JACK BOUTTELL: It's go time

JACK BOUTTELL: It's go time

Thursday March 7 2013 Author: Artemis Offshore Academy Location: United Kingdom

WIth one day to go until his first ever solo competitive race, Jack Bouttell updates on his pre-race thoughts...

The long awaited ICOM Cup Méditérranée is nearly here and we are into the final stages of working on the boats. Although, we are spending a lot of our time in the classroom looking over weather and getting to grips with the small land effects and local knowledge of the different winds directions that will make a big difference during the race. I find it very interesting when looking over the weather and tactics, but also slightly daunting when I think about how much there still is to learn on the subject. It’s a massive amount of information and I am loving having the opportunity to learn more about it, I just hope it has all stuck in my head for when I need it.

I was planning to head back to the UK over the weekend, but I stayed down in lovely La Grande Motte. I planned to have a chilled weekend away from the boat and relaxing, but I ended up spending all of Saturday on 77 and on Sunday I ran a half marathon race. The big job for the weekend was to sand down the bottom of the boat to get a good finish on her, which took a bit of a shoulder work. I also managed to successfully covered all of my clothes, person and the inside of the van in white dust… it was a great success!

The run on Sunday was good and the busiest I have ever seen La Grande Motte with over 2000 entrants. It was a lovely day and there was a great atmosphere around the town. I haven’t been doing much running and my legs weren’t so happy after the 16km mark, but they kept going and there were loads of people standing around the course yellng ‘‘Bon Courage!’’, which was great. A few days on, minus the fact my legs are a bit sore and I’m hobbling a bit, which does look slightly odd; I am happy with my decision to stay down in France and sort the boat.

I find it a hard balance between getting the boat perfect, working on it all the time and time away from the boat. I was really in two minds about going back to the UK as time away from the boat is important, but I think I would be really annoyed with myself if the boat wasn’t perfect and that would affect my race more than some time off. I’m looking forward to lining-up against a larger pool of competitors that don’t train at CEM with us. We know where we stand when comparing against the guys we train with, but with a few new boats and a course into new waters it will be very interesting to see how we get on.

The boat is ready to go and I think that I have enough food to get me around. I have five freeze-dried meals for the 24 hour first leg and I think the biggest challenge will be finding the time to eat. Having done a lot of offshore sailing before, I know that eating is always a challenge even with a crew let alone solo. If the conditions are good and not much is going on then it is fairly easy to find time, but with rough conditions or challenging navigational sections of courses where full concentration is needed to avoid beaching the vessel - it is a bit trickier. When I stop eating I stop functioning, so it is going to be a hard decision to make if eating means leaving the helm and possibly losing a position. Losing a position is easy to deal with in the short term, but longer term it can be much more costly.

I am looking forward to this first solo adventure, I think we will all learn a huge amount and the experience we will gain will be invaluable for our future races in northern France. Sailing into a new area is always great, although looking at the current forecast there could be some windy spinnaker action through a small group of rocks that will be entertaining. Last time I was in Marseille, I found an amazing little back street restaurant and I will be on a mission to find it again after the finish.

Jack Bouttell

Follow Jack, Ed and Henry's progress during the ICOM Cup Méditérranée via the race tracker here

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