I can't be the only one who heads out for a start line muttering under my breath "Please Lord may I not f*** up".
For what is worse than getting cold and wet is letting down one's crew mates by making one of those all too easy to make mistakes.
But what's this all to do with Tillerman's challenge regarding learning experiences you might ask?
Well stay with me for a moment and check out the picture above of a lovely spinnaker that is happily full and in one piece. It was taken a couple of years ago when doing the ARC.
A couple of days after this picture was taken it was shredded (might have mentioned it on a previous Tillerman challenge) after being wrapped firmly round the fore stay in the middle of the night while I was helming.
In my defense the wind was light so that as the swell of the Atlantic rollers came through it would regularly collapse onto the fore stay. The prosecution might also note that I was distracted trying to tell a joke at the time while helming but lets not listen to them.
I was pretty apprehensive of spinnakers after that, but then signed up for the Fastnet. One of the things about race sailing is you push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Many cruisers do not go out at night and if they do wouldn't think of hoisting a kite.
But when racing if the wind is right the spinnaker must be up all the time day and night. So I had to learn about how to sail with them or screw up again. After many a bad night with sweaty hands upon the wheel by the end began to get a feel for how the sail was set from simple things like the heel of the boat.
So by failing, learning from mistakes, and then being pushed by the competitive spirit of racing I learnt something.
But you'll still hear me muttering under my breath as we head out "Please....."