Richard Branson has been quoted: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” ,which pretty much sums up my feelings on being offered the chance to sail a Figaro with Hugh Brayshaw from the Offshore Academy.
As I jumped on the plane to France (yes I was wearing my offshore wellies if you follow my instagram), I have to say I was pretty nervous; the Figaro isn’t a massively Hannah-friendly boat!
Perhaps I should explain…. When we started planning out my campaign towards the Vendee Globe, we looked at boats that would be a suitable training boat to minimise the risk of a) me scaring myself silly, b) me hurting myself, but c) also offer a decent stepping stone towards the IMOCA. We looked at the Mini, the Figaro and the Class 40, all as suitable options… Now at the time, the Class 40 came out on top for a number of reasons, and the Figaro was ruled out as it would be too difficult to sail single handed- quite literally in my case 😉
Leaving Concarneau in stunning sunshine and little to no breeze was actually a really great way to get started! Considering we’d never really spent any time together, and only briefly discussed the plan via WhatsApp, Hugh and I very quickly fell into a rhythm, and got the boat going through the Raz by the first nightfall… As we headed up to Chanel du Four we were treated to some short tacking to avoid the rocks and a few moments of me driving with Hugh computer staring to navigate us safely through.
Hugh is an amazing sailor, really patient, really knowledgable and above all fun to be on the boat with!! We were a little bit too nice to each other at times and our watches seemed to get longer with the old “I’ll just let them sleep for a few more minutes”. I personally managed to oversleep by a whole hour to wake up to find a very tired looking Hugh on the floor!!
Living on the boat wasn’t the easiest, and I’m still struggling with the old holding on/ sailing combo in the fruitier stuff, but it was all good learning, and it has certainly made me reconsider the Figaro as an option. Apparently though I still haven’t learnt how to eat, and with some slightly runny porridge (In Hugh’s defence it was pretty bouncy when he was pouring the hot water into the bag) my salopettes are really starting to suffer…
After a mega quick bouncy channel crossing (From our initial routing showing 17 hours remaining to arriving in Cowes some 9 hours later) and myself redecorating the port side of Hugh’s boat, we arrived to a very welcome coffee and croissant from Mark of the Offshore Academy and Hugh’s daschund, Winston!!!
So overall, some very much appreciated mileage, experience, a chance to learn, and above all some good fun! Of course there’s a huge big fat thank you to Hugh for being such good company, patient, kind, supportive, and the purveyor of all things rehydrated and warm!!
With a little tweaking here and there, the Figaro could certainly work for me upwind, downwind however is a very different story… The end to end spinnaker pole just doesn’t make it feasible for someone lacking in hands, but that doesn’t mean to say you won’t see me out Figaro sailing in the near future. For those that know me, telling me something isn’t possible just means I’ll find a way to make it work!