Monday, 26 August 2013

Gosport to London

The Jamaica Clipper is now safely berthed in St Katherine's Dock in the shadow of Tower Bridge having been safely delivered on Friday afternoon along with the 11 other Clipper yachts. We set off from Gosport on Monday afternoon with a practice race across the Channel to France then back up to the Isle of Wight then eastwards past Dover, north and then west up the Thames estuary to Southend Pier where all the boats rendezvoused for a carefully planned procession up the Thames past the Millenium Dome, Greenwich and Canary Wharf.  We were expecting a quiet entrance to St Kats but were really surprised to see quite a crowd there to welcome the boats in, and after some very careful manoeuvring all were safely moored up.  Sails were packed up, decks were cleared and hosed down but before too long the local pub was bursting with thirsty sailors having a well earned drink. I headed back to Edinburgh but am back on board on Tuesday for a busy week of boat preparation as well as a reception at the Jamaican High Commission, official naming ceremony, race briefings and of course the crew party before we get down to the serious business of Race 1 to Brest.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Gosport Boat Prep

Set off from Edinburgh on Thursday morning getting to Gosport mid afternoon.  No sign of the Jamaica boat but headed off to and empty office which had been commandeered to do the victualling, which involved sorting out all the food for the crew for 29 days plus trip up to London.   A massive logistical challenge which involve planning every meal and then bagging up each days menus in numbered bags plus all the regular items, snacks and hot drinks. Not sure how much coffee is going with us but we do have 2,200 tea bags!  Lots of savoury spicy sauces to keep the food interesting as well as providing a range of meals for all diets.  It has all then to be stowed on the boat but not yet!

The boat arrived from the yard on Friday looking a bit naked and so the last few days have been spent  fitting out and loading up ready for the trip to London and then onwards to Brazil.  Departure from Gosport is scheduled for tomorrow provided we are ready but it has been a massive effort by all the crews so far and the Barinas is an absolute hive of activity.

Once in London we have our reception at the Jamaican High Commission and then on Thursday the official naming of the Jamaica boat and possibly a Jamaican celebrity - he's hoping!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Nearly there

One more day at work and then I head down to Gosport to help out with the race preparations on the Jamaica boat, then departing Sunday for a last training week/delivery to St Katherine's Dock where the boats will remain until race start on Sunday 1st September.  No doubt all will go smoothly as St Kats is managed by GVA. The arrangements are all falling into place with briefings, a party or two and the details of the start procedure.  On Tuesday 28th we have been invited to a reception by Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet-Assama, the High Commissioner for Jamaica at the Jamaican High Commission in London which is exciting and is a real sign of what it means to be representing that country.

Packing is almost complete having whittled down my original pile of " essentials" to the 20 kg limit imposed on all crew to keep the racing weight down. When you start with sea boots, foul  weather gear and sleeping bag, base layers, mid layers and wet wipes, leaves about 50 g for everything else.  The excitement and trepidation are growing in equal measure and really just can't wait to start racing.  First stop Brest in Brittany and then across the Atlantic to Rio.  Let's go!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Team Jamaica Weekend

Just returned from a really good weekend meeting future team mates and planning for the race which is now less than a month away.  The team is getting stronger by the day and developing a strong Team Jamaica identity which is great.  Before long we will be into boat prep in Gosport customising our boat and then it's farewell to Gosport as we head up to St Katherine's Dock at Tower Bridge in London for race start on 1st September; and that is shaping up to be a massive event.
On Sunday I headed home via London and couldn't resist a short diversion to Trafalgar Square to have a look at the Great Britain Clipper sitting proudly outside the National Gallery.  Absolutely stunning and drawing the crowds who hopefully will support the start and parade of all 12 Clippers down the Thames.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Level 3 Training

Just finished my third week's training with Pete Stirling, our skipper on Team Jamaica, and new crew mates. We set off on Tuesday afternoon and, apart from a brief re-stocking visit to Gosport, spent the week at sea on one of the brand new Clipper 70s. We had everything from baking flat calm conditions ( are we moving?) to Force 7 in the black of night.  The hardest part was definitely getting used to the 4 hours on 4 off regime which is standard for the  race, but also pretty exhausting.

On Friday we had a "Le Mans" race start just outside Portsmouth for the Clipper boats and raced hard for the next 33 hours to a first win for Team Pete. Let's hope that is a sign of things to come.

Next stop is Gosport in mid August to help with the boat prep and then delivery up to London for race start, and no doubt some last minute practice en route.   It is suddenly feeling very real with the excitement, anticipation and some trepidation all building up to race start in 35 days time.