Sailing Logic's Fastnet team learn about trimming for speed in their second weekend of training, Jo Cackett reports

Saturday 14 May 2005 -The need for speed

The second weekend of training got off to a high start – literally. As I’m increasingly becoming the crew’s guinea pig, I was nominated as the person to climb the mast to grab the spinnaker halyard. My legs started to wobble as I was hoisted up, but I remained looking at the sky and actually enjoyed the view at the top before being lowered down. Though the fact that a new crew mate Mark was belaying me, a Scottish resident originally from Birmingham, did make me quiver a little more!

We set out on the water by midday, after a classroom session watching a North Sails video called ‘Trim for Speed’ – that apart from the cheesy American accents was a useful lesson on how to get maximum speed out of mainsail, spinnaker and jib trimming. Philippe (skipper) also debriefed us on the up and coming Myth of Malham race to St Helier in Jersey, and said: “preparation is absolutely paramount.” We have new Quantum sails about to be fitted, which we must treat like a baby. And Puma (our boat for the Fastnet) is in dry dock after having her belly smoothed from a wet and dry. So Jaguar, her twin Reflex 38, took her place for this weekend’s training.

It was unusually cold for mid-May and winds were gusting up to 18 knots. We spent the first couple of hours beating upwind to Portsmouth going over the trimming of the mainsail for optimum speed, which I’ll need quite a bit of practise on before it becomes automatic. As the saying goes: the more you learn, the more you don’t know.

We headed back downwind with the spinnaker up, on a reach. Being in the pit (playing the keyboards as I prefer to call it), was a good experience as I was unfamiliar with this position. Cruising back sitting on the foredeck with the sun setting through the clouds we were pretty relaxed after a less-active day. It was more of a theory lesson than a practical. But to entertain the crew, once again I was dangled over the guardrail feet first, an inch from the water and quickly slipping from the grip of my persecutors – although I didn’t go in, at that point I wasn’t laughing anymore!

Sunday 15 May 2005 – Sunshine and smooth sailing

In the morning we awoke to glorious sunshine and perfect 14 knots of wind for sail trim training.

On the helm I was struggling to remain ‘in the groove’, and keep the boat at maximum speed as we sailed upwind. Again we concentrated on mainsail trim, concentrating on the sail shape – such as tightening the outhaul, cunningham and backstay. As Philippe said with a smirk: “Sometimes a couple of inches does matter!”

We sailed around the Solent, towards No Man’s Land Fort in the sunshine, hoisting and dropping the spinnaker until lunch beckoned our weary arms. After lunch, we continued with the spinnaker, concentrating on gybing and trimming the kite. I was on the guy and in the pit again, and everyone rotated positions. We finished the day with a mock race in Southampton Water. With Mark on the helm (an experienced cruising sailor), we made a good start and held our course well. Apart from a few hairy moments where the pole got a bit too close to tearing a hole in the kite – (the skipper nearly had a hernia), we sailed well and to celebrate, the Wombat (as I’ve now been coined) was once again swung upside down with her head inches away from getting dunked in the slimy Southampton marina water.

With next weekend off, we’ll be resting up to get ready for the 122-mile race from Cowes to St Helier, Jersey. Our team is raring to go, even Brian chose training this weekend over his 40th wedding anniversary. What dedication!