We arrived at the beach and the conditions looked good. The tide was high and I was being a bit of a chicken so after everything was rigged up I did a bit of "simulator" training with my board (minus the fin) and my rig on a sandy bit of the beach. I think I was really trying to calm myself down a bit.
By 13:30 I hit the water. I had decided ahead of time to split my time up into sessions so that I would have breaks for food and water. Due to the wind being "light" we had decided that I would use Mark's smallest sail (the largest I had ever attempted to sail) a 5.5; so most of the first hour was me getting used to his sail, the feel, the weight, and its reaction. While I tried to get planing a lot of my runs were wobbly and full of bad body stance. However I did manage to get 10 dry tacks in! Well to be honest I really did 12 but my adjudicator (Mark) decided that two of them didn't count as he was only counting the dry ones that I sailed well into and well out of. ARGH!!So at the end of session 1, one hour under my belt and 10 dry tacks. If I could keep this up I would be laughing.
Second session: Focus on blasting. With a few encouragements and hints from Mark I really focused on getting into and out of the harness quicker, dropping and digging, and stance. What a difference that made. Everything got light and felt very balanced and best of all I was blasting along. Not in the foot straps, but moving at a good pace with everything light. I even practiced taking my hands (one at a time) off the boom. It was such fun. I was also able to sail for longer distances with confidence now that I had this technique better. But my tacks....not so good. They for what ever reason got very wet! By the end of the second session I had only increased my count of good dry tacks up to 14. Worse...I was feeling exhausted. Lunch and a long break was needed.
Third session: Dark clouds rolled in and I'm not talking figuratively; the thickening clouds matched how I felt, my hands were sore, my arms trembling and small things that I have long mastered seemed like a massive effort. Worse it felt like I was sailing terribly, everything I tried to do felt like it wasn't working. I was discouraged and I wanted to come off the water. But I knew that you all were rooting for me and I knew that if I just kept pushing I would make it. Somehow I dug deep ignored the dark grey clouds, my sore hands, and trembling arms and managed to push my good dry tack count up to 18. Even more surprising was Mark's comments when I came off the water, he said that this session had probably been my best so far, and that I looked like I was moving faster and sailing faster. MIND GAMES...maybe fatigue helps to focus your technique...I don't know. All I know was that I was glad I only had one more session to go.
Danielle (who I've been getting lessons from, and whose team I was originally supposed to be on) and her partner Phil came down at this point to cheer me on a bit. They did a great job at distracting me from my pain and encouraging me to keep pushing as after all what's one more hour? So back to the water I headed. I felt like this session was my best yet. Unfortunately, in an effort to warm up my support crew wandered off and so missed what I felt were my best runs of the day. I even managed a tiny accidental jump off a bit of chop that surprised me and I fell off giggling with the fun of it. I was back to having fun. Yes my body felt slightly broken but I felt like things that I have been told, shown and coached were coming together. I can hardly wait for my next session if I can manage to lift my arms again. Best of all I managed to add the final 2 good tacks to reach a total of 20 (just don't ask how many I had to do to get that 20) and spent a total of 4 hours and 17 mins on the water. Challenge complete.
Thank you to all who donated, to those who are going to donate, to those who sent me kind words of encouragement. Thanks especially to Mark who sat on a cold, often cloudy beach for over 5 hours cheering me on.
To those of you who wish to donate please go to my Just Giving webpage and click on Donate. The website is international and will accept donations in multiple currencies (after clicking on Donate just change the currency to your desired currency from the drop down window). It is completely safe and secure. Thank you.
Enjoy the short video below of one of my "runs"...the guys who go past in the background will hopefully be how I look soon, but this is MUCH better than I did look a year ago...