It’s March 10th and very foggy. The visibility in the South English town Gosport is below 50 meters and the foghorns every few seconds create a scary vibe. On this day the boats of the Clipper Race Training Center stay alongside – too dangerous to go out through the busy channel around Portsmouth, especially with an unexperienced and not well-established crew (yet).
Basically these circumstances benefit the training schedule, because it allows the coaches to brief us deeply during 2 days in preparations and get us to know the boats by heart. The first two of four training sessions are held on the Clipper 68 boats, the second latest Clipper Race yachts. On our yacht called CV6 (Clipper Ventures 6) we are given lessons about the engine maintenance, gas installations, heads, galley, sailing equipment and much more. Also and not less important we were taught in detail about man over board drills and S.O.S.
On the third day the weather was finally ready for us. In typical English weather we headed out to the channel “Solent” and spent hours in light winds while exercising the first sailing maneuvers. This meant tacking, tacking and tacking. Between the tacks Bob made some spontaneous changes to our schedule. Bob, our life-size mannequin, was thrown overboard by our coaches Carol and Simon regularly to give us some man-over-board drills. Those are typically not so simple on a boat with freeboard over one meter, that made us recover the MOB with a rescue swimmer, lowered to the water on a halyard, for the drills luckily in a dry suit.
During the second part of our training the weather was very pleasant, we had a lot of sunshine and some more wind than the days before. Most of the nights we spent in the regional marinas, only exception was one night at anchor, under stars and a quite big moon – very nice. The last four days of the 7-days-training we had wind up to 20 knots and could continue our maneuvers. Hoisting, dropping, tacking, gybing, hoisting, reefing, MOB, gybing – over and over again. The last day of the training was used to clean the boat; most of the movable parts were put on deck or the pontoon to wash or dry and restore again to make the boats ready for the next training group. This routine will be done in all the race ports, along with some unavoidable and important maintenance work.
The first 3 training sessions take place in random groups, only the 4th training will be held together with the skipper and crew I’ll spend 11 month soon. In this training we were 9 sailors, whereof 2 women, and I hope to meet this team again on our round the world race. Clipper trains around 700 sailors in their Gosport training center and provides the best possible training to make us crew ready for the coming challenge. My second and third trainings will take place from May 20th.