Level Four [July 2017]

Level 4 Training

Gosport, UK

Level 4 Training, Week 2 [5th - 11th July 2017]

Can anyone else quite believe that we are already at the point of Level 4 training? Does anyone else feel that it was only yesterday that we signed up for this mammoth adventure? Just me, no?

The Clipper Race Training office was a hive of activity on the morning of the 5th July as 9 Level 4 training crews descended to Gosport to sign-in, receive their new kit, get on board their yacht, get a bunk etc. It was incredibly busy, but worked well, like a well-oiled machine. 
Once on board, Ali was in charge of getting our Foul Weather Gear labelled up, with our names and initials - when they came back, they looked great! 
Getting the first brief of the day
The morning was spent organising and receiving briefs from our Skipper Chris, and getting a whirlwind safety brief and a run-down of the Clipper 70. We also organised the life jackets, checked the over, fitted them, and then we packed them correctly, we also discussed the jobs onboard (Mother, Navigation, Cleaners, Engineers, and Deck Hand). We were also divided into watches. Odds and Evens, as opposed to Port and Starboard because we would be hot bunking during race time and it would get confusing. I must admit, it feels pretty awesome to be back on board. 

This first day was all about getting ready to depart just after 1400, to get out into the Solent and practice our manoeuvres… “Ready to tack, Runner Back!”, “Helm to Lee”, “Lee Ho!” *Lots of winch noise*, Calm. Our tacks, gybes, MoB, AiS drills were all pretty smooth for the first day, and we made our way to Cowes, Isle of White to pick  up a mooring for the night. 
Sailing, Sailing, Sailing!
During the night we took post of anchor watch, each pair would be up for the hour checking the run of the line, position etc. We were also left with a list of jobs to do… all of us could not find THAT PIPE! Turns out… on deep clean.. we did! Sorry Chris!

It was an early start on day 2, as we left three two other Clipper Yachts on their moorings, we headed out to continue training. We focussed on Boat-to-Boat Transfer, towing, as well as continued tacks and gybes. It was in this training day, (please correct me if I am wrong guys!) that we decided to film out manoeuvres and get a good time… if anyone else on a Level 4 course from Team Qingdao can
shake a reef in 40 seconds… please let us know! I’ll set up a “Qingdao records” book! (Yes, Ali, there is a notebook ready for a daily funometer!) We also carried out a practice medivac of a casualty from the foredeck, I must say, excellent acting from Bastiaan! 
In each exercise we took it in turns to work in different positions, and we were soon into the watch system, with our jobs also.
Le Mans Start
By day 3, we were preparing for the training race. This meant carrying out a few practice starts, including “Le Mans” as well as a regular race start. It was all very formal. A committee boat was present with members of the clipper office on board, calling the time to start and race course etc. As the fleet lined up, it was quite a sight, even with us not all being branded. It just looked so smart. Everyone was “Fired-Up” ready for the race ahead. The race starts were only a practice ready for the race to being at 1400. We won’t mention the cheating tactics from other teams, shall we?!? 
As the race starts took place some members of our crew took note of set-ups of other yachts, and “Trimmer-Thomas” was “all over” the trimming of our yacht to get the best out of her. When race start came around, it certainly was a slow one for us, but that didn’t deter us from making sure that we were trimmed well, and making good VMG toward the next waypoints. We were sailing along nicely, the C3 up, and was well balanced. We made good headway towards France, and our secret weapon was lined up and ready. As we approached the marker there were 4 other clipper yachts that had tacked and were making their way towards the marker. As we approached, we had three different plans in place, and skipper made the call, we would drop the Spinnaker, hoist the yankee, harden up, and be away, and what a treat it was! We were absolutely flying along. Working hard on trim and keeping the boat working hard.
We returned to the watch system, and made sure we were trimming all of the time. We were best part of the journey home, and out dog-fight with Team GT occurred. We were flying Yankee 1, Staysail and a Reef in the main, they had yankee 2 and a reef. As we approached, they saw that we were all on deck, sitting on the high-side, they quickly adjusted their sail plan to try and keep ahead of us. It was an intense battle, inching ahead, dropped behind and so on… big (?) fun!. At watch change the battle continued, and good food was had. The battle continued until day break, but GT was ahead, and we weren’t able to catch them. 
Our dear Skipper, was exhausted by the end of this week, and it became a good challenge for the crew to: A) Find him, and B) wake him up!! (Sorry, Chris!) 
We returned safely to Gosport in the early hours of 11th July, a well deserved coffee a plan was devised to smash out a deep clean and get off the boat!! 
Rose, Vicky and I (13/14 Reunion)
It was also a nice touch towards the end of the deep clean to be visited by a member of the 2013/2014 Edition of the race, Vicky Song. She was the first Chinese Woman to circumnavigate, and in her race she was also on board Qingdao. This was also a lovely reunion for Rose, and I with Vicky, as we had also raced in the 13/14 edition onboard Jamaica Get All Right and Team Garmin respectively. Clipper, is a big family - friends for life.
If you have not already seen it - Bastiaan made a short video of our week with the theme tune, which soon became the “wake up the next watch” song!! Check out the video here
I must share my thanks (on behalf of the team) to Rose, your victualling was brilliant, and it was great to not have too much left over! Lots of great food, thank you! I must also say thank you to the team, from me, what an incredibly fun bunch you were! I was still in my incredibly jet-lagged state, even so, it was a great week. Lastly, but far from least… Skipper - thanks for an excellent week on board the mighty CV29 Qingdao. With some honing of the other manoeuvres get it all down to 40 seconds, we’ll smash race records, and be at the front of the pack! 
Thanks team, see some of you on prep week!