Fastnet Training Weekend 1. By Graham D. Crew on Jaguar Logic.
We all duly arrived on the sunny lawns of the Royal Airforce Club for the long-awaited reveal. Some tentatively hiding in the corners, some relaxing in the sun, some assured with their tails held high. We all had something in common but knew very little else about each other. The ones with a big paw print on their backs [crew of Panda Nova Sigma 38] and the group standing around their very own totem pole [Barclays Sailing Club - with a very tall crew member!] stood out as coherent groups amongst a sea of individuals. The shepherds Allie and Sharon got the information torrent started.
The reveal of crews, boats, skippers and mates. Why did I feel so tense. I had signed up for doing the Fastnet race months ago. I had committed the money, the time and some preparation of kit and fitness. Surely everybody was in the same boat (excuse the pun) why did it matter? Maybe it was the idea of being challenged and found wanting outside your comfort zone with people you didn't know that was difficult. Perhaps the theoretical commitment was just becomming real. how would I cope when I got cold, wet, tired and grumpy (it has been known). Maybe it was the prospect of 10 people I didn't know 5 days and 5 nights and one never-still toilet. Whatever it was there was no backing out now.
To the boats. Desperately trying to remember information and names, and failing. Safety first (tick) and at last we were out on the water. Bob the fender went for a few swims (tick), up went the orange sails which thankfully coincided with a 25+knot rain squall to make it realistic (tick). Up went the spinnaker, gybed, dropped, packed (tick). We tacked, gybed, hoisted, gybed, re-packed, peeled (tick, tick, tick). Bob went swimming again (he's going to have to be told).
All of a sudden the weekend was over. In between times a very charming and bubbly Dee Caffari told us more details about toilet issues when offshore sailing (Is it really all about the loo?) and the team table at the BBQ suggested post race drinks will not be skimped on.
The best bit. After one weekend we had a boat, a team, a plan, some work to do and we had enjoyed ourselves. And I didn't mention the snoring once.