Wouldn’t it be great to find yourself aboard a Volvo Ocean 65 racing yacht on a fine summer’s day for a jolly on the Solent! You have been invited to spend a few hours with the crew of Team Brunel. She came second overall in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race series. Veteran sailor and skipper, Bouwe Bekking, shakes your hand and introduces you to the crew. You are shown around the boat and briefed as to the schedule and emergency procedures in the event of something untoward happening - not that it was likely, but you never know - the yacht draws 4.7 metres, sails very fast (can average of 22 knots over 24 hours), and there are a number of hazards, both under the water and on it.
The yacht gets underway. Sail is made, and she inclines to the wind as you leave Cowes en route for the Needles Channel. Only then do you imagine yourself racing day after day, being soaked to the skin, cold and very tired. You imagine being swept off your feet by a gigantic wave, and the only reason you did not end up in the drink was because you remembered to attach your safety harness. Thankful that your watch has ended, you go below and try to regain your circulation. You try getting some rest, but the noise and movement does not allow you to sleep. Then you think of your family at home and wish you were there. Instead, you find yourself retching and you have this awful pain in the pit of your stomach. You wish the world would come to an end.
All of a sudden you look around, and there ahead is the Needles lighthouse. The sun is shining. All is fine; all is well. At the end of the day after sailing around the Island and returning to Cowes, you thank the team for their hospitality. You admire them for their achievement, and wonder how they did it. They are made of sterner stuff than you.
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