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Crew member on GBR8308T Playing Around Logic

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Firstly, I must start this piece by way of an apology. In a previous blog a little typo crept in whilst being bounced up and down on the waves, and "..the boys of British Soldier" accidentally got shortened to something less complementary. As we know you are reading this, guys (& girls?), no offence intended - sorry. We are aware that many of you have served time in Afghanistan recently.

We've made a dive south here in the Celtic Sea, looking for the favourable S shift. Have we gone far enough or too far? time will tell.

Meanwhile, these bumpy upwind conditions are far from pleasant, living at 45degrees. We expect now to be on Stbd tack for at least 18hrs and the heads (nautical term for toilet) only works on Port tack much to the consternation of the ladies aboard. Last night felt cold again, though we know this is largely due to the apparant wind being so high as we sail upwind.

Last night the wind rose to 25kts and as we left the Irish coast the waves started to build. Nothing spectacular, but coming over the coachroof giving everyone a good drenching, Those nice fresh socks (last

pair) went on yesterday afternoon are now sopping wet. Well, bliss for a couple of hours. One or 2 crew members had visions of Sula Sugheir returning, but fortunately it turned out to be nothing of the sort.

Every time we switch on the engine to charge batteries and make water, schools of dolphins come over. Whilst we are maybe 60miles from the nearest land, the sea is full of life and warm. Last night we got an amazing halo around the moon (can any of you tell us what it was?) and a full night's sky of stars. Simply a stunning place to be.

As the wind rises and falls a little in strength, we put in/shake out reefs, change between #2 and #4 headsails. At night the crew work tirelessly with the Atlantic high pressure hose on full power in their faces, pulling up/down sails, flaking them neatly (i've been told it was neat when it went in the bag) before flaking out themselves in the lee-cloths on top of one another for a few hours kip.

And the cabin staff? Chateau Briandt with a fine Claret was on the menu, sadly they couldn't find it in the provisions (where did it go?) so we settled for boil in the bag. An excellent compromise. Some just had shortbread and cold snacks...fresh from the bottom of the washing machine.

We're now down to the real long term food, as UHT milk has dried up

(literally) so cereal won't taste quite as great now.

Thanks for all the advice, esp on food and nutrition. We'll bear it in mind before we set off next time. The alarm stopped on the engine, but is back now, so definately salty water in the electrics somewhere. At least not a major problem.

Love from all on PA x

Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Toward the end of Red watch's 1200-1800 shift, the winds lightened to the teens the Nr 4 head sail was replaced first with th nr 3 and then with the medium heavy nr 1. We treat all our sails with great respect, especially those with battens. Particularly when they are downstairs, as a broken batten would wreck the sail shape and kill the sails power.

The evening shift for blue watch was pretty gentle with an ongoing discussion as to when the Spinny could come out. With the wind on the beam and light winds it wasn't time yet.

I wonder if all minds, like mine, are reflecting on the night before in the 40knot winds and the rough seas. The stints on the helm remain vivid, surfing and sliding through the paths that appear ahead in the seascape, sensing the wind shifts and wrestling to recover the mistakes. The whole experience made more intense in the knowledge that help is so far away. It is clearer to me now why folks chose this way of life.

Minds (well some)wander to the progress of Letticia and Lolita. These two limp lettuce, cast adrift the previous day are now comfortable in the potatoe cupboard on board the Irish trawler headed for county Cork, the fishermen were undoubtedly monitoring the progress of Cheeki Rafiki on the RBI, crewed by Ben and Adam's dad Gary Perry from Hampshire. However, neither Letticia nor Lolita has noticed from their hiding place among the spuds, the book nestling on the shelf next to the compulsory 'fishing for dummys'. It's the best selling compendium '101 uses for a limp lettuce whilst becalmed!

The sheething on the starboard spinny haliard was repaired by the resident embroidery group under 'Gary Grimstitch', they now include 'whipping' in their growing armoury of needlework solutions. An embroidered seat for the heads is under consideration as a conciliatory gesture to Steve, given the trashing his beloved boat is suffering.

Is there a gap in the market?. ,,,,,

It takes a male yachty an hour to concede he must go for a pea, leaving only 5 minutes to spare if an embarassment is to be averted.

Why therefore, are all the oily things designed such that under the full monty gear when your absolutely wet and cold, the minimum possible time from 'decision to go' to 'huge relief', (allowing for the queue as all male crew are daft enough to drink tea at the same time) is 15 mins?

We changed shifts at 1800 hrs and took the opportunity to eat together. Can't remember the food but this was the first time we had relaxed as a full crew since leaving Cowes. A special few minutes.

To make the day perfect the dolphins came back and surfed for a few brief minutes. Gareth lost his hat earlier so the discussion inevitably drifted to speculation that one of these beautiful creatures may well be, as we speak, trying it for size.

St Kilda, is such a brooding place at dusk under cloud. This place with it's special histories was a welcome sight from over 20 miles away and we gladly bade fairwell to what has on occasion been a holy place.

Our next voyage, further into the atlantic is the 230 miles leg, bearing 200 degrees to Black Rock and Ireland. Off we go!

A lesson learned for me, from the last 24 hours, is don't helm too long. Tiredness creeps up so handover regularly.

Ken Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device

Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Red watch came on 2200 - 0200hrs and continued to monitor the options, hoping the wind would come behind enough for the kite to go up.

It wasn't ideal, especially in the dark, but Nick decided to have a go just before midnight, with John on the Helm and technical support to get it up ( a rare need for Nick) from Steve and Gareth.

It was worth a try and the boat surged forward. However the wind was still determined to stay as a reach and the spinny wasn't happy. After an hour the Medium heavy went back up and the kite was bagged.

Blue watch returned 0200- 0600 to find the breeze continuing to fall. Gareth took the chance to catch on more zeds having supported red watch for much of the previous shift..

The wind progressively fell to 8 knots so the light nr1 was raised. We made a tactical error here, doing this bareheaded rather than tacking to keep the boat moving. When a hitch arose delaying the raise, the boat speed collapsed.

Only 30 minutes later we were in the centre of the extensive low and started to wallow, dropping the headsail to protect it from a repeat of earlier damage.

From 0500 we were becalmed, headsail down, watching the sunrise and the sea birds as they skim over the waves at zero height, playing on the air cushions they build immediately ahead of them.

We handed over at 0600 to Red watch with the welcome hellos as first John, Steve, Nick and then, Martin emerge.

Frustration sets in, big time.

Ken Allison, Blue Watch Leader,

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Crew member on GBR1429L British Soldier

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DAY 11 - FRI 3 SEP 10 - 2100 HRS

The beating(s) continue! Having rounded Bishop's Rock and the Isles of Scilly to a stunning daybreak, the wind, relentless in its quest to remain in the east and head us at every opportunity, has done just that. So more beating in store for BS and her crew, with our eyes glued to the wind instruments to pick up the faintest sign of a shift that may benefit us in any way. Today has been immensely tactical, with many an hour spent pouring over the weather GRIB files and the tidal atlases. For us it's worked quite well as we rounded the Lizard with a favourable push before heading deep into Plymouth Bay in order to counter the fairer tides. We hope to do the same for Start Point later on tomorrow morning and then Lyme Bay, before making the final tidal gate of Portland Bill on Sat afternoon.

Life aboard BS remains decidedly (ab)normal. Relations between the two watches has changed from a distinctly cordial, to quiet resentment and now to near open hostility. Teas and coffees are regularly spiked with unpleasantries, oilskin trousers/jackets are routinely ransomed 5 mins before the unfortunate victim is due on deck, whilst the harshest trick of all was to rouse the off watch, prepare them for a move to the high side yawning and clutching sleeping bags, only to have been subjected to a 'bluff' tack. The on watch laughter went on annoyingly so for a good 3 hours. Suffice to say they weren't caught out again. The 1st Mate (now nicknamed 'Barnacle Paul' or 'Crustacean Paul' (depending on your Watch) steadfastly refuses to get involved in inter-Watch politics, other than to grumble and groan which sets minds worrying. He's definitely not been the same since the coffee ran out. Indeed, most things are beginning to run out. In those early days when it looked like we were going to be round in 3ish days, ration bags Days 14 and backwards were confidently dipped into. 1st Mate put a stop to the looting when a member of Port was caught clutching a 9 pack of Kit Kats from Day 8 (and this was on Day 3!).

At 1600 hrs we had clocked 2000 miles on the log, although we have a suspicion that the log over reads on starboard, so how accurate that figure is remains to be seen. However, it won't be far off. This race has been a bit of an (enjoyable) slog. With the exception of the run down to Dover when it was too breezy to hold the kite, we've calculated that we've only flown the kite for approx 8 hours - saving us a fortune in sail loft repairs! The rest of the race has been white sail reaching or close hauled with more to follow.

That's all from me. Off to find my clearly marked sleeping bag ("Neither Port nor Starboard").


Crew member on GBR7383R Visit Malta Puma

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Hello there, I am Philippe

I looked at the smiling face topped with highlighted hair complete with the obligatory shades and thought what the hell am I doing here!

Here I was the Waterfront at Shamrock on a Friday night in May 2005 and I was there to join up with Sailing Logic for the RORC offshore shore racing series which that year culminated in the Fastnet. To say that I was nervous would be a massive understatement, my entire sailing experience comprised two legs of the Clipper 2000. I was probably unique in that I had 12000 miles in my log book but had only sailed in/out of a port less than 10 times. Added to which any smattering of knowledge that I might have picked up during my time with Clipper had long since evaporated.

Philippe introduced Allie and whilst she was of course all smiles, I was struck by the clarity and determination in her eyes. We had a couple of beers, they introduced me to Puma, said goodnight and went home to their warm beds leaving me to wonder. I had in fact sailed on a Reflex 38 during my training with Clipper. Memorable because I was violently sick for the first and last time in my brief sailing career. Spag Bol I recall taught me to eat little and often on the boat.

The following morning we met as crew for the first time. I did not know whether to be reassured or not to find that they were a mixture of dingy sailors, inshore racers and relative novices. Philippe outlined the campaign, training etc and we were encouraged to identify our own personal aims. It was during this session that I began to realise that here was a man who was passionate about his sailing and the enjoyment and satisfaction it could bring. This did not prevent me from thinking that he was absolutely mad when he gave us his targets for the season top 10 IRC1 and a podium place in 1 race!

The rest is history first in class Fastnet, first place over the season in IRC1.

There have been many memorable occasions over the past 6 seasons, mostly good but one or two bad.

Our first start can hardly be classed as memorable since it passed for me as a blur, with sound effects hoist, prepare to tack, bear away, starboard this latter accompanied by a few choice words which I gather were directed off the boat. It was absolute chaos, to this day I do not understand how anyone can have the degree of awareness and consummate sailing skill not only to avoid a collision but also to get us over the line with the leaders.

Then silence. We are across the line in first place and amazingly have the spinnaker up. I breathe for the first time in what seems like 20mins and take stock. What a wonderful feeling, on a spinnaker run there is no wind effect, its almost peaceful! There is no more beautiful sight than looking back at the fleet with the sunlight on their multi coloured kites. Notice I said looking back, they do not look quite so pretty when viewed from the other direction!

Round Britain & Ireland 2006 comes under the dual category of good and bad memories. So much of the latter that we swore never again so explain why I am penning this during the latter stages of the 2010 RBI!

Fastnet 2007 Sailing Logic have 7 boats entered and all crews muster at the Royal Southampton in Ocean Village. Stirring presentation by Philippe and Allie, strange strip by Peter, then off to the boats for a training day. Puma first to leave the dock, forward instead of reverse, in front of the massed ranks we run into the pontoon at speed, big chunk out of the bow, end of training day.

Fastnet 2007 was also the Annus Horribilis (sic) for Puma, crew never came together as a team for which all can take responsibility. Poor season, discord culminating in Fastnet itself when Tom broke his leg and we had to divert to Salcombe. As if that was not enough the crew decided against going out again. What a comparison with this year.

Madeira 2008 the weather around Ushant was absolutely atrocious. Philippe was actively considering diverting to Brest, so it had to be bad! For 24hrs we just survived with minimum sail, not just spray over the front but what seemed like continuous wave after wave rolling down the boat and across the cockpit. Through it all Puma just marched steadily on, bow deep into the wave, surface, shake herself and go forward, strong and determined.

Round Ireland 2010 Weather was perfect, strong winds (except at the end!) beautiful sunshine, incredible scenery and we won. The hospitality provided by the Wicklow Sailing Club was second to none which explains in part why we are racing now!

And of course the aprs sail! Since I am strongly advised that the old adage of what happens on the boat (or in this case off it) stays on the boat I will just mention crew meetings St Malo (10 petit dejuner and 10 grande lagers si vous plais), Madeira with Pen Azen and Change of Course, Cowes, Olive Tree, Frog & Frigate (I didnt make it but my wife and daughters did!), and a couple of cheeky pinots in Cherbourg, Le Havre, Plymouth, Dieppe et al.

So many memories, I could go on and on. What stands out as a constant throughout the 6 years is the professionalism and commitment shown by Allie and Philippe. This is far in excess of what you could reasonably expect from a commercial operation.

From the supply of new sails, rigging etc through to the stores and provisions the quality has always been first class. So has the enthusiasm, for example Philippe before each race, dons his gear, jumps into the Itchen and scrubs the bottom of the boat to remove what appears to me as a light film of growth. Speed is of the essence!

Finally away from the narrow confines of Sailing Logic in general and Puma in particular, there is the effect on the world of offshore racing or RORC. When considering the RORC of 2005 Will Carlings old farts comment comes to mind. Offshore racing was for the well to do owner driver with his amateur crew. School boats were tolerated as long as they kept their place they certainly were not expected to win! there was even (still is) a separate trophy for the most successful school boat, which Philippe has won every year on Puma with Sailing Logic. Thanks to Philippe, his determination, skill and ability to train and motivate newcomers to the wonderful sport of offshore racing these barriers are slowly being broken down.

I could go on but the shelf calls.

So now comes the sad news of the parting of the ways between Skipper and boat, with Puma destined for a more relaxed retirement.

+Thank you Philippe, thank you Allie and especially thank you Puma for 6 remarkable years.

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