Live from a fine champagne hangover...
Wed, 9 Mar 11 17:10
Post launch greetings to all.
Well, yesterday was brilliant and firstly I want to give thanks to all those who helped the whole day go off smoothly. Although we had planned to do a trial launch a few days earlier, the timing wasn't right and the tide was out. We did do a trial hoist with a crane and Mark Lloyd took a heap of great photos, which you can see in the Gallery. For that trial there wasn't a breath of wind so we were a bit nervous on the launch day as there was a little bit of breeze about.
These days always get busy and there are so many great friends and supporters gathered. You want to go and have a good chat with them all but don't always get the chance. It's great just knowing your friends are there.
A launch is a great focal point of a project. You have reached a significant milestone on a long journey. You let your new creation realise what it is by introducing it to the water for the first time. Seeing our new boat risks having a big identity crisis, it's about time we started giving her some solid hints.
We made some speeches at the start with our first boat sitting fully rigged on one side and the new boat hiding under a big spinnaker on the other side. It gave me a lot of confidence to have the first boat there. The new boat is ambitious, no doubt about it. That first boat sat there like our teams degree in speed sailing. The time came for us to stop talking and reveal the new boat for the first time. I was aware how quiet everyone was as the covers came off. I guess it's quite a creation to take in. We lifted the boat and turned her around under the crane before raising the new wing. The naming honours were given to Finn Strom Madsen from VESTAS. Finn is the head of VESTAS R+D globally and has been right behind us and the new boat right from the start. It was a pleasure to see the fine Pol Roger champagne hit that lovely carbon bow.
Pol Roger gave us a big help with supplying the great champagne. If there is one thing I believe in at a launch it's having a plentiful supply of ice cold, top quality champagne. These builds can be long drawn out processes and you owe it to everyone who has helped make it happen. You can also use it as an incentive reward to make the crane driver to pay attention.
The time came and up she went. It was high tide in the Medina. With Cowes basking in the spring sunshine as a backdrop she left my grasp and swung out over the water before being lowered gently in. We all clapped and just absorbed the moment. Although it wasn't part of the plan, I got Matty to come over in the RIB and pick me up. I had to climb in her to see how the bow would sit... actually, that's a lie... I just wanted to sit in her on the water full stop. As I climbed in and out of the cockpit I wondered how many adventures we would now be having in this new setting. When will that day finally come when I can climb out of that cockpit knowing that a world record is in the bag? I could feel the boat being pulled around by the small gusts so I jumped back in the rib and we lifted her out. It was with great relief that she was lowered gently back onto the shore. That was it. We had launched the boat. The UK had delivered us a gorgeous day and the champagne flowed. The crane drivers left with their champagne rewards.
We answered some questions to the crowd and just enjoyed the moment. There were many so many people there who had been touched by the project over the years and it was great to catch up with them all. So many of them had helped us at critical times... even if only with a well placed bit of encouragement. I felt a lot of good will on the day. I think everyone knows that we are not going to have an easy ride and we haven't been given this on a platter.
Some of the girls from Offshore Challenges had come down to lend a hand with the hospitality that they do so well and the boats were being handled by various members of the sailing team over the years. Everyone was having fun and it all just rolled along effortlessly. As the crowd slimmed down we began packing the two boats away, I wondered if they will ever be together again? We rolled the two boats inside for the night. If boats do have souls as we sailors believe they do, then I would like to think that the old boat is proud of the new boat on her big day... not jealous.
As the guys who have worked at VESTAS beside us during the build began to knock off from work, we would pull them over for a glass of champagne. They know what the day meant to us.
Just before dark I was the last one there. I just stood on that empty apron and looked across to Cowes. What a crazy journey this has been. I put the here-and-now moment in the big picture of my life and it all just sort of hit me. For a moment there I was overwhelmed.
As I left to catch up with the others I called some of those who had come on the day and thanked them for... well, for everything. I called Hiskia in Namibia and told him about the big day. We will be with him soon. The boat gets shipped out next Monday and in a month Hiskia will see a slightly more serious launch as she touches the waters of the main arena... Walvis Bay.
So a new leg of the journey begins. On behalf of all the team I am delighted to welcome you all along for the ride. Anything can and probably will happen. We don't expect it to be easy and we know the kiteboarders are very worthy competition. They are all going to be gunning it to stay at number one. It's very difficult to know what they have left in the tank. I personally expect them to be hitting 60 one day. We will have to learn to walk again here. Hopefully it won't be as painful as it was with the first boat.