Stress levels are starting to rise slightly as we reach the two weeks to go mark and were not helped much by a few boat breakages this weekend at training. On the plus side training was fantastic, the weather provided some nice testing conditions and I learnt loads. I am now feeling a little bit more confident about my manoeuvres and my speed against the other boats.
Training mainly involved practicing all of our manoeuvres, lots of gybing as well as making sure the reefing systems to reduce the sail size when the wind picks up were working well and were safe as well as fast and easy to use. The primary focus of this training was the Azores race, so we talked through spares and weather routing for the Azores.
We also had a great practice on Sunday using the only furling sail we carry on board the Mini. This is my least favourite sail as it always seems to result in some tangled disaster and me crawling along the bow sprit to untangle a furling drum at the end of the pole. Thankfully nothing went to disastrously wrong with that this weekend, I just need to work on some stronger muscles to furl it away quicker.
I gained some nice bruises on Monday as I practiced my first solo rig climb while sailing. Generally I have no problem with heights and quite like climbing, but climbing the mast solo means that both hands are required for climbing, there is no free hand to hold on to the boat, so with every wave I smashed into some part of the rig. On the plus side, the view was great from the top and my pilot (which I have appropriately named herbie) for once did a great job of steering in a straight line. However we were kindly reminded this weekend that the minimum righting moment of a Mini is only with 50kg weight at the top of the mast which is a bit of a scary thought however, I feel this is less of a problem for me than some of the bigger guys but my fingers are still firmly crossed that is my first and last time up with rig while sailing the Mini.
This weekend I will be taking the boat 200 miles down the coast to Les Sables D’Olonne ready for the start of the race. This will be a great opportunity to give everything a final test before the race and spend some time getting used to my new sails. Fingers crossed everything goes ok!