Before you depart on your journey out of the comfort zone we must address the most important thing of all, your safety. If you are worried about it, that’s ok just make sure you turn that worry into energy for preparation. A well-prepared boat, equipment and your co-skipper are the first things to keep or get you out of trouble. We will also be there for you, with our cumulative experience in long-distance sailing, local knowledge and weather expertise we will do everything in our power to send you out of your comfort zone but never out of the safety zone. Due to the incredible number of teams that will be competing, Ultra Sailing sponsored a 37ft long power catamaran that will shadow the fleet and keep an eye on you. For a quick response, the catamaran will have a fast rib in tow (provided by Segelwelt). We will make sure that help is never more than a few minutes away, you just make sure you don’t need it.
Regarding the mandatory equipment that has been raising a lot of questions make sure you have it all. We might give you a pass if you are missing a fire extinguisher on the 18, but everything else is a must and we will be strict about it. Some of the things can be replaced by an equally good solution, like the lifeline (jackstay) can be made out of 6mm covered dyneema rope. Others just cannot be improvised. One of the things that we are adding to the list of mandatory equipment is the emergency personal strobe light. These small lifesavers will be available to you in Jezera for a non-profit price, again thanks to Segelwelt.
To help you prepare better for the upcoming Challenge, Andraž Mihelin shared his experience from long-distance shorthanded races in the form of following questions any crew should ask each other.
Pre-race crew checklist
Bellow is a list of questions any of two crewmembers should be able to answer to himself before committing to the venture of exploring his or hers comfort zone limits. Since Seascape Challenge is a double-handed race the comfort zone can be equally challenged by nature or fellow crewmember.
0) How will I perform a man-overboard manoeuvre singlehanded in the middle of the night downwind in 15-20kt of wind
This one is the mother of all points. The only really dangerous situation in a race like this is man/woman overboard. Again the only really dangerous situation in a race like that is man/woman overboard. So make sure you are attached to the boat whenever possible. On the Seascape 18, this is more tricky but the principle is the same. Ensure that you have a way to climb back on board. Make sure you have your lifebuoy ready to use and both crew members know how to use it. Make sure you know how to manage your boat single-handed in order to stop her and manoeuvre her back to your lost co-skipper. If you have time for one thing before the race practice this one. From the equipment Strobe lights are mandatory while, personal AIS PLB’s, waterproof flashlights are very useful. They only work if you wear them though.
1) How much do I trust my co-skippers: seamanship, racing skills, character, McGyverism?
This one is essential for double handed racing. You will share ups and downs of the race and the quality of your experience will depend on how well do you know each other. The keyword is respect. Make sure you have a direct and honest talk well before the start about each other strengths and even more importantly, weakness. If the conditions or situation on a race course proves challenging (which is highly likely) this will anyhow come out, but not necessarily in a constructive way. Keep in mind that even though one of the crew will take over the formal role of a skipper in double-handed sailing hierarchy should be much flatter than on a fully crewed boat.
2) How will I resolve disputes with my co-skipper?
If you are sailing with a lifelong friend this might prove to be trivial. But if you are sailing with a family member or someone with whom you never needed to resolve complicated situations in a very limited time then this topic is worth addressing.
3) How close to the limit do you think you have pushed yourself sailing-wise?
In long-distance double-handed sailing, you will rarely go for 100% efficiency. Together with your co-skipper try to make an honest assessment how far did you push yourself in more controlled conditions so you can better understand where is each others comfort zone.
4) How will I jibe in 25kt of wind, 10-degree air temperature and in the middle of the night?
Make a “dry run” (without sails while the boat is on the mooring) of the most complicated manoeuvres you can think of. The above-mentioned jibe is one of them. Try to visualize the conditions and figure out the choreography. After you have a system in place try to repeat it with your eyes closed. Time permitting repeat everything on the water.
5) How will I configure the sailboat in order to go windward in 25+ kt of wind?
Make sure you understand all of the sail settings and setups of your boat. Not so much in performance sense but in the sense of seamanship. Unlike technical round-the-buoy sailing, long distance shorthanded sailing is about knowing how to set your boat according to crews physical and psychological state. For instance, you will need a different setting for sailing at 4 AM in the rain than sailing in sunshine at 4 PM even though wind and wave conditions might be similar. Especially focus on the extreme conditions like mentioned above.
6) What kind of navigation will I use in case all the gadgets go blank?
I’m sure you will bring your fair amount of Smartphones, tablets and handheld GPS to help you with the navigation. First advice is to bring at least one or two in spare. Second and more important, make sure you have and know how to use paper (even better laminated) charts of the region. The route will be complicated so pre-race run through and visualization is highly recommended.
7) How will I sleep/rest?
Even though you don’t need to sleep for one night (and this is even less the problem for the short course) a good rest or even a nap will prove beneficial for the overall performance (race and human-wise) of the crew. So make sure you have a setup you tried before the race started. Keep in mind that you might have to do it in different conditions so make sure you have a place for resting in light or strong wind and in upwind or downwind conditions.
8) How will I eat?
Even though you can survive on dry food like power bars and sandwiches it is again highly beneficial to have a possibility of preparing a warm meal or at least tea. Jetboil systems proved best for this purpose and are recommended. For dry meals freeze dried food is improving even though some might say that no matter what it says on the cover it all still tastes like chicken.
9) How will I go for (some of) my bodily needs?
Indeed having a piss or having a dump is not as trivial as it might look from distance. Traditionally a bucket which is anyhow mandatory part of the safety gear is used for having a dump – the key is a just right amount of water in the bucket – and bucket (for girls) or hand bailer (for boys) is used for having a piss. Doing it overboard is not recommended and can prove to be extremely dangerous in certain conditions.
Experience of the double Hard bastard (on the 18)
Jan Kobler earned his Hard bastard title by finishing two Silverrudders on his Seascape 18. He also competed in a couple of Seascape Challenges, last year with his 7 years old son. We asked him about how he does it and what drives him to push himself all the way to the finish. This is what he had to say before his third Silverrudder:
“For me personally, the most important precondition for being calm before and during Silverrudder is doing things on time, double checking equipment and backing up essential hardware with a spare. By doing things on time, I mean everything from getting to Svendborg a full day before the start, to going out on the starting line early enough. I am usually quite nervous and anxious before the start, but immediately after the gun, all this goes away.
134 nautical miles on a Seascape18 is a lot, and what I like to do is to split the course into a couple of interim milestones mentally. Going counter-clockwise, for me these are (i) the bridge across the Great belt, (ii) Fyns Hoved (NE tip of Fyn), (iii) ÆbelØ (N tip of Fyn), (iv) Fredericia and (v) Assens. Especially the northern part of the island is a bit more challenging, because it is the part sailed during the night, and it is a more exposed stretch of water.
The critical time for me is 00:00-5.00 in the night. Fatigue kicks in, and I always get the sense like I am the only one left in the race. Remember, you are not, there are 400 other boats around somewhere, probably having that same feeling. This is actually the time you can make some nice gains if you stay focused. Have an energy bar and water at hand in the cockpit, because it will be difficult to fetch anything from the cabin in the dark. Also, prepare yourself for the fact that only 3% of the moon will be visible on September 22nd, making night time very dark.
Silverrudder is not just about competing against others. Sailing it on a Seascape is a true adventure and to finish it is quite rewarding. Stay safe, and enjoy yourselves.”