ED HILL: Time to prove myself

ED HILL: Time to prove myself

Tuesday March 5 2013 Author: Artemis Offshore Academy Location: United Kingdom

With just two days until Ed Hill takes on his first competitive solo Figaro race, he ponders what he has to prove..

After a long overdue weekend back in blighty, we are now down to business in La Grande Motte as we come to the end of the winter season. Thursday 7th March marks the start of my first ever solo race and after three months with the Artemis Offshore Academy, it’s now time to stop the talking and start performing. Three months is not a lot of time at all, but hopefully it’s been enough time in training to have made me competitive. 

Having a large amount of crewed offshore miles already under my belt, the actual build up to this race is not that dissimilar to that of races I have done before and I am very comfortable with this. Obviously all of the responsibility for the boat and passing all the measurement checks lies with me, but still, this is not that far removed from being a skipper or manager of a race boat.  

For now the pre-race nerves are yet to kick in and instead it’s the time for me to really start ticking off all the little jobs off the jobs list and trying to prepare myself for every eventuality.  For me, exactly the same as in crewed offshore sailing, the more you think about what might happen next, how a wind shift or a breakage will affect your performance; the more you can anticipate changes and increase your performance. I really think visualisation and mental planning will play a massive role in my performance this week and anything I can do to now to help with this will pay dividends come the weekend. 

Our course for the weekend is a start in La Grande Motte with an overnight race to Marseille; this will probably take around 24 hours.  Once in Montpellier, we will have three short inshore races on Saturday followed by a long (possibly 48 hours) race back to La Grande Motte on the Sunday and hopefully finishing on the Tuesday lunchtime. The forecast at the moment looks slightly confused with a potentially big breeze, which may or may not die down by the time the race starts on Thursday. At the moment the race organisers are yet to finalise the course, so my plan has been to only look at the big picture with more in depth studies planned for Tuesday onwards. Looking so far ahead is sometimes scare mongering and the accuracy of the forecast increases dramatically once you reach the 48 hour window.  

So far, I have yet to really post a result in any of our training races that I have wanted to jump and shout about. For sure I have had some solid results, but at the same time I have made silly errors. For me, this race is all about eliminating errors and trying to get a decent result under my belt. It is not the be all or end all and winning or loosing this race will not make my season, but at the same time a decent result will do wonders for my confidence and hopefully give something back to the Artemis team in the UK who have been helping and supporting my campaign so far.  

The longer 48 hour leg of the race will hopefully play into my hands and provide me valuable practice and preparation for the longer Solitaire du Figaro legs which are about 400nm. I still need to work out how best to manage my sleep and for this I think it will be a case of trial and error. My plan is to sleep in very short periods, probably 10-15 minutes at any one time and see how this works, hopefully by the end of the race I will have a much better idea of what works for me going forwards. Food wise, I am planning on trying to eat three regular meals a day and use only boil in the bag foods. On the Figaro water supplies are limited, so freeze fried food has little benefit and also the added benefit of boil in the bag foods is that the hot water can be used to make coffee – for those that know me well this is my weakness and although I hate instant coffee, this is what will become my life line!

Right now, I’m into the final checks on my boat and a few days of doing my homework on the routing and weather.  I can’t wait for the race to start, for sure it’s going to be incredibly tough both physically and mentally, but this is exactly why I took a step back from North Sails and it’s time to prove myself.  

Ed Hill

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