Our yachtmaster students head down under for the second phase of their fastrack course

Tonight we’re embarking on the next chapter of our course as we jet off to the Whitsundays, Australia.

It’s incredible to think that the first eight weeks of the Yachtmaster course have already passed. Less than two months ago I arrived in Cowes a complete beginner, barely knowing the front end of a boat from the back. I now have a fantastic feeling of achievement as I think back to everything I’ve learnt. I’ve got a handful of qualifications under my belt (including Yachtmaster theory) and am feeling more and more confident each time I step aboard a boat. The jargon is no longer Greek to me and I love being part of a crew enjoying the freedom of sailing. Though I realise I still have very limited experience I do feel I have a good understanding of the basics of sailing and I look forward to building on that.

The final two weeks on the Isle of Wight were fantastic. One week of race training and then participating in Cowes Week was a huge learning experience for all of us. It’s amazing how fast your knowledge is consolidated on a race boat. Admittedly racing wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly cemented both the practical and theoretical sides of sailing and gave us all a real sense of purpose on board. In the debrief session following Cowes Week everyone was still buzzing with the excitement of the regatta and it was evident that everyone had gained a lot in terms of experience and fun. The only low points were the unmissable bruises covering most bodies, but each one told a story and proved that we were indeed racing and not simply cruising.

When we arrive in Australia we’ll be diving for a week (Flying Fish’s Yachtmaster program includes a week of dive training) before jumping aboard a Beneteau First 40.7 to head south for Sydney. The offshore passages will total around two thousand miles and will give us plenty more experience of skippering, night sailing and also coastal navigation.

Eight weeks ago I would have been very apprehensive about this passage. Now I can’t wait to put my new found knowledge to the test and put a few thousand miles in my wake! Unfortunately, due to us being offshore for much of the time, my regular reports will no longer be quite as frequent.