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OK – so just before the crew allocation day it was suggested that I may benefit from doing my level three again. They knew who my skipper was (it was to be announced in just a few minutes time) and said that if I could join the course on 1st May it would be with my skipper for the race. I checked my diary, and could do the course except for the last day – deep clean day. Not a problem with them – it may be with my fellow crew mates that I have to leave to do the deep clean without me!

Sitting in the Guildhall in Portsmouth, I was hoping upon hope that whoever I was allocated to would have patience and understanding. My name was called by Wendo – the Australian lady. I was pleased – although not sure why, as I had not met her before, or met anyone that had sailed with her. This new level three course would be do or die – and hopefully we would like each other.

It took nearly seven hours to drive down to Gosport yesterday – the A1 was shut because of an accident, and I was just behind it. That meant that I was late arriving – not a good omen. It was worrying enough having to do the course again, let alone incur the wrath of the skipper for being late on the first day! I had already done the ISAF Safety Course at the start of the last course, so all I had to do was arrive at 5pm and get to the boat.

When I arrived I could smell dinner coming from the galley – hopefully it was the start of dinner smell rather than the end of dinner smell. It was start of dinner smell – result! I introduced myself, but had missed everyone else’s introduction. I got their names only – no idea where they came from etc. Darren was the skipper – I had sailed with him on my level one so was very happy with that choice – and Wendy was the mate; my skipper for the actual race, so this is going to be a telling few days. What happens if we do not get on?

As I was last on, I had to take one of the bunks that were left – and all of them were upper berths. Oh what joy – lifting the lead in my bottom when the boat was standing still was bad enough. Not sure how I will manage when the boat is being thrown from side to side!

Actually, everyone (including Wendy) was really nice. I eventually managed to name and place all my fellow crew – Chris, Adam, Bill, Charlie, PJ, Maggie and Lucy from the UK, Ilya from Russia and Stefano from Italy. And they all liked my cakes (yes, the “bribery” box appeared again!) which were polished off in record time.

We set up the boat and set off from the harbour in quite brisk winds. Not sure if it is because I am beginning to know what I am doing, but I seemed to be able to do my tasks quite smoothly. We tacked and jibed and got up to just over 16 knots. The boat heels over much more than 68’s that we did the level one and two training on. The water splashes over the toe rail as it skims through the ocean. I was taking no chance of being tipped out, and clipped on at all times!

As we pulled back into Gosport Harbour I actually felt as if I had enjoyed the day – well, that may be exaggerating a bit. I hadn’t felt as useless as I had felt towards the end of the last course. Is it because I am beginning to know what I am doing – or is it because the skipper on this boat isn’t looking at me as if I am the village idiot?

It started to pour as we were getting everything put away – not sure I want any of this wet stuff on my race!!

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