It’s been great to be back sailing big boats and to have the opportunity to train on a Class 40 for the winterAlex Laline
So after what was the end of the racing season for Skeiron and some work confirmed with the expedition company Rubicon 3 for the month of October, it was time to head back to the UK and leave Skeiron 911 in La Rochelle.
After the mandatory self-isolating period after landing in the country, I joined the Clipper 60 yacht “Starling” for a trip that would take us through some different ports in the South coast of the UK.
It was my first time sailing big boats again since my last job back in February. “Starling” was supposed to be the yacht I would have sailed from Australia to South Africa from August to November if it hadn’t been for this Pandemic, so it was really nice to be able and have the luck to go out sailing on her even with the current situation.
It is impressive how big the difference makes to sail on a 6.5 m boat compared to an 18 m one!! It took me a couple of days to get used again to the load of the lines and the heavy equipment onboard, but I was back quickly on my comfort zone.
I was 1st mate with my mentor Emily Caruso as Skipper, I’ve sailed with Emily countless of times and we’ve sailed together across the Atlantic, around the spanish coast, Norway, Abu Dhabi and many other places around the world, so it was great to be back sailing big boats with her in charge.
After getting the boat ready we had the crew joining us and to be Covid safe we created a “bubble”, with every member of the bubble having tested negative. Shoutout to Rubicon 3 to organise a safe environment and allow us to go out sailing!
We spent a couple of weeks exploring the south coast of the UK, sailing and training while enjoying being outdoors, socialising and having fun.
After our arrival to “Staling’s” home port of Gosport, an amazing opportunity presented itself thanks to the help of Emily. It consisted on helping Neil Payter (the only British to finish the stormy 2017 OSTAR race) getting his Class 40 ready for the next OSTAR race starting on May 2021.
A Class 40 is basically the same as a Mini boat but double the size. The systems all run the same way, they have the same sails, the same steering system, the same down-below space… although the Class 40 also count with water ballast. So with the lockdown in France being very strict and the lockdown in England ending any possibility of another job, I took this opportunity without thinking about it.
So this last few weeks have been all about getting to know the boat, trying different sails, reaching speeds of almost 20 knots and learning a lot with the experience of Neil as a single-handed sailor.
The plan is to keep helping, training, sailing and learning with Neil and “Cariberia” during this winter months and get some double-handed miles while getting the most out of this opportunity.