Pressure only exists in the sails – #vendee2020vision training

My goodness have things been a whirlwind of activity since my last update. I feel slightly shocked that it’s been so long since the last one. Still, better late than never!

Before I start, I shall introduce #vendee2020vision to you. It’s an initiative set by Whitecap Ltd (who I work for) with help from Artemis Investments to seek the next British sailor to begin reversing the negative trend of Brits in the Vendée Globe.  It is both a training ground as well as competitive process, sailors get the time with experienced professionals (sailors and corporate) to improve skills all whist being evaluated so numbers get whittled down to ultimately 1 skipper for Vendée 2020! I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity though and intend to make the very best of it!

#vendee2020vision training

I chose this title after my recent #vendee2020vision training session where I completely ruined myself but have learned absolutely loads. Although you can see the aftermath below, a video taken at 0330 when we returned to the dock, here’s my take on what happened.

Although I had been on two earlier sessions I was aware that mine was going to be different and challenging! For starters I’d never done a roadbook (notes that mean if the computers go down you can continue racing at 100%), so that was a learning experience to see what one needed to contain…I certainly have a better idea about how to put one together now! After the briefing we headed out and I could feel the nerves starting to build, this was eventually going to be my downfall…Lesson 1: Chill out and stop putting so much pressure on myself. Now, we don’t get full ownership of the boat till leaving the Needles where by I promptly crashed out but by this time though I was properly uptight and not thinking straight.

Over the next few hours we made it to Swanage to repair a mast car that had broken before heading off around DZB (a buoy marking the Devon firing range) to Le Havre with the kite up. By this point night had descended and after a strong word started to actually calm down slightly… Although I had done the manoeuvres many times before, doing it solo made it clear how much preparation is key to making life easier. Of course there were some nighttime gybes (again, need a video to explain!) and lots of sleep although I was starting to suffer from not eating enough so was trying to compensate. Lesson 2: Eat MORE and of the RIGHT stuff.

Once around the A5 mark it was uphill for the boat and down for me… I wasn’t consuming enough food to keep adequate energy supplies so couldn’t think straight. That was compounded by there being lots of fishing pots meant that by the time we were off the IoW I was flagging. It was also in that leg lesson 3 was learnt as due to the exhaustion, it needed to be instinctual instead of consciously. Lesson 3: Improve the fine sailing skills ie get out on a dinghy! At this point I was really put through my paces. Being awoken to the boat heading in the wrong direction then with the wrong sail up so having to take down a small one, put a bigger one up, change direction, take the big one down again and put the small one up all within an hour. By this time I was cream crackered and was instructed to eat and sleep to try again…

Waking up slightly refreshed and doggedly determined to continue, I was given the challenge of a windward/leeward course (into and away from the wind) to finish off. It was all going relatively well till a slight technical issue meant we had to return home early where I produced the video.

As ever, thank you ever so much to those involved (Artemis, Whitecap, Dee and Mikey to name a handful) for the chance to improve and become that sailor on the Vendée startline!

ZAPA corner….

I feel that ZAPA now needs a little box itself especially seeing as there's been quite a bit going on! Recently I made it through to the semi finals of the Young Startup Talent competition, now although I haven't made it through to the finals, the networking opportunity meant that it's now shaped into a much better business that can help industry, schools and students to the best of it's ability! Check out the event video here:

Rehab/Physio corner

This is going to be a slightly shorter one due to the amount of sailing that is happening and so the reduced amount of gym work (I need my beauty sleep)! Never the less, exciting things have been happening behind the scenes:

  1. I've now got confidence back in my knee as I've started to do some crazy exercises in the gym such as replicating the pedestal with a wobble board and cable pulls! All really good fun making workouts fun.
  2. Looking to start putting together a fitness plan to make the most of the time between now and big events like the TJV next year. I've got the help of Cherish at Perform to bounce idea off as I'm by no means an expert when it comes to personal training! Still, there's a few areas that needs strengthening before really putting my back into it... Literally!
  3. Depending on funding obviously, there's scope for producing research about certain aspects of solo sailing to gain insight into human performance, especially seeing as we're now the weak link aboard (like fighter-jet pilots)!

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