James Goes Solo – blog#4

RS100 at Instow SC North Devon

James Hardiman, MD of Ocean Elements, gives All at Sea giving readers a glimpse of what it is like to compete in an offshore solo race series whilst keeping up a busy working and family life.

I have had the most disappointing start to a race season in the last 10 years. I seem to be plagued with boat problems, not a new phenomenon in the world of yacht racing, but I am hoping for a change in luck soon.

This blog is an insight to my solo racing campaign. I intend to take a new (but 16-year-old) race boat, set her up from scratch and race an entire offshore series with SORC (Solo Offshore Racing Club).

My three major hurdles have been recovering from major shoulder surgery, having a boat in Holland undergoing a major rebuild and lacking time due to being the MD of skiing and sailing holiday company, Alpine Elements.

AT THE START?

Having done almost no sailing or significant race prep as the boat is still laid up ashore I found myself in a disconcerting position with my first offshore race looming and not knowing whether I would make the start line.

On a happy note, I am making a good recovery from my rotator-cuff surgery, and after seven months of rehab it is still feeling weak but I am getting back into sports again. So, I decided to chance my ‘first sail’ since the op in my racing dinghy. I tentatively took my RS100 out for a light wind spinnaker session – a nerve wracking session but at least I felt like a ‘sailor’ again.

Buoyed by this achievement, I took the executive decision to enter a race the next day at my local club, Instow SC in Devon, mainly because I had entered the Blaze Nationals, but I had never actually sailed a Blaze before.

I managed to borrow a Blaze to start learning about the boat and came away with a respectable seventh and no major shoulder troubles, in spite of nearly being thrown out of the boat a few times.

BEHIND SCHEDULE

Sadly, the prep for my new (old) J-105 is not going so well and is a month behind schedule. Fluke IV should be safely tucked up in Hamble by now having her final race prep for the start of the solo inshore series. Instead she is still in Holland, where I bought her last October, receiving major surgery in pretty much every area.

I will now miss the first inshore races which would have been a more sensible inauguration for her to the world of offshore racing, but what can I do? Since my target is to race a full offshore campaign, I will just have to do my best, get her back and get racing as soon as possible.

NORTH SEA DELIVERY

I am planning to sail Fluke IV back across the North Sea shortly. She has had a lot of hull work, brand new rigging, complete new electric system, all-new navigation equipment and a new engine and gearbox – so the yard have rightly advised me to test the boat before sailing her back.

All that seems to remain of the original boat are the settee cushions and the loo. At least that is two less things to test…