Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Vestas Sailrocket 2 goes off "into the eye of the storm"

by Paul Larsen

Off she goes! After yet another very busy week, we have just seen the new boat on her way to Namibia. We spent the week pulling her all apart and preparing her new home in the container. She goes from being a pampered pet living indoors to being a beast of burden that lives outdoors. Walvis Bay provides so many of the key ingredients that we need, but composite boat building facilities are not one of them. We have to take it all with us.

Supplied image.

Things have moved up and on. Supplied image.

Whilst loading up, one satisfying moment was when I noticed that one large, defiant bottle of champagne that we never got to drink sitting in the new container. It was the big bottle only to be opened when we got the outright record. It went on ice many times but survived every time. Well I'd like to think that the cork didn't feel so smug and secure when the new, bright orange hull sidled in alongside. Only one of those two items will be coming back from Namibia!

So as we prepared the container, Simon and the boys from COSWORTH came in and finished putting the 'nervous system' into the boat in the form of the data-loggers, load sensors and associated displays. The two boats sat side by side in the shed. The general feeling of moving on began to envelope along with the associated feelings of sadness. We have spent 16 months working here alongside the VESTAS R+D employees and they have been great. I think they too felt proud of the boat at that launch. Some of them were there when we started the first boat way back in 2002 and have followed the whole journey from the first sweep of the broom. We share a journey. I made a small plaque which we stuck in the cockpit. It says 'REDUX ROCKET 08/03/11' after the building where we all worked and the launch date. I got Mick, Dave and Richy to stick it on. Here's a few pics from the last week.

Mick, Rich, Paul and Dave, with the small plaque in the cockpit in the position where Paul can see it. Supplied image.

Rich Carter from Vestas did the fine job of fairing the beat. Supplied image.

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One RIB, one Rocket and one rig. Now... let the real cramming session begin. Supplied image.

Ian and John from Bladerunner Shipping have been very helpful. Supplied image.

Loaded... Supplied image.

And there she goes. One rocket aimed directly at 'speed spot', Walvis Bay. Travel safe. Supplied image.

It was with great relief to us that PETERS and MAY stepped up to take on the shipping. We worked with them with the previous boat and I have recollections of having issues with Namibian customs whilst I was out in the middle of Namibia somewhere with a sketchy phone connection. I made a quick call to Sarah and knew that the problem would be taken on and resolved as quickly as possible without the responsibility getting handed around. They take on the problem and stay on it until it is resolved. I like that and it is a desrved plug of a good and genuine service.

Also worth mentioning was Tim from MARINEWARE in Southampton who opened up late on a Sunday to make sure the container left with a stock of 5mm foam core (my mistake Tim, I owe you a beer or two).

So, away she went. When I mentioned it to Norman during a phone call regarding the next Little Americas Cup, he was the one who gave this blog its title. He commented that now that the container has gone that it must feel like the eye of the storm in that we have just come through one big drama and can enjoy the calm momentarily before we are deep into it again. Well, either way, I will try and enjoy the calm.

We set to cleaning up the shed and cleaning out the old container. It is like a shrine to the first boat. Every box, shelf and corner is full of memories. I am slightly romantic about the past I guess but this is the time to move on and hence it was tme to clear out. Now that we know that the first boat is destined to be a museum piece, we threw out every unnecessary piece. Only the bare essentials remain. We haven't scavenged a thing off the old boat. Everything is still there to enable her to be rigged and even sailed if push came to shove. I want her to stay entire for as long as possible. The container will now also be shared by as many of the moulds from the new boat as we can fit in there. No moulds will be thrown out until the new boat arrives safely in Namibia.

I have to admit to a slightly nauseous feeling to be cleaning out so much. We have all done it whether it be moving house, changing jobs or just moving on. Some people do it effortlessly. I do it a lot I guess... but not effortlessly. We dug up some real treasures from the very beginning and did put a few of the better ones aside. Yep, it's time to move on.

We owe so much to those that have helped us get to this stage. We aim to repay every one by giving this our absolute best 'no excuses' effort. That big bottle is toast!

Vestas Sailrocket 2