Today we have a work day ashore so I can pause for breath and catch up in the office. In the last week I have sailed three days in Cascais and spent four days in Abu Dhabi working with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
I was lucky enough to be able to present His Highness Sheikh Sultan, Chairman of the ADTA, with the Fastnet Race prize and the winning battle flag signed by the team. I also toured the stopover village venue and was really impressed by the work that has gone on and the plans in place for New Year in Abu Dhabi. I can’t wait!
Back in Cascais the program rolled on with Rob, Craig and Jules running the testing sessions. Slowly but surely we are building up our performance database and answering some of the outstanding questions we had on sail shapes and sizes. It is a lengthy process but with Si Fi collating all the data into a daily performance review we can all sit down and make sense of the numbers at the end of the day.
A good debrief is crucial to getting all the lessons or ideas discussed and written down. A typical training day is to meet at the base at 9am after the morning gym session. We briefly run through the plan for the day and get off the dock by 10am.
The Cascais winds have been very reliable so we are quickly into testing certain angles and sail configurations. We focus on the wind speeds and angles that we think we will see most in the race and where we have outstanding crossover or design queries.
In order to sail downwind for 90 minutes in strong wind we may need 40 miles of runway which would mean a four hour upwind slog to ‘make room’. Reaching is of course easier as you just blast out and back.
Every day there are normally other things to test like a manoeuvre, a new system or some new rigging. Yesterday we hit 35 knots boatspeed and I think we will hit 40 before too long.
We try to be back at the dock by 5pm to give the shore crew time to work on the boat when we get in. Tomorrow we head off on a three day offshore practice which enables the shore crew to have a day off and gives us the ability to sail much longer speed tests.
We only have a handful of testing days left before we head to Alicante for the start, so every hour counts. It is exciting to see how much we are learning about the boat and how much we are improving as a team. It is also great to have had Bruce Farr here sailing with us this week imparting his wisdom to the team.
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