After trying to organise it for a long time, I finally managed to get Felix Hemsley over to Lymington for a bit of a photo shoot. We wanted to get some new shots for the sponsors, as well as some film for training purposes. There’s nothing like filming yourself to work out what you need to imporve on, so armed with a few thousand pounds worth of camera equipment (his, not ours..) and a promise that “dude, no worries, you won’t break a thing and it’ll be dry”, we rocked up to Lymington to be greeted with torrential rain and 20 knots of breeze. After sitting in the cab for ten minutes, the low passed over and the we stepped out into wall to wall sunshine.
After rigging up (it’s very difficult to rig up plus ensure that the photographer is getting your best side….) we wandered over to the gruff RNLI men to find out what conditions we could expect. “You’re going out?” he said with a grin….
“erm, yep. looks ok to me. what’s it blowing?”
“Hmm, 25knots, gusting 30. If you’re going out, how about we keep the boat on the water for you shall we? You know, just in case….”
Right. Ok, we didn’t have much choice so we pulled the sails up (whilst trying to look all casual and unfussed as the boat did it’s best to jump off the trolley and fly away…) and launched.
After sailing out through Lymington river, both in the toe loops on a broad reach, we hit the Solent, or rather, then Solent hit us… in the face. With 25 knots of very angry wind and waves that just didn’t appreciate the finer arts of trying to keep a boat flat. To avoid having to go downwind too much, be blasted off towards Cowes in the death zone (an angle to the wind where everything just seems to go wrong, in a very sharp, painful and altogether upside down way) to practice our bearaways. However, we very quickly realised that with the strong wind against tide current, bad things were about to happen. Besides, I was getting the “lets call it a day” cut throat gesture from Felix on the RIB, as he fought to keep his camera equipment dry and in one piece. We decided to stay out a little longer, but it was getting to the stage where, even though both sails were completely let go, we were still nearly getting blown flat..
So after much conversation ( Me: “WE SHOULD GO IN…” ….Jus: “WHAT?” Me: ” I SAID WE SHOULD GO IN!” Jus: “I CAN’T HEAR A THING! WE SHOULD GO IN!” Me: “WHAT????!” ) we called it a day and pulled a bearaway (yes, it’s 25 knots and there are steep choppy waves around us. Why tack when you can bear away and learn something? Why drop the spinnaker when you can gybe drop?) and blasted back home.
The photos are now up on flickr so go and have a look. Felix could only shoot whilst we were still in the river or in flat water, so they don’t really do the conditions justice. We’re all very happy with the photos though, and Felix turned out to be a pretty hard nut to risk all of his equipment in those conditions. Thanks goes out to Felix (check out his site: www.felixhemsley.com) and our elegant RIB driver Maria Claridge.