytsone Rock when it should have been left to starboard. There had been little or no advantage in doing so but some argued that it was a technical infringement of the rules. Had the protest been maintained it may have come down to a ruling on whether the Eddystone is an outlying rock or not since its surface would be covered at high tide. You could say, at the time, that we felt we had been caught between a rock and a hard place.
Make no mistake, the seas around Britain and Ireland proved the hardest place for the competing crews, particularly those on the smaller yachts where the pounding of the waves is amplified when beating perpetually into the wind. Nothing would tempt me to repeat the experience.
For me, at least, any future sailing is for sunny days and light winds ideally with a pub rather than some race finish line as a goal. I’m proud of what we achieved. As Philippe said afterwards, this crew, which was far less experienced than many of those it bettered, should not have been capable of a podium position. Much of the credit for that should go to Philippe and his will to succeed. But those who sailed with him signed up to the same challenge and sustained their commitment to the end.
Could we have won? It would have been interesting to see how we would have faired had Magnum not stolen a march on us around Skellig Michael which enabled them to build a big lead. In practice I believe they would still have beaten us. Magnum are a class act with a fine skipper and a crew drilled from years of sailing and competing. They were worthy winners. But I think we could have run them a close second and with that kind of pressure, who knows what could have happened?
It is a testament to the character of the Puma Logic crew that down to the last day we had Magnum on our minds. Not until they crossed the line were we willing to settle for second place. In short I believe Philippe instilled in to all of us a winning mentality and a belief in ourselves that outstripped any realistic appraisal that might have been made by an outsider. He did it before with his Commodore’s Cup team that outperformed the expectations of the RYA selectors.
The choice of the selectors to overlook the team in favour of a less successful crew looked misguided at the time. Puma Logic’s continued success only emphasises that impression. In fact it would be true to say that proving the RYA selectors wrong was no small factor in our determination to excel. A much bigger factor, however, was working for each other.
Not everyone — I include myself here — performed selflessly all of the time. But some did to an exceptional degree. Brian Phillips, the granddaddy of our crew, never missed a watch; Matt Humphreys, a talented sail racer in his own right, was always there for helming, sail changes, cooking, cleaning or any other of the thankless tasks on a boat.
But if anyone, of all the crew deserves a halo, it is Mark Taylor, one of the watch leaders. There were many watches when Mark worked on long after the rest of us had scuttled to our bunks. I never heard him complain, not once, nor did he say a bad word about anyone. Mark’s contribution was an example of team-working at its best.
In a bout of soul-searching, once the dust had settled, Philippe said he felt his leadership had been wanting at times. If so, there is much he could say in mitigation. The loss of Sara, our experienced mate, had been a big blow, most keenly felt by the skipper.
He confessed that when our steering went he had been ready to “throw in the towel”. I don’t believe that for a minute. If a towel was all we had left he would have hoisted it as a spinnaker. None of us, least of all Philippe, would have given in lightly.
I’ve known him many years and recognise his imperfections as much as he recognises mine. If a friend is someone you would trust to have with you in a crisis I can’t think of anyone better.
It’s hard to appreciate such things at the time, but sharing adversity is a powerful experience for any group of individuals. There’s no hiding place on a small boat, neither physically, nor emotionally. Sometimes the only outlet is the work itself. Better to scream at the sea than each other. You can do that on the foredeck. It brought out levels of aggression, levels of satisfaction too, that I would not have known existed.
“It must have been brilliant,” said a work friend afterwards. No it wasn’t. Words such as “enjoyment” cannot convey such experiences that make a far deeper impression on the character.
So why do we do these things? Motivation is a complex issue. I think for some of us there may have been a point to prove, if only to ourselves. That man Apsley Cherry-Garrard described exploration — and endurance events like one are close bedfellows — as “the physical expression of an intellectual passion”.
A lot of it, I believe, comes down to extending self-knowledge. Cherry-Garrard said this: “Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, “What’s the use? For we are a nation of shopkeepersâ€¦â€¦and so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with whom you sledge will not be shopkeepers: that is worth a good deal.” The same goes for those with whom you sail. It’s worth a good deal.