Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Andy Meiklejohn on board HUGO BOSS. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.
by Andy Meiklejohn
For those of you out there who are parents or can remember what friends of yours were like when their children were born, this is what we look and behave like when racing an IMOCA 60. Sleep is the most precious commodity there is. I remember before the race sitting in Gosport with Ken Way, our Sports Psychologist. He asked Alex and myself what our number one priorities were. I replied "Food" and Alex, "Sleep". Alex laughed and said “After two weeks sailing this thing, you will know what I mean!”
New parents will understand exactly what I mean. Your usual routine just flies out the window. Wouter and I come from professional crewed backgrounds where watch systems are regimentally enforced - 4 hours on and 4 hours off. During your four hours off you have your meals, maybe get called for a sail change and then sleep. On an IMOCA 60 with just two crew, all the chores have to be undertaken by us - no help! You are definitely waken for any sail change and depending on conditions, you may be forced to drive for your entire time on deck, meaning the other person does the navigation, cooking, bailing and maintenance. Oh and then in the last hour off of the four hours you thought you had off, you must get prepared to face another onslaught at the wheel, a frenzy of sail changes or be sharp enough to pick a wind shift!
I remember the first three months as a father. 10pm, baby wakes for food and nappy. 2am, baby wakes for food and nappy. 6am, baby wakes for food and nappy. 9am, baby wakes for food and nappy. Midday, baby hasn’t gone back to sleep and I’m TIRED! You think we go to sea to get away from it all? Sometimes it’s exactly the same as being at home!
Alex Thomson Racing