On Saturday Phil Sharp and team were visited by 13 cadets from the Royal Channel Island Yacht Club for an afternoon of core sailing challenges aboard Class 40 Imerys, providing insight into life as an offshore racer.
Navigation, sail changing, fitness, and food preparation are four key areas of offshore sailing which were set as challenges for the day. In teams, the Optimist, Wayfarer, Dragoon and Hobie 16 cadets rotated around the boat to complete timed challenges experiencing both the technical and fatiguing tasks that offshore sailors face.
The Class 40 has a maximum of eight different purpose sails when racing, therefore sail choice is key to ensuring the boat is performing at its best in each weather condition and for each leg of a race. Provided with charts, a plotter and dividers, a return course was set across the English Channel and the teams were tasked with identifying both the wind angles and sail choice to achieve the fastest sail configuration for each leg.
“It was impressive to see how quickly the cadets got to grips with understanding sail-charts and this fairly demanding nav challenge” skipper Phil commented. “It is often tricky to make the right call on what sail to put up, and often relies on some quick thinking and mental arithmetic so you can stay one step ahead around a race course.”
Whilst the navigation introduced cadets to making sail choices, the cadets were also given the important task of changing a sail as quickly as possible, where every second counts for minimising speed and distance lost during a race. Strength, speed and endurance were tested by dragging heavy sails out through the hatch and on to the foredeck, followed by attaching and hoisting a sail to the top of the mast. Both exhausting tasks on land, yet gruelling at sea with the boat crashing through waves.
“Last but not least we had a little on board MasterChef!” explained Phil. “Preparing a hot meal and drink in extreme conditions can be so important for your energy reserves and for boosting moral on board, so we gave the teams a breakfast challenge to make the nicest porridge and tea possible!”
RCIYC cadet, Elsa Swetenham comments, “Following Phil’s racing has been really exciting but actually being involved with the tasks on board has made us appreciate how challenging single handed sailing really is. It was a great opportunity and a valuable insight into offshore racing”.
Gordon Burgis of the RCIYC Sailing Committee commented, ‘It was truly inspiring to watch the RCIYC cadets compete and work together to fulfil a range of interesting on board activities, which challenged their physical and metal thought processes. It was as interesting for me as it was for the parents viewing from the pontoon, watching the excited youngsters taking to and accomplishing the tasks with unbridled enthusiasm”.