So, just looking back over how things have gone so far with the Lynx Round Ireland Race crew and the boat. Race one, we had some serious light wind,
there was just nothing on the start line, everyone was sailing on the tide really. We got quite a good start but we just couldn’t get out into the flow and get
around Howth Head to keep up with the lead boats. But once we made some gains out into the tide, and we took off, the wind picked up and we were able to
get the symmetric kite up, which is really our strength and we just started to claw our way back up the course and picked a few boats off, which was great.
And then all the way up past Lambay Island we did really, really well and coming into Rockabill (a beautiful bird sanctuary east of Skerries Co. Dublin) it was clear we’d really come up the fleet quite a lot. Rounding Rockabill, we were back on the wind, sailing into the wind that had freshened quite a lot and some of the newer boats were just pulling away from us. And no matter what we did with the sails, or how we decided to attack them, we just couldn’t get back and we were doing everything we could to just hold onto the gains we’d made.
So after that, we decided that we definitely needed to go away and have a look at how the rig was tuned, to have a look at the tension in our rig and have a look
at how that was set up. So, about two weeks later I think, we were due to do an ISAF Offshore Safety Course so a few of us turned up at the boat on the Friday,
and we just got stuck in with spanners and tools and we slackened off the rig and then tuned it as best we could. And then we did a test sail over to Dun Laoghaire and it was obvious immediately that the boat was in much better shape upwind. So we were all really pleased with that as we fine-tuned her out under sail, it was fantastic!
And then we did the ISAF Offshore Safety Course, which is a requirement for the Round Ireland Race, which is a Category 2 offshore race. So there has to be a
certain number of the crew who have first aid, offshore first aid training and then a certain percentage of the crew has to have done this Offshore Safety Course. So we went to the INSS in Dun Laoghaire and Kenny Rumball put us through our paces as regards what we knew and what we didn’t know about safety equipment and what we had on-board. It was great that he knows the boat so well, he was able to put us right on what we should be doing and we did a few life raft drills in the pool, which was interesting as well. Especially for those who hadn’t ever been in a life raft, so it’s great experience to have, you know, moving forward as the well drilled team we want to be.
And then, I suppose, the Lambay race as part of the Wave Regatta at Howth over the June bank holiday weekend. I was really excited about this because I
really felt that the crew were coming together. I’ve sailed with a lot of guys on board you know, I’ve gone around Ireland with five or six people on this boat, but some of those guys didn’t know each other and it’s great to see everyone getting on and having the craic – if you’re not having fun, it is no fun!! And it’s – we’ve got a great bunch of piss takers on-board! which is great fun and so it’s good to see everyone getting on together and I was really excited about it because, you know, we were getting our race mainsail on the boat this weekend and we had the boat tuned properly and we were going to have a go with some new downwind sails too.
And so we got out there, it was a light wind start and I guess we were a little bit off the pace at the start but once we got going, we got around the first windward mark and popped the big blue kite, we were off again. You know this boat loves sailing off the wind. It just absolutely loves it, and it feels great when you just know the boat’s powered up. So we were able to take off, and once again, going past Lambay Island, we were picking off competitors. Coming into the top marks to turn around and head back for Howth, we were picking off people all the time and on the beat, we were able to cover boats. And by covering boats, I mean we were able to stop people from trying to pass us. We were able to stay ahead of much newer, much faster boats. And some of the boats that we couldn’t even catch in the race about three weeks ago, we were able – we were all over them this time, which is testament to the crew work and testament to the way we’ve set the boat up.
So, I’m really happy with the way things are going. I really feel the team is gelling and I think we’ve got great people. Just the lads leading things at the moment: Sean Flynn, Ronan Armstrong, two Sligo guys, that are, really at the top of their game here when it comes to this kind of racing. And Karl Brady and Dave O’Neil on the bow there just showing us all how it’s done, showing off by the end of it!! And then we followed the Lambay Race with a pretty intense training day. Racing’s all well and good, short course racing is great, but really sometimes you need to take time and just go through your procedures. I find with big boats, the key to everything is just having a process and even with small boats, I hear guys in GP14’s just talking about follow the process. And so we just worked on our systems and processes, we split the boat up into 2 watches, as it will be during the Round Ireland Race. So you had a one watch of four, a one watch of five people manoeuvring big sails. In a boat like this with a small number of people, these jobs are difficult and it takes organisation. But everyone rose to the challenge and I was really impressed with how the team picked things up. And we also did a whole bunch of safety manoeuvres like man over board drills; we talked through and then executed them. Some when not everyone was aware what was going on, we decided to do some when people were quite relaxed and it was so funny to – you know people were all over it, as they say.
We went through a lot of the navigation techniques and equipment. Everybody seems to be just delighted to learn and delighted to teach what they know. I’m
really impressed with that, how switched on these boys are and how keen they all are to learn more.. It’s just such a positive environment on the boat that I’m
really looking forward to the race!!